It was a day of upsets at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay today as numerous underdogs and local wildcards dominated the round one proceedings.
Insane surfing was the norm and conditions were an excellent 1.5 to two metres (five to six feet) and incredibly clean at the break known as “Supertubes” which sits right at the top of the unbelievably perfect Jeffreys Bay setup – and contestants were loving every minute of it.
Adding spice to the mix was the fact that the top five seeds on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, including Bobby Martinez (USA), Taj Burrow (AUS), Damien Hobgood (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) were all relegated to round two after being well beaten by their lesser ranked rivals.
Number one seed, seven-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA), missed the day all together due to being in transit on his way to the event.
Tour veteran Danny Wills (AUS) was the standout of the day when he defeated Irons in what was easily the best heat of the round.
Wills showed possibly his best form of the year as he locked into deep tube after deep tube logging in a total score of 19.20 out of 20.
And while Irons even scored a perfect 10, he couldn’t catch Wills who dominated from go to whoa.
“It was definitely one of the best heats I’ve ever had,” said Wills. “I feel great. Andy surfed insane as always, and it was just good to get away with a win. To get two good ones, as opposed to just one, which I normally do, felt good. It felt really good.”
After scoring an excellent 9.93 for two deep tubes on one wave, Wills paddled back into the lineup to watch Irons slot well and truly underneath the lip for at least six seconds plus. At that point he feared that Irons had done enough to counter his attack.
“I was paddling out and I saw Andy get that one and I thought ‘here we go!’ and then I heard ‘10’. I just couldn’t believe it!” said Wills. “Then I got another good one and that was it. It’s about time that happened! [laughs] I normally get the raw end of the stick, with onshores, so today was awesome all round.”
Also putting the pedal to the metal in his heat against Martinez and tour legend Mark Occhilupo (AUS) was Yuri Sodre (BRA) who waited right until the last minute to post his victory after scoring another extremely long tube ride.
That wave stole him the victory coming in at 9.17, as up to that point it looked as though Martinez was home and hosed and on his way to round three.
Sodre has been quietly improving from event to event and is hopeful of a good result here at Jeffreys Bay.
“I was lucky,” said Martinez. “I was focused and really concentrating on this contest. I am having a hard year, and I’m still learning. First year is always hard so I am putting all my all energy here. I’m putting myself into a position where I can do it, and finally things are going my way, so I am hoping to do good.”
Sending the local crowd into a frenzy, were local wildcards Sean Holmes, Jordy Smith and Damien Fahrenfort.