Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay: Billabong Pro Round Three Completed

posted by / News / July 21, 2006

While the surf may not have been overly cooperative, the action was still red hot at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay today.

The best of the best on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour were slightly frustrated by the limited swell on offer but when they managed to scrambled into the smallish waves they let the sparks fly.


The event was held off for two hours throughout the middle of the day as consistency of waves became a major issue, particularly in the heat 11 between Tom Whitaker (AUS) and Jarrad Howse (AUS), which had to be restarted because nothing was ridden at the half-way-point.

After that drama filled heat and the two-hour break, organisers decided to shift the event to nearby Boneyards which is located about {{{100}}} metres around the point.

Causing a major upset in the round was South African youngster and wildcard Jordy Smith who brought down one of the tour Stalwarts in Taylor Knox (USA).

Knox, who finished third in the last tour event in Mexico, and has been showing the best form of his long and illustrious career, simply didn’t have an answer for Smith today who had Knox “comboed” or needing two good scoring rides from very early in the heat.

Many have been shouting Smith’s praises throughout this event and it will very interesting to see how the lanky naturalfooter fairs as he heads toward the pointy end of the draw.

His combined score in this heat was the highest of the round – a solid 16.83 out of a possible 20 – and came about after landing some sizeable aerials.

“It’s really inconsistent out there and I think I was just fortunate to get the bigger waves which allowed me to do the bigger turns,” said Smith. “The wind’s coming from the wrong direction and is making it hard to do airs today, but luckily I just landed a couple and was rewarded with those scores.”

Smith indicated he was in no way daunted by going up against someone as established as Knox on a break which he knows well but he stated he may well stutter when it comes down to taking on the top guys in the heavier locations.

“It’s just another person in a heat out there,” said Smith. “Taylor is a good surfer and I definitely didn’t take that one too easy though. I wouldn’t be as confident at Teahupoo in Tahiti and breaks like that, where I don’t have experience. As for J Bay, I think I’ve surfed it four times this year and I’ve definitely got some experience out here.”

Early in the morning Kelly Slater held off a strong challenge from the much-feared Sean Holmes who in previous years has derailed the ratings campaigns of many big names including Andy Irons (HAW).

While the ocean was relatively flat, Slater seemed to attract swells from nowhere and rode them with aplomb.

Swooping down the line Slater showed amazing speed and even had enough drive to pull off some huge forehand carves plus the odd aerial.

He was happy to take home the win in such difficult conditions.

“It was a tricky heat,” said Slater. “You couldn’t wait around for the wave to do its thing; you had to create angles and turns on the waves and try to get the tail moving and throw the nose of the board around. The one I got that 7.00 on wasn’t such a great wave but I had to make some manoeuvres happen.”

Slater was also pleased to have held off a strong challenge from his foe in Holmes.“I saw him get an 8.0,” said Slater. “Sean has a knack for grabbing waves like that out there. I was expecting he would end up getting the best wave of the heat, but it didn’t look like it when there were three or four minutes to go. Then that one popped up and it was a smoker – that was probably the best wave of the morning.”

Slater will now come up against Nathan Hedge (AUS) who won his way through to the fourth round over Michael Lowe (AUS).

Hedge has beaten Slater here at this location before and will be looking to do it again – as Slater is aware.

“He beat me out here two years ago,” said Slater. “I think if it’s small like this I will have a bit of an advantage being on my forehand, but obviously he’s aggressive and he’s the first guy out every morning. He wants it and he’s hungrier than anyone. He hasn’t really had a great result this year so he’s frothing for something.”

For Hedge, who as Slater mentioned, has had an indifferent year to date, the round four placing is much a much welcomed one and from here he is hoping to gain ground and move back into the top half of the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour ratings.

In his heat against Lowe he was extremely lucky to jag a few waves from under Lowe’s nose while Lowe had priority.

“That’s just what we’ve got to deal with today – the waves are pretty small and inconsistent,” said Hedge. “It’s always a bit of a gamble not having priority so it’s always good to put pressure on the other guy. I guess sneaking wide down the end allows you to get something under priority, so yeah, it worked.”

To give him the edge against Slater next round Hedge revealed he has dusted off the board that he used when he beat him two years ago.

“This is the board that I beat Kelly and made the final on a couple of years ago,” said Hedge. ”It’s been wrapped in cotton wool for a couple of years. I’m relying on it to do its job again this year, so it better hold up and deliver!”

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