Big Middle Rounds At 2014 J-Bay Open

Poaching time
Sometimes, in Africa, people kill big animals and that’s a big problem. It’s a big problem because the rhino population has fallen off a big cliff. It’s down 97.6% since 1960 and human beings are the sole creatures that prey on the big boys. Both species of rhino found in Africa are now critically endangered so yeah, we kind of biffed that one. But not even the threat of extinction is enough to scare poachers away from their desired kill. Apparently, there’s some electric thrill in the act of shooting a massive, gorgeous and entirely defenseless animal. We saw a lot of massive, gorgeous animals get poached at the 2014 J-Bay Open today. (They weren’t defenseless though. Jefferey’s was firing; it was a land of opportunity.) Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, John John Florence, Julian Wilson and more were sniped. Their taxidermic J-Bay hopes now hang on the memory walls of their unlikely foes.

The trophy hunt
The contest ran from a little bit after dawn to a little bit before dusk today, and there was more than just sunshine in between. In Round 3, there were carves, airs, beers, upsets and…

Josh Kerr: Miguel Pupo had Kerrzy on the ropes, but Josh jabbed his way out of it with a 6.60 in the final minutes.
Taj Burrow: With a win here, Taj Burrow could be in the middle of the world title race. He must’ve had that in mind when he hammered out a win in a close heat against Ace Buchan today.
Adriano de Souza: You know what ADS did today? He woke up early in the morning, ate an industrial-sized packet of steel wool and a banana for breakfast, then grinded out waves as if his life depended on it. Seabass fell victim to the tour’s most passionate surfer today.
Kolohe Andino: Brother came up against Julian Wilson for the ump-teenth time in a row and beat him yet again. In the water yesterday, Dino told me that Julian is Kolohe’s favorite surfer and that pressure is alleviated when he surfs agains his idols. Sounds like Kolohe should just start worshipping everyone on tour and subsequently win every heat. A shrine could help.
Gabriel Medina: Aritz Aranburu tried to hose Gabriel down with custard and nearly succeeded, but then Gabe got a mid-range score to steal the win. The Brazilian now has an opportunity to gain some serious ground in the title race. Door’s open, big guy, come on in.
Freddy Patacchia: It’s impossible to dislike Fred. He took a fin to the face in his morning freesurf and bled everywhere. Then, like Al Capone, Fred went on to dismantle Nat Young in a war of the goofs. His turns cut deeper than even the sharpest fin.
Mick Fanning: Mick got an 8.50 on his first wave today and never looked back, not even to see if there was a shark. Kai Otton knew what hit him.
CJ Hobgood: CJ broke South Africa today by defeating Jordy Smith — you know, the guy who surfed what was statistically the best heat of the year in Round 1. Yeah, him. He did so by surfing a smart heat and pushing his turns where it counted the most. We even saw a Hobgood backside straight air, a delightful cult classic ever since the Somewhere, Anywhere, Everywhere days.

The other trophy hunt…
The call was made to run straight into Round 4 and nobody grumbled. It’s hard to walk away from a wave like Jeff’s. The no losers round went off and winners jumped straight to the quarters, that much closer to the actual trophy. The one that has 2014 J-Bay Champion engraved on it and doesn’t look like a lion’s head. They included…

Joel Parkinson: He minced Adam Melling today, minced him like a chef. Then he minced Taj and Kerrzy in Round 4. J-Bay might suit Parko’s surfing better than anywhere else in the world. We won’t call it poetry, but we’ll at least say that it rhymes.
Matt Wilkinson: What can be said about Matt Wilkinson that hasn’t already been said about the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team? Wilko’s fate seemed to have already been written when he drew Kelly Slater, but Wilko bitch-slapped fate by comboing the 11X champ. When he’s on — as he was today — Wilko might be the most dangerous goofy at J-Bay. He gets so tight in the lip with on turns, goes so vertical, pushes so hard. Just ask Kelly. Or Kolohe and Adriano, whom Wiko dusted in Round 4.
Owen Wright: Mister Lanky shooed John John in Round 3, which shouldn’t be surprising yet totally is. Owen’s surfing has been crisp in and out of the singlet, but John John’s has been something else. And now, John takes that something else and films it while Owen proceeded to defeat Gabriel Medina and Freddy P. and earn a spot in the Quarters.
Alejo Muniz: This is the best that we’ve ever Alejo surf. It’s so fast, so powerful! He beat Michel Bourez in Round 3, then Mick Fanning and CJ Hobgood in Round 4. He was born in Argentina, so maybe he got a boost out of seeing Argentina in the World Cup finals but probably not at all.

They say that tomorrow…
The contest will likely be off, but this Indian Ocean has a mind of her own — a creative one, nonetheless. We only needs one more day to finish and that day is likely to fall sometime between Friday-Monday. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what little miss ocean thinks up. —Brendan Buckley