Welcome To The 2014 J-Bay Open

Oh, how I’ve missed your face…
Your long, steep, fast face. How I have longed to touch it, to kiss it. And how Mick Fanning has longed to tear it apart like a cross between Muhammed Ali and a live cheetah. It had been three years since we last saw the WCT at Jeffery’s Bay. Three long years, but time only makes the heart grow fonder. We saw Round 1 and just the tip of Round 2 on the first day of the 2014 J-Bay Open and turns out, everyone still loves Jeffery’s.

It’s so good to see you again…
You know how good friends can go years without seeing each other, then get together and behave as if they haven’t lost a step? We saw some of that today. People who’ve romanced with J-Bay in the past had no trouble rekindling the flame. And how sweet it was for guys like…

Mick Fanning: Mick Fanning carved through a 7.00 and an 8.00 in the first heat of the event against Sebastian Zietz and Dion Atkinson. He won. Don’t look so surprised.
Taj Burrow: Taj Burrow is still in world title contention. Taj Burrow is always in world title contention. He is forever in the top 5. Even though contention has never turned into content for TB, he still looked sharp this morning against Freddy P. and Matt Wilkinson. A win here could catapult him into real contention. Do it, Taj, we dare you.
Joel Parkinson: Kai Otton was here. At least in Round 1 he was. But Parko lost like a champion and had a Round 2 rebound against Brett Simpson in Round 2.
Kelly Slater: Kelly only had one wave. Well he caught a couple of waves, but he only caught one that mattered. South African wildcard Dylan Lightfoot had just surfed a (relatively) good wave. And, for a moment, the kid had control of the heat. Then Kelly caught his wave — a couple tubes, a couple turns, a flash of gold from the man who’s still searching for his first victory of 2014.
Jordy Smith: How does the highest heat total of 2014 sound? Yeah, that’ll do. Jordy’s 19.80 Round 1 heat was a total massacre. Jordy surfs J-Bay like John John surfs Pipe. He knows it that well. He surfs it with that much confidence. And the crowd was that pleased.

Love at first sight…or second
What’s better than a summer fling? Well, a lot of things are and that doesn’t matter anyway because it’s winter here in South Africa. At any rate, sparks flew today for a few guys who’d never before been successful with J-Bay. They included…

Michel Bourez: It wasn’t Michel’s first time to J-Bay, but it was clearly his best performance here. Mostly because he can smell that world title and wants so badly to have a taste. While he’s given himself no room for error in 2014, indications are that he won’t be making one. Not at Jeff’s, at least.
Gabriel Medina Gabe got Melling’d in Round 1, but came back with at least a little bit of vengeance in Round 2 against Dylan Lightfoot. His surfing was very hot and cold, very yes and no. He misread a couple of great waves but made up for it with that almost unnatural level of talent. Guess that’s why they call it a learning curve.
Kolohe Andino: And they said nothing gold (or silver, or bronze) can stay! After Kolohe placed second finish in his first ever final in Brazil, the peanut gallery said yeah yeah yeah, let’s see how he does in Fiji. Then after he got 3rd in Fiji, the peanut gallery said yeah yeah yeah, let’s see how he goes at J-Bay. Att J-Bay, Kolohe dusted Julian Wilson in Round 1 and last-minute-heroically so. Early signs are good for the young San Clementian. But seriously… let’s see how he does in Tahiti.
Aritz Aranburu: Ah-reetz, Ah-reetz, come on, chant it with me! I totally have Aritz fever right now. He threw some grenades today and earned a 9.08 for good ol’ power surfing. Watch him turn and call the doctor ASAP.
Josh Kerr: Remember when Josh Kerr couldn’t do turns. Those days are so bygone. Kerr looked smooth where it counted today (on rail) and tried a few airs while he was at it. Didn’t he just get a cover, too?
Julian Wilson: Go to the heat analyzer and watch the 9.33 alley-oop he did in Round 2. That is all.

They say that tomorrow…

With slim conditions, there’s a fat chance the comp will run (see what I did there). Waves are meant to pick back up on Monday. Until then, people will be freesurfing, petting lions, chasing actual rhinos and doing other Africa shit. It’ll be fun. ——Brendan Buckley