19 July, 2014 19 July, 2014

Mick Fanning Wins J-Bay Open


With a near-perfect display in the Final of the J-Bay Open against Joel Parkinson (AUS),  Mick Fanning has claimed his second event victory on the 2014 Dream Tour. You could argue that nobody is happier than the Australian that J-Bay has returned to the World Tour, but a boardwalk and beach full of spectators would argue otherwise. It was packed!

Greeting the gathered crowd at first light this morning was a rainy, high tide and inconsistent Supertubes lineup. But a solid set which pulled through just after 7:30am prompted organisers to call the Final Day ON for an 8:00am start.

The predicted swell arrived on cue at dawn this morning.

Up first was Round 5 in the tricky high tide conditions. With the tide peaking at 8h50, the whitewater from the strong swell was washing right up to the dunes and spectators on the beach were constantly scrambling for the nearest high point.

In Heat 1, Adriano De Souza (BRA) took control of his match-up with Josh Kerr (AUS) and advanced to the Quarter Finals. Other than Mick Fanning’s 15.67 to advance over Fred Pattachia (HAW) in Heat 4, low heat totals were registered in the remaining Round 5 encounters as the tide very slowly drained. Every now and again though, an absolutely perfect set would pull through and give a taste of what the favoured low tide might deliver. Taj Burrow (AUS) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) joined Mick and Adriano in the last eight with victory over Americans, Kolohe Andino and CJ Hobgood respectively.

Gabriel Medina started his day with victory over CJ Hobgood.

By the time the Quarter Finals hit the water, Supertubes really started to turn on. The sets were beginning to break a little further out where the sand smooths out the rocky bottom, and instead of the pot-holed inside ledge making for some bumpy faces, clean tubes were unloading down the end section.

Joel Parkinson was up against Adriano in Heat 1, and easily out-scored the Brazilian in typical Parko style. His effortless (looking) approach is so perfectly suited to J-Bay, and he grabbed a 14.50 heat total without apparently having to change out of third gear.

Parko looked like the man to beat up until the final.

Taj Burrow registered the highest single wave score (9.27) in Quarter Final Heat 2 against Matt Wilkinson (AUS), but Wilko was looking deadly on his backhand while notching up a 9.00 and an 8.83 to take the win.

Owen Wright (AUS) then put ratings leader, Gabriel Medina (BRA) in a combo situation in Quarter Final Heat 3 with a 9.23 and 8.17. Gabriel fought back strongly with a last minute 9.40 though, but it was too little too late and he was eliminated.

In the last Quarter Final, Mick Fanning ended Brazilian, Alejo Muniz’s solid run in the event with surgical precision in pumping conditions. Did we already mention that it was cooking? Oh yes it was.

Supertubes showed-off for us today.

Following the Quarter Finals was the Legends match-up, which featured Tom Curren (USA) against Mark Occhilupo (AUS). It was epic to watch the two former world champs going head-to-head at cooking J-Bay, and Tom stole the show with the day’s first Perfect 10. After drawing perfect lines up the top of the point, Tom tucked into a long Impossibles barrel and flew out long moments later to massive cheers from the gathered spectators. We heard someone from the crowd utter something along the lines of, “He’s still got it, hey”, before his buddy chirped, “Class is permanent, bru!”

Classic style on a classic day by Tom Curren.

The Semi-Finals started immediately after, with Parko up against one of the crowd favourites, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Heat 1. In conditions Parko described as the “best J-Bay I’ve ever surfed”, the eventual finalist put it into fourth gear, then fifth as he tallied-up a massive 18.83 heat total that included the day’s second Perfect 10.

Take nothing away from the Wilko though, who smacked his last wave upside-down repeatedly all the way to Tubes to score a 9.77. But without enough time to paddle back out for another wave, he had to settle for equal third and major respect from the local crowd.

Matt Wilkinson put on a heck of a show on his backhand.

Mick Fanning then took on Owen Wright in Semi-Final 2 as the tide bottomed-out. Owen took the first wave to try and put pressure on Mick, but failed to hammer home an advantage as he fell without completing his ride. Mick then took control with an 8.00, which he followed with a 9.00 to ultimately clinch victory and book his spot in the Final.

During the break between the Semi’s and the Final, the lineup filled quickly with freesurfers looking to get their own piece of the action. But their joy was short-lived, as Mick and Parko waxed-up again and headed out thirty minutes later. There was standing room only on the beach as the pair paddled out at the keyhole, and moments later the Final was ON.

Mick started strongly in the Final.

Mick kicked things off with an incredible wave ridden right from the top of the point, on which he tucked into a pair of tubes that were punctuated with huge carves. While he ran back up the beach and the crowd cheered, Mick’s score was announced – a 9.00 – and the pressure was on for Parko.

Joel looked to answer back shortly after, but got clipped as he tried to exit a high-line tube and the pressure mounted some more. Fanning backed-up his 9.00 with an even 8.00, which put Parko in a combination situation that he just could not find an answer for. Joel did score a 7.43 to reduce the deficit to 9.56 with time remaining, but eventually had to call it a day with just a few minutes left and as the strong swell washed him down the beach after another failed attempt to get the required score.

Mick Fanning has been crowned the 2014 J-Bay Open Champion.

Check out aspworldtour.com for all the results, heat reviews and highlights from an incredible Final Day at the J-Bay Open.

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