Good waves greeted us this morning at Supertubes for Day 3 of the waiting period of the J-Bay Open, encouraging organisers to get Round 1 underway. Conditions quickly deteriorated, however, after the wind switched onshore and the heats started flying by.
Conditions were promising at dawn.
Michel Bourez (PYF), Julian Wilson (AUS) and CJ Hobgood (USA) scored the best of the morning conditions to advance directly to Round 3 by taking out the first three heats respectively, before wildcard Dane Reynolds (USA) paddled out to do battle with Adam Melling (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) in Heat 4. Although he looked out of rhythm and was falling a lot in the lay day free surfs, Dane found his flow and ripped his way through to Round 3 with an impressive display of radical and powerful turns.
Cape Town’s Mikey February received the welcome surprise news this morning that he’ll be taking Matt Banting’s spot in Heat 5, after the Australian pulled out of the event due to injury. The local crowd got excited after hearing that there will be a third Saffa joining Jordy Smith and Slade Prestwich in the event, and M-Feb didn’t disappoint as he took the first wave of the heat and proceeded to smash it down the line. Mikey backed up his opener with a 6.50 a few minutes later, including a smooth-as-you-like air reverse that had the crowd on their feet. With Mikey holding the early lead, reigning J-Bay champ Mick Fanning surfed his opening ride clinically to score a 7.50, which he backed up shortly after with a 8.17 to easily take the lead. Neither Tomas Hermes or M-Feb had an answer to that quick two wave salvo from Mick, and they’ll have to try again in Round 2.
Doing it for the locals; M-Feb surfed well but fell just short in Heat 5.
JBU Supertrial winner, Slade Prestwich paddled out in the next heat against ratings leader Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Kolohe Andino (USA), but conditions had deteriorated by this point and made things difficult. In a see-saw battle, Adriano looked to be on his way straight through to Round 3, but Kolohe managed to score a 7.93 on his last ride of the heat to grab the win. Slade was left needing an 8.70 that never came, and he’ll get another chance in Heat 1 of Round 2 against Adriano once again.
Josh Kerr (AUS) got the better of Hawaiians Sebastian Zietz and Dusty Payne in Heat 7, before Kelly Slater hit the water for Heat 8 against Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Glenn Hall (IRL). It hasn’t been the best season for the 11-time world champ this year, but he looked in good form in Round 1 to combo both his opponents with a strong 17.00 heat total – the highest of the opening round.
Kelly Slater top-scored in Round 1.
Ace Buchan (AUS) won the battle of the goofyfoots in Heat 9 over Nat Young (USA) and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), before Hawaii’s Fred Pattachia did the same in the following heat against Brazilians Italo Ferreira and Jadson Andre. Crowd favourite Jordy Smith then paddled out to face Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Ricardo Christie (NZL) in the second last heat of the day, and it’s a heat he’d probably like to forget. Bede managed to pick off the best rides available in the messy conditions and surfed them clinically to put both Ricardo and Jordy on the ropes. Ricardo did manage a 4.17 score on his third ride to ensure he was still in with a shot at the heat win as the clock wound down, but Jordy was left still needing two scores at the final hooter. He’ll be hoping for better conditions and better luck in Round 2 when he faces Adam Melling.
The last heat of the day featured two world champs in Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Joel Parkinson, who were up against the short and stocky Hawaiian, Keanu Asing. World titles mean little once you hit the water, though, and Keanu made the most of the tricky conditions to advance directly to Round 3 with a narrow win over Parko in second and Gabriel in third.
Dane Reynolds was shredding to take the win in Heat 4.
Go to worldsurfleague.com for all the heat reviews of Round 1’s action.