The unforeseen lines rolling through the Supertubes lineup in the early hours of this morning, kicked off the much-anticipated John vs. Jordy Quarterfinal. The action and excitement however, died together with the swell. Ultimately, selling us a dummy.
To the puzzled spectators it seemed obvious to call the contest off when a flat ocean saw a restart of the heat after 15 minutes of no rides. But the show went on. Regardless of who you wanted to make the heat, everyone was on edge with the ups and downs of an anti-climatic session.
Jordy eventually found a decent ride on the challenging waves, taking the lead with a 6.33 in the early stage of the heat. After a series of throw away scores, a frustrated John took to the air landing a solid air reverse, earning him a 7.33 (see image above).
“So today was really bizarre. I mean we woke up surprised that there were even waves,” said former South African WCT competitor and current WSL Presenter, Rosy Hodge. “All the competitors were stoked to get in the water and were really excited about surfing today. It was interesting because everyone was looking forward to the John John vs. Jordy heat and as soon as the hooter went, it just went dead flat and it was such a bummer.”
Tension was high as the average surf did little to help either surfer perform. It was like watching a magnificent artist attempt to paint a masterpiece – on gravel.
A set in the dying minutes of the heat saw both surfers up and riding for that crucial back up score. The heat ended and both surfers were on the beach waiting for the decision of the judges to score their average rides.
The air seemed to evaporate as spectators and surfers watched the replay with baited breaths. The announcement was made. It was John who got the score he needed, overtaking Jordy by just 0.20.
Ultimately, only one of the two phenomenal surfers was going to come out of the water with their J-Bay Open campaign in tact. But many of the spectators felt this could have been unfair given the conditions.
It could be argued that Jordy was underscored on his 4.71. And John John’s low scoring buzzer beater win left spectators with a feeling of ‘well that was kak heat.’
Poor conditions aside, at the end of the day, it was John who performed the most progressive move out there, surfing his back up wave as best he could.
It would appear the brunt lies with the official call to run today and it just so happens that the local boy Jordy unfortunately may have been hit the hardest from that decision.
Kelly Slater, who was supposed to surf the next quarterfinals, was seen taking off his contest vest whilst an unaware Josh Kerr paddled out for his heat. The conditions were so obviously poor and sure enough the contest was called off for the day.
“I was surprised that we were surfing in the first place,” Slater said. “The waves weren’t very good. John and Jordy didn’t have a very competitive heat, I mean they were close but they weren’t able to really to open up and do anything on their waves. The waves were pretty poor, I didn’t want to surf neither did Gabriel, Mick or the others so that kind of made the decision easier for me to go to Kieran [WSL Commissioner] with the support of those guys.”
We all want to see the remaining quarter-finals run in better conditions but it just adds salt to the wounds that the other surfers will get a better chance. Spectators watched an understandably unhappy Jordy Smith’s every move with puppy dog eyes and hushed whispers spread along the boardwalk and grandstands. Despite the attention, Jordy appeared to graciously accept the gamble that is surfing – for the cameras at least.
We continued to watch as Jordy hit the water for a free-surf where he channeled his energy into some mind-blowing surfing, keeping up the stoke.
*Lead Image © John John’s winning air. Image © Ian Thurtell