Jordy, John John and Julian all want that world title.
After the Hurley Pro Trestles settling of the dust, it has shaped up into a three horse race for the world title, with a few outsider possibilities alongside them.
Jordy Smith is leading the pack and we all know that his time is coming. Smith, who came into the event ranked No. 1 and 950 points ahead of 2016 World Champion John John Florence, earned a healthy little bonus of 8,000 points for his runner up slot at Trestles behind Toledo. The Durbanite is now 2,450 points ahead of Florence, and a decent 8,650 points above No. 3 Julian Wilson.
Smith wants a world title so badly, but he has been saying that for a number of years now, or the media has been saying it on his behalf. This year he is doing the job effectively so far, silencing a number of his critics with power surfing, mature contest savvy and what seems like a way better understanding of the bigger picture. Jordy has been running a Confidence Clinic every time he paddles out, whether for free surf, or in a heat – displaying nerves of steel when needed and doing what needs to be done for heat wins. The fact that he fell short in the final at Trestles makes no difference to his stature and mind-set and he goes into Europe firmly as contender for the title. He had a strategy and stuck to it, and was unlucky in the process.
Jordy has a great track record in Europe, and will be looking forward to this leg with relish, always shining in the beach break conditions of France and Portugal. His back half run looks very promising, and he just might just be the second South African men’s Championship Tour to win a world title, 40 years after Shaun Tomson took that crown.
“It’s time to get ready for Europe,” said Jordy after the event was completed. “It’s very happy-go-lucky and I like roaming those lineups and just being there.”
In previous reviews, and when pushed to find a weakness in the current world champion, a chink in John John’s armour it would have to be the fact that he might, at times, be found slightly wanting in the small wave department. That saga has now come to a close, and while Filipe often steals the show in micro-waves, John John now has as much game as needed to be a contender in the tiny stuff. Jordy already has the small wave game needed, despite his frame, but John John is now in the league to be straight into another world title, even if France and Portugal deliver small surf. He is the defending champion in Portugal, was the 2014 winner in France, and he always has the backup of being one of the best surfers of all time, already, at Pipeline.
With a good run over the next three events post-Trestles, John John could quickly get an unassailable lead on the others. There is very little chance of him losing his composure, and little chance of him not finishing the year in the top 2.
Ranked third on the Jeep leader board, Julian Wilson, the third Jay in the squabble, is something of an enigma, wrapped up in a mystery, and shrouded in a riddle. He doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, and he doesn't scream to the world his intentions of winning a title, getting an event win, or smashing an upcoming heat. He is a man who likes to get the job done, with minimal fanfare. When he wins a heat or an event he’s stoked, when he loses a heat or is involved in a close heat or a controversial call, he smiles for Rosy and the viewers, makes a polite comment about the situation and about what the future might bring, and moves along quietly. There is a chance however, that underneath his complacent exterior there is a dark heart that lurks. A dark heart that seethes at injustice, and at losing. A dark heart that screams for a victory, for applause and for exaltation. He has the goods for a final big push. A Portuguese win back in 2013, quarterfinal finish in France last year, and victory at Pipe in 2014. Julian could easily surge on the home straight, and leave everyone wondering what just happened. That would be way cool.