A bunch of old surprises on day one.
We were all surprised to see the crisp early morning waves spinning down the point at first light. All except local Surf Director Eric Stedman that is. “The winds have been light recently, no matter what the forecasts have been saying,” reckoned Eric. “I think we will definitely get through plenty of surfing today.” All of round one was plenty enough. It’s always a bit of tediousness to get through that first round when the forecast looks slim, so it was a job well done today.
The second surprise was when Dane took to the water. There has been so much talk about Dane recently, and it definitely went to a positive place after his recent result in Fiji. His performance was inspired, and though he might have a little extra girth that simply transfers to more oomph in his turns. Today he showed the power and old flair that we all love so much as he relegated Adam Melling and Filipe Toledo to round 2. The fact that WSL has changed the rules to allow wildcards to retain points on the ratings could have great consequences for Dane. Another big result or two and he could easily be in the running for qualification for the 2016 season. Wouldn’t that be something? He was a very happy chap in the post heat interviews, bubbling and charming and talking excitedly about the waves, his board and life in general. It seems that Dane is in a happy place, or otherwise he’s on post-natal depression medication and can’t help but smile.
Mikey February from Kommetjie in Cape Town was another big surprise. Twenty minutes before heat five took to the water he was told that he had a slot and that he had better get a board and wetsuit if he wanted to surf. He did more than that. He pulled off a massive forehand reverse on a set wave to jump into the lead against defending champion Mick Fanning. Without wishing to detract from Mikey’s performance, Mick did soon take control of the heat and power through to a win with his trademark strong surfing and fast wraparound power turns that we have seen so many times before at JBay. Fanning has the place wired and knows when to apply a chokehold on a heat.
I’ve got this little Jack Russel terrier at home, and she is about 12 years old in dog years, which makes her an old lady, but she is so sprightly when she needs to be. When she feels threatened, is hungry, or wants to play, she turns into this young little puppy full of beans. Which brings me to Kelly Slater. Right now Kelly is either feeling threatened or ravenous for a win. His first move – a big rotation to the flats – had the crowd in awe and had the rest of the competitors quietly watching on with a little bit of chagrin on some of their faces. He killed his heat and was light years ahead of Matty Wilko and Micro Hall. The old Slater is definitely back. “I felt really good in my freesurf yesterday,” said Slater after his heat. ”I just felt really calm. Got to keep these guys on their toes while I’m here,” he added smiling.
The final surprise of the day was Jordy’s performance. It was below average. With so much expectation on the two times event champion, he was well out off sorts. It was rumoured that he woke up with a sore back and couldn’t loosen up, but he really didn’t seem to be able to focus or was able to string a series of decent scoring moves together. Jordy will need to lift if he wants to keep his J-Bay dream alive.
Recap: Heat Analyser
J-Bay Open Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.00, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.84, Taj Burrow (AUS) 5.26
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.27, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 5.60
Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.70, Owen Wright (AUS )12.86, Kai Otton (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.33, Adam Melling (AUS) 7.00, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.33
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.67, Michael February (ZAF) 11.33, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 7.66
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.03, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.24, Slade Prestwich (ZAF) 10.33
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.94, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.14, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.74
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.33, Glenn Hall (IRL) 5.40
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.60, Nat Young (USA) 10.00, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.87
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (USA) 14.90, Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.60, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.53
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.00, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 6.70, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 5.17
Heat 12: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.93, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.27, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.00
J-Bay Open Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Slade Prestwich (ZAF)
Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)