Why Jordy felt he had to go at Chopes
In a time when the general hubbub was that Jordy was soft-cocking in all the chunky lefts of the Championship Tour, the big South African decided to change his world in slabbing Teahupo’o.
It was as if something had sparked a change in Jordy Smith’s approach, and he had decided that it was time to prove to his detractors that he knew how to make the drop in solid lefts.
In 2011 there was a constant chatter in surf media that Jordy possibly wasn't the bravest at grinding through big backhand tubes on the Pro Tour.
That Jordy decided to transform all this nonsense in cracking Teahupo’o barrels, in a heat against close friend Travis Logie spoke volumes. Either of bravery or of desperation, but it was volumes. They headed out into 10-foot sets.
At this stage, Jordy wanted to win a world title, and he wanted to do it with the impatience of youth. Travis on the other hand merely wanted to requalify.
Jordy’s first wave was his first mistake. A giant set and a big drop onto a foamball that ate him up, and spat him out with four cracked ribs and torn cartilage.
“I didn’t even hit bottom as far as I can remember,” said Jordy days later. “I just got impacted so hard by the wave. I might have hit my board, but I was suddenly in real pain.”
He was immediately dragged onto a safety ski, and the heat was put on hold. It was a strange call to go on hold, and Pottz was fuming at the time. Without a second safety ski to act as an ambulance, there wasn't one to watch over the heat. The Rules stated that when the waves were deemed serious, no ambulance meant no surfing.
After a short break, the surfing resumed and Jordy surfed on, in abject pain, to win the heart over a pissed Logie, who wasn’t happy that the heat had been put on hold in the first place.
The rib injury was serious, and the call that had been made turned out to be a bit subjective. After some tense words, while bobbing around in the channel, it was decided that the two friends would need to have another go at it.
The next day the two surfers had a resurf. By this stage, the extent of Jordy’s rib injury had become clear. The pain was too severe and he was screaming as he took off on every wave, and he was beaten by the goofy-footer, who went on to place third and requalify in the process.
Despite his best intentions of proving to the world that he could charge big lefts, Jordy’s injury was also the end of his world title run, as he had to sit it out and recuperate for most of the remaining contest season.
These days Jordy does whatever he can to surf Pipeline and other big lefts, including buying a house near Pipe so that he can get the wave dialed. He has also spent countless hours at The Donkey (Namibia's grinding sand-bottom left) and while it might not always be that big in height, The Donkey is one of the trickiest waves to surf on your backhand when it is heaving.
That one wave at Chopes however, was the one that proved that Jordy was going to give it a go when it was time to step up to the plate. He wasn’t going to be the guy facing the ignominy of having to paddle in at Chopes like Toledo with a heat total of zero to his name.
Jordy might not have had the skills to ride it out at the time, but he did prove that he had the ticker to give it a go. One could argue the wave cost him a shot at the title, but it earned him both self-respect and a nod from his peers. If you wanna dance you gotta pay the band they say. At least Jordy knows he’s paid his dues.