Day 1 of the ASP J-Bay Open saw some great waves, stand out surfing and the contests first perfect 10 point ride. With a 6 foot swell hitting the grinding right hand shelves of J-Bay, The call was made around 7:30am local time that indeed the contest was ON! With a schedule planned to complete Round 1 on the first day of competition, surfers and officials wasted no time at all, with Mick Fanning, Sebastian Zietz and Dion Atkinson hitting the water first to open the prestigious event.
All surfers managed to get a wave under their belts in the opening minutes, though it was the Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz to take the early after the early exchanges. Mick Fanning eventually demonstrated why is the the reigning 3 time World Champion, destroying the open lineup and posting a 7.00 and 6.43. The lead continued, with Fanning posting the first high score of the competitiion, a score 8.00. This proved enough to send his younger competitors to Round 2 as he advanced directly to Round 3.
‘Growing up it’s one of those waves you always want to surf. To have a heat here is so special and winning it is something I’ll always remember.’ said Mick.
Heat 2 saw Taj Burrow up against Hawaiian Freddy Patacchia Jr. and fellow Aussie Matt ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson. Like a mirror image of the previous Heat, all surfers paddled into waves almost immedietly, with Burrow taking the lead after the early first exchange through a combination of carvges and snaps, finishing with a floater. Patacchia soon struck back with his backhand attack, with a combination score of 8.84. The Hawaiian’s lead didn’t last long, as Burrow eventually struck back half way through the Heat, again taking the lead, leaving Wilkinson in a combination situation. The two were unable to match Burrows performance, as the Australian tour veteran advanced directly to Round 3.
“Where I was, I got a little better look at it and I just knew it was going to do something down the line,” said Burrow. “I’ve surfed out here a lot so I guess that helps.” said Taj.
Joel Parkinson, Kai Otton and Ireland’s Glenn Hall hit the water next in Heat 3 of Round 1. Joel started in typical form, with perfect drawn lines and style. Through Parko took an early lead, a strong backhand attack from Kai Otton allowed him to advance over his fellow countryman. Parkinson fought back in the final seconds, pulling into a barrel and receiving a score in the 9′s. Kai did the same, pulling into a long tube, also receiving a 9 point score, with his earlier score helping to keep the lead, sending Hall and Parkinson to battle it out in Round 2.
Michel Bourez has taken two events in the 2014 season so far, and his strong attack continued into J-Bay and Heat 4. Bourez met Raoni Monteiro and Adrian Buchan, all eager to send each other to Round 2. Buchan and Monteiro were first to put up mediocre scores through the first exchange, while Bourez played the waiting game. It paid off for the Tahitian, locking in a score of 8.33 through an array of monouvres, including a frontside hack and barrel. Monteiro and Buchan tried to strike back, though both fell shot.
“I never did better (than ninth) here but every time I come here I’m having fun, I have a big smile on my face and I just want to go out get the best ones and get through the heats,” said Bourez.
Heat 5 saw Australian Adam Melling meet World Number 1 Gabriel Medina and Brett Simpson. All surfers posted early scores, though seemed to struggle gathering their composure. Soon enough it was on, with Melling and Medina exchanging mid range scores. The World Number 1 took the lead and continued his strong campaign of powerful carves and hacks. Melling was not intimidated, giving Medina a run for his money and delivering a 7.27 to take the lead in the final minutes. Adam moves directly to Round 3 as Medina and Simpson have another shot in Round 2.
Coming up against Kelly Slater at any stop of the World Tour is an instant threat and nerve racker. That was the case for local Dylan Lightfoot and Australian Mitch Crews as they met the 11 time World Champion in Heat 6 of Round 1. Crews struck early on a solid wave, though Slater was on the same trail, attacking the walls of Supertubes with what seemed to be no concern. Through barrels, frontside hacks and an attempt at a alley-oop, Slater showed his younger competitors how it was done. Lightfoot, the local South African, delivered his first wave 20 minutes into the 30 minute Heat, demonstrating local knowledge through a display of powerful manouvres. Crews struggled to fight back as his campaign fell even shorter through a broken board. Crews and Lightfoot now go to Round 2.
Miguel Pupo, Nat Young and Aritz Aranburu next met in Heat 7. With Young and Pupo on their backhand, it was an exciting Heat. It was Aranburu on his attacking forehand that impressed judges an spectators, finding one of the best waves of compeition and being rewarded with some powerful carves and a long tube ride. The wave was scored a 9.03, with the two backhand surfers left unable to match the great performance.
Heat 8 saw Adriano De Souza, tour veteran C.J. Hobgood and Alejo Muniz battle it out for a spot in Round 3. After the first 10 minutes failed to deliver any worthy waves for the trio, De Souza managed to open the scoreboard. though the Brazilian managed to only get a few mid range scores under his belt, C.J. soon struck at the 20 minute mark with a strong score. Alejo Muiz also opened his campaign around the time, though came up short of C.J.’s score. Adriano answered back to Hobgood, producing a great score, though snapped his board on his final manoeuvre. Regardless of having to continue on a back up board, De Souza’s lead proved to strong for Hobgood and Muniz as he moved directly to Round 3.
“It is in my blood,” De Souza said. “I’m really motivated every time and I always want to improve.”
Heat 9 saw a heap of action as Josh Kerr hit the water with Filipe Toledo and Tiago Pires. All surfers managed to scrape into waves for the opening exchange, though it was Toledo to take the first lead. Kerr and Toledo finally locked in some competitive scores after the first 10 minutes, with Filipe continuing to lead the Heat with a score of 7.50 for his second wave delivery. Kerr soon lived up to his reputation, destroying the walls of Supertubes and stealing the lead from Toledo, thanks to a huge layback turn which certainly wowed audeinces. As the Heat’s conclusion was approaching, all surfers went crazy giving it everything they got. Toledo through a huge air though was unable to find his feet, as Kerr did the same and delivered a huge air reverse for another strong score of 8.33.
It was time for the competitor everyone had been anxious to see. 2 x event winner and local lad Jordy Smith took on Owen Wright and Jadson Andre in Heat 10 of Round 1. Smith certainly did not hold back, using his local knowledge and confidence to absolutely take the J-Bay line-up to town, with a combination score of 19.30 within the first few minutes. Wright tried to answer back to the local, combining his scores to sit on a 17.03 while Andre was put in a critical combination spot, needing 9′s to match the performances of the other competitors. Smith continued his domination, managing to score the first perfect 10 in competition so far. Needless to say it was Jordy SMith who moved directly through to Round 3.
“I was anxious because I haven’t surfed a contest here in three years and I wanted to be on the best waves of the heat,” Smith said. “I ended up breaking my leash — everything happens for a reason, it gave my time to relax and reset and then I went back out got my 10.
John John Florence, Bede Durbidge and Jeremy Flores next to the J-Bay line up, for Heat 11 of Round 1. The heat opened with mid range scores from Flores, until Florence unloaded a huge air reverse after impressive turns on his opening ride. Durbidge also delivered, showing spectators and judges his skills through long down the line carves and turns. Jeremy Flores finally found his form, though was unable to match Florence’s early performance.
The final Heat of Round 1 saw Julian wilson meet Kolohe Andino and Travis Logie. With conditions continuing to pump and the sunshine out, the surfers jumped straight into it. Wilson waited 10 minutes to start his campiagn at J-Bay, starting with a strong score of 7.50 through an impressive forehand attack. Andino and Logie soon struck back, both showing their eagerness to progress through to further Rounds. While spectators may have thought Wilson would take the Heat, Andino fired another shot in the closing minutes. The American used his priority and locked into a bigger wave, securing a 8.00 and stealing the lead from the Australian.
Though the schedule was to aim to complete Round 1, the days waves and dropping swell saw judges choose to follow through directly into Round 2. Medina met local wildcard Dylan Lightfoot, both youngsters going mental to avoid elimination. Both surfed well and pulled some epic airs and manvouvres, though it was the World Number 1 who would advance.
“I just tried to be smart, to get the big ones, and do the big turns, and work it out,” Medina said. “I’m letting things happen. I don’t want to think about the rankings, I just want to surf and do my best.”
Parkinson met Brett Simpson in Heat 2 of Round 2. Simpson took an early lead after the first exchange of waves, though it wasn’t long until the perfect style and skills of Parkinson came into play. The Aussie took a small lead over the American with a 6.33. The Heat continued to supply both surfers with average scores, though in the end it was Joel to advance through to Round 3 and avoid early elimination.
Heat 3 of Round 2 saw Nat Young meet Brazilian Raoni Monteiro. The first 10 minutes saw nothing special on the scoreboard, until Young eventually through a nice display of top to bottom turns and snaps off the lip, enough for a 6.00. The two played tennis with leading the Heat, until Nat Young advanced on his lead over the Brazilian, enough to advance.
“I just wanted to get out there again. I had a bit of a shocker in my last heat,” Young said. “I wanted to get into rhythm and have some more fun. It’s been a good year for me so far. I’ve done well in some events and made some mistakes in others.
The final Heat of the first day of competition at the J-Bay Open was a match up between Julian Wilson and Glenn Hall. Julian took the lead after the two traded waves on the first exchange, leaving Hall in awe and a big score to match from the very start. Wilson continued to maintain the lead, throwing another huge air into his campaign, while Hall unfortunately was eliminated.
The next call is at 7:30am local time today. If you are on the East Coast of Australia, that’s 4:30pm our time. Congratulations to all the surfers and their performances on Day 1 of competition. We all can’t wait to see what’s to come and who will take out the 2014 J-Bay Open! Keep up to date with all the latest here on the SurfStitch Blog!
*All images by ASP