In fine form the entire competition, reigning World Champion Mick Fanning has taken out the J-Bay Open 2014 in an explosive Final again fellow Cooly Kid and good friend Joel Parkinson. After days of postponing, officials and surfers finally awoke to what they had been waiting for, solid swell lines, cooperating winds and great shape. The pair battled it out in a solid 6-8 foot swell at Jeffreys Bay, throwing on their game faces and going head to head in an impressive display of competitive surfing.
The much anticipated final day of the J-Bay Open started with Round 5 with some surprising results. The day begun with Josh Kerr taking on Adriano de Souza in the early, cross shore conditions. Though Kerr battled hard and surfed well, he was unable to complete crucial turns and exits on the long, grinding J-Bay walls. De Souza also struggled at some stages, though scored some mid range scores early, eventually proving enough to advance, knocking Kerr from competition.
“I was really excited because I’ve been watching this forecast the last few days,” said De Souza. “As soon as I woke up this morning, I saw beautiful waves, beautiful lines, because this is J-Bay. Every competitor in the world has luck, today was my lucky day.”
Taj Burrow took on Californian Kolohe Andino in Heat 2 of Round 5. Burrow was first to strike, paddling into a solid bomb and working the open faces through Supertubes. A opening score of 7.00 helped Burrow with his combination scores, as Andino struggled to match the Aussie veterans early performance. As the final minutes approached, Andino was still in need of a 7.86, a score which he was unable to find and was sent home, with Taj advancing through to the Quarterfinals.
Gabriel Medina next took on Tour veteran C.J. Hobgood. With conditions improving and the swell on the rise, the pair struggled to lock in a worthy score by half way through the Heat. C.J. eventually managed to scrape into a larger set, belting out backhand manourvres and a barrel, though slipped on his final turn. This perhaps was the wave that cost Hobgood his advancement, unable to find another wave and score of just 5.25 to overtake Medina and advance.
“It was a huge opportunity for me. Apples to apples, I felt like I needed a special wave, but I don’t think that was the case. Sometimes I have trouble finishing waves out here. But the flip side is, the waves are pumping, I’m a fan of surfing, and I’m grateful to be here.” said C.J.
Reigning World Champion Mick Fanning met Hawaiian Fred Patacchia in Heat 4 of Round 5. Solid sets rolled in instantly after the hooter sounded, allowing both surfers to attack the J-Bay line up. Fanning in typical form smashed the open faces of the long right hander, with his opening ride notching a 7.50. Though Patacchia managed to obtain some mid range scores, he was unable to match Fanning’s performance, with Mick advancing with a combination score of 15.67
“This is what we live for, epic J-Bay,” Fanning said. “For me surfing out there is just having fun. I was trying to channel a bit of Tom Curren from the Search days.”
The Quarterfinals began instantly after the conclusion of Round 5 with Joel Parkinson meeting Adriano de Souza. Parkinson did not waste any time, tearing apart the long open walls and posting a strong mid score of 6.83. De Souza found his form around the 20 minute mark, posting a mid score in the 5′s and enough to take the lead from Parko. Joel soon answered, pushing his board to its limits through a series of forehand manoeuvres for a 7.67, stealing the lead and proving too strong for the Brazilian.
An all Aussie Heat for Quarterfinal 2 saw an in-form Matt Wilkinson battle Taj Burrow for a spot in the Semi Finals. With some great surfing from both competitors and high scores being posted left, right and centre, the two went head to head for the entire Heat, impressing judges and spectators alike. Though Taj managed to post a score in the 9′s, Wilkinson proved too strong with his great backhand attack, being rewarded with his best performance on tour this year and a spot in the Semi Finals.
Current World Number 1 Gabriel Medina next came up against Australian Owen Wright. Excitement began as the two backhand surfers hit the empty Jeffreys Bay line up, everyone ready to see what the two could produce. Wright struck almost instantaneously, posting two mid range scores to begin his campaign. Medina was chasing Wright from the get go, as the two competitors went crazy on the fast and perfect solid walls of water. Wright managed to scrape together a strong combination score of 17.40, and although Gabriel was only a point behind, he could not match the Owen’s collected final scores.
Mick Fanning had surfed well the entire competition, and it was unfortunately Alejo Muniz who had to feel the World Champions wrath next in Quarterfinal 4. Although opening the scoreboard, Fanning soon left the Brazilian behind with an array of strong scores thanks to a powerful forehand attack. Although defeated, the result is still Alejo’s best result on Tour to date, which is surely something to be proud of.
Then there were 4. The all Aussie Semi Finals began with Parko meeting Wilkinson, and Fanning taking on Owen Wright. Joel won J-Bay in 2009 and began strong yet again, posting a 6 and then a high score in the 8′s for good start to his campaign. All thought it was over for Wilkinson, who surprised everyone and dropped a 9.77 in the final minutes. Though posting this strong score was like a light at the end of the tunnel, Matt was unable to back up and Parko moved to the Final. Owen Wright also came off second best to the powerhouse performance that is Mick Fanning. Though no doubt burnt out from the days competition, the two struggled to find composure early on, with Mick being pinched on a barrel, allowing for Wright to take an early lead. Both eventually found their feet, though it was Mick Fanning who stole the show, linking together turns and cutbacks with barrels and anything else that could be thrown into the line-up. This now made for a close friend and Coolie kid Final between Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning.
With the title already in Australian hands, it was now up to the Coolie kids to decide who would add the trophy to their personal collection on home soil. Friendship was left on the sand as both surfers struck instantly as the hooter sounded, Joel taking the first of the exchange. Parkinson destroyed the open faces opting for a strong opening score, before getting pinched on an inside barrel. Making things worse, he came up to watch Fanning tear apart the next wave of the set, getting a double barrel and being rewarded with a 9.00. Joel was not intimated, eventually paddling into a bomb and getting a long barrel and once again being in a position to take the win. Both surfers looked to be enjoying themselves, something different from the 1000+ line up they are used to at their local break Snapper Rocks. Fanning lead the scoreboard with a combination of 17.00, leaving Joel in need of a near perfect score to take the win. After a gruelling battle with his childhood friend, Parkinson eventually opted to come in early, unofficially handing Mick the title for J-Bay 2014.
“I never dreamed that I would get to surf a J-Bay final with Joel,” Fanning said. “Joel is one of my favourite surfers and my best friend, we’ve known each other since we were kids.”
“It was an amazing heat and Mick is such a good tactician,” Parkinson said. “I made a couple of bad decisions and I just didn’t get the right waves. It would’ve been nice to get a win but that was a brilliant day of surfing and it was so wonderful to be part of it.”
The win now puts Mick at #3 on the World Championship Tour and one step closer to holding onto his World Title. All of us at SurfStitch would like to congratulate Mick Fanning on this great win! A further congratulations to all other competitors on their outstanding efforts and for defying the infamous waters of South Africa!
*All images by ASP