Following a physically painful first round at the J-Bay Open, South African Jordy Smith considered withdrawing from the competition before ultimately deciding to challenge Adam Melling (AUS) in Round 2.
Though he competed, Smith was visibly sluggish throughout the heat that eventually went Melling's way. Smith now adds a second 25th place finish to his season record. The South African injured his back during a freesurf between the Ballito Pro, which ran in South Africa in early July, and the J-Bay Open, which runs through July 19.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Smith said prior to his decision. "The fire inside of me says I can surf but another side of me is thinking what else could go wrong."
This is Smith's third injury since the Billabong Pipe Masters in December, 2014. After using the offseason to rehabilitate a shoulder injury, he started the season with solid results at Snapper and Bells. But his upswing was soon derailed when he hurt his knee in a freesurf during the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.
He competed in the next event, the Oi Rio Pro, mostly because his physical therapist was on site, but his injury hampered his performance and he was eliminated in Round 2. Smith withdrew from the event after that, the Fiji Pro, to continue rehab on his knee and felt in good form in time for J-Bay. But two days before Round 1, Smith felt his back give out.
"It's like I can't get ahead," he said. "I know this isn't gonna be a great year for me and I think at a later stage I can get a couple good results."
The recent string of injuries has given Smith a "reality check," as he describes it, on the role that freesurfing should play in his career at a CT surfer.
"I'm beginning to realize that you're either a freesurfer or you're hunting down World Titles. I think I'm a World Title guy."
There is no word on whether or not the injury will affect Smith's ability to surf in the next event, the Billabong Pro Tahiti, which runs August 14 - 25, 2015. Coincidentally, Smith suffered an injury after a heavy wipeout at Stop No. 7 last year.