J-Bay Open

Florence's Buzzer Beater Ends One-and-Done Day at J-Bay

Craig Jarvis

Florence's Buzzer Beater
The Hawaiian advances through one of the strangest Quarterfinal matches ever before J-Bay Open goes on hold.

Wave after bumpy wave poured down the point, and it was finals day. More swell than expected, less wind than expected. Medina was out there getting some bombs, as was Kai Otten. There were waves, good waves, and plenty of them.

The much-heralded heat between Jordy and John John was first in, and the two surfers paddled into a bumpy line-up. Then someone turned the taps firmly off.

With no waves coming through, the two sat, quite far up the point, and played a little bit of cat-and-mouse with no one giving in, until the first restart. There was almost a second restart, but John John picked up a little dribbler, repositioned further down the point, and the heat got underway.

The Aftermath
One man's thrilling win is another's agonizing loss. Jordy Smith and John John Florence react to their strange day at J-Bay.

The two sat again, while the ocean delivered nothing.

Finally a set arrived and Jordy was in the zone. It was a big and bumpy ride, mid-range score. Nervousness all around.

John John Florence winning Quarterfinal 1. Florence was the first one to takeoff in the heat, and his first move was strong, but he went for a nose-pick on the closeout section and went down hard. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

There was some more waiting around, and some questions arising about the chances of carrying on with the heat from a few interested parties. Despite the lack of waves, in the dying minutes of the first Quarter, Kerrzy paddled out for his second quarter. Alone.

As the clock ticked down, there was a quick flurry of waves, and the lead changed hands, back and forth.

Jordy Smith was eliminated in Quarterfinal 1. Jordy waited forever to get his first scoring ride. The 6.33 put him into the lead. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

And back.

John John needed a small score, and he nailed it down at the bottom. It was a very close call, with a 0.2 margin going the Hawaiian's way.

A very disappointed Jordy Smith barely managed to hold his composure during a post-heat interview, visibly thinking something along the lines of, 'what the hell just happened?'

Jordy Smith during the Quarterfinals. Florence's go-for-broke reverse earned him a 7.33, and put him in the lead for all of about 30 seconds with two minutes left to go. Jordy would surpass him on the next wave. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

He was as polite as he could be, walking away from his favorite event with a frustrating Quarterfinal finish. "There's not really much I can do," Jordy said in his post-heat interview. "It's not up to me, it's up to those five guys. They make the decisions at the end of the day, just super bummed out. ...Still, that's why we love surfing, for these kinds of reasons, you know. Hopefully I can get the bump on the next one."

Jordy Smith placed second in Quarter Final One. Smith got the lead back with a minute to go with a simple speed run. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

John John was the diametric opposite. He was cheerful, upbeat and smiling. He got the score he needed and advanced through to the Semifinals. "Stoked to make it through, that was a scary heat," said beaming. "That was definitely my favorite 3.37 ever!"

And Kerrzy? Well, he patrolled the diminishing lineup by himself. There were no other takers. Slater wasn't paddling out. The announcers called the contest off for the day and just like that, it was over.