The Corona Open J-Bay woke up to absolutely flawless conditions and ran through the all-important third round of competition and two heats of the fourth. Surfers once again raised the bar and delivered mind-boggling performances, including the seventh perfect heat in WSL history by none other than hometown hero Jordy Smith.
Jordy took the lineup by storm in his Round Three matchup with rookie Leonardo Fioravanti. He started (relatively) slow, with a high 6 and two scores above 8 before finding perfection with a series of massive carves for his first 10. Clearly not satisfied yet, the South African continued and found another big set wave to perform his power carves for a second perfect 10-point ride, writing history as he dropped the first perfect heat ever surfed at Jeffreys Bay.
"It feels absolutely phenomenal," he said. "Just be to here at J-Bay where the waves are firing and to have that opportunity is incredible. My first two heats were really slow and to get blessed with that was absolutely amazing. There's more waves on offer so I definitely hope there's more in the tank."
"You go out there and give it absolutely everything you've got," he continued. "I don't want to take anything away from Leo, he's an absolutely amazing surfer especially on the rail so I just had to try and do my best surfing. This heat I was just fortunate to get the bombs. I couldn't believe it and I was really fortunate to get that. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get a Perfect 20 and to get it here at J-Bay makes it extra special."
In Round Four, Jordy had a decent lead over Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson when a small shark breached outside the lineup twice, prompting event officials, exercising an abundance of caution, to put the heat on hold and get all three surfers to safety. The event was ultimately called for the day and as soon as officials get their eyes on the conditions the decision will be made on whether to start the heat where it left off, or restart it from the beginning. Should conditions hold, it's likely the heat could resume where it left off, with Smith leading. If conditions change dramatically that will likely prompt a do-over.
Before the dramatic end to the day, however, more action unfolded. Gabriel Medina dominated an all-goofyfooter affair in Round Four to advance into the Quarters and relegate Joan Duru and Owen Wright into Round Five. The former WSL Champion found a good double-barrel to score a 9.07 and later dropped the hammer with a couple of huge vertical turns on his backhand for a 9.67 and the win.
"I've been surfing a lot recently to try out my boards," he said. "It's a bit tricky out there but when you find it, it's good. I knew it was going to be a tough heat against Owen and Joan so I'm really happy. I tried to be patient and trying to pick the good ones, which is hard. Every wave is really good so it's hard. It's the best feeling when you finish your last turn and you know it was a good wave."
Rookie Frederico Morais started his Round Four heat with an incredible wave, locking multiple rail-to-rail carves to post a 9.60 and apply pressure to John John Florence and Mick Fanning. John John answered casually with the day's cleanest and biggest barrel for a perfect 10-point ride of his own to get back in the lead.
Mick drew his effortless lines on a big J-Bay wall as well and dropped a 9.73. But by then, Frederico had pulled the trigger a second time with a 9.47 and a strong hold on the lead over two World Champions, which eventually won him a spot in the Quarterfinals.
"It was probably the best heat of my life against Mick and John," he said. "It can't get any better than that with John getting a 10, me with two nines and Mick was ripping too. The last two heats I didn't feel like I was surfing my best so I knew I had to give everything and be perfect in this round and that's what I did. Finally I feel like I've been doing my real surfing."
Crucial Round Three Heats with Heavy Consequences
Joan Duru put a serious dent in Adriano de Souza's Title campaign when he eliminated the Brazilian in a redux of their 2012 Final at Jeffreys Bay. Waves fired right from the buzzer and gave both surfers plenty of opportunities. Joan, who surfed yesterday in Round Two, seemed more in tune with the conditions and dropped two solid 7+ scores that Adriano, unfortunately, couldn't match.
Connor O'Leary had the Rookie of the Year race pretty much on lock with his recent final in Fiji and a quarters on the Gold Coast but Frederico Morais decided to put a stop to the Australian's momentum in their Round Three matchup. Connor had the upper hand with the heat's highest score of 7.33 but failed to back it up, even though he had a golden opportunity in the final minute. Holding priority over the Portuguese, Connor paddled for a wave and missed it. Fred caught the next one and the heat wrapped up with Fred's two 6s the recipe for success.
Conner Coffin, meanwhile, was having a tough sophomore year with three consecutive Round Two exits, but broke out of that early losing streak with an incredible performance today to eliminate one of the greatest surfers at Jeffreys Bay, Joel Parkinson . Conner built a 18.67 total in the opening 10 minutes of the heat with two near-perfect rides courtesy of his signature power carves on the big J-Bay walls, as well as a good barrel section. Parkinson, World No. 6, was building momentum and in the World Title race, but another 13th-place finish will not help his campaign.
Tune in for the next call, and possible resumption of Round Three, at 7:30 a.m. local time Wednesday morning.