"After a disappointing Europe leg, I came home really bummed out," Jordy Smith -- current World. No. 3 on the Jeep rankings -- recently posted on Instagram. "And what's always pulled me out of any slump is more surfing. So with a bit of swell in the water I did just that... and at the end of the day walking up the trail I felt a bit better... But still shitty."
Smith posted a clip of that session at Trestles. It was only two waves, but the level of surfing was as good anything Smith had put out in recent times. It looked like the South African was channeling the disappointment of the European leg and unleashing his frustration and fury in a series of savagely smooth wraps on the tapered, oily walls of Lower Trestles.
Just two months prior, Smith had left the cobblestones of Trestles on a high. He had pushed Filipe Toledo in small, slow and sluggish Trestles to snare highly impressive runner-up finish in the Hurley Pro and extended his lead on the Jeep Leaderboard. After a victory at Bells, a powerhouse performance at J-Bay and his best-ever finish at Tahiti, Smith was in the best position of his decade-long CT career to win a World Title. He had finished as the World No. 2 in 2016 and looked to have a new maturity to match his improved fitness. The incredible amount of work he had put in since an injury ravaged 2015 was now paying off.
But the wheels then fell off quickly in October, during the European leg of the Tour. After dealing with Round One effectively in both France and Portugal, he suffered shock losses in his Round Three heats against the wildcard Marc Lacomare in the Quik Pro France and to Josh Kerr at Portugal's Supertubes.
"I've had few opportunities in the heats and I feel that's been the story of my whole Europe leg," Smith said after the loss to Kerr. "I'm really sad and it's a bummer, but I've had so much love and support, so that's something to hold on to. Look, that's the reason we love this sport. You can cuss it when you lose, but it goes both ways. This last month just hasn't gone my way."
By the end of the European events, Smith's chance of winning the World Title had been drastically cut. Going into the Billabong Pipe Masters on Dec. 8 he still has a mathematical chance, but he needs Jeep Leader John John Florence to lose before the Quarterfinals, while he cracks the Final. Not impossible, but improbable, considering Smith has yet to make it past the Quarterfinals himself at Pipe. Regardless, Smith will use this chance to get over the disappointment of Europe and finish the year on a high. His surfing at Trestles showed that his dreams of a World Title are far from finished.
"I have to continue to do what I do every day," he said. "Just wake up and try to be better than the day before and give it everything I have got. I want to keep continuing to grow and to learn. I have to keep focusing and keep chipping away. I'll do my best and see where that puts me in the World Title. That goes for Pipe and for the future."