Date: Thursday, July 10
Schedule: Round 1
Conditions: Five-to-seven-foot (1.5- to 2.1-metre) faces at Supertubes
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.00, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.77, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.80
The Hawaiian got the best of the opening exchange with a 6.00. The reigning three-time ASP World Champion stayed busy throughout the heat, eventually posting a 7.00 and 6.43 compliments of the signature forehand attack.
Fanning continued to strengthen his lead over his younger competitors, posting the first excellent ride of J-Bay Open competition with an 8.00. Fanning's 7.00 and 8.00 saw the two-time event winner snag a convincing Round 1 win.
"Growing up it's one of those waves you always want to surf. To have a heat here is so special and winning it is something I'll always remember," Fanning said. "The waves were amazing coming through but that Devil wind is really tricky. I finally got a couple waves to put it together at the end."
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.34, Freddy Patacchia Jr. (HAW) 12.04, Matt Wilkinson (AUS)10.67
Sets rolling in had plenty to offer and another quick exchange at the horn saw three consecutive takeoffs. Taj Burrow had the highest of the three opening scores with a 7.67 for a long progression of vertical snaps and a floater to close. With a variety of backhand hacks and a rail-grab in the barrel, Fred Patacchia took the lead with a combination score of 8.84.
Burrow took over the lead at the halfway mark, scoring a 5.00 on his second wave. Keeping busy, Burrow held on to the lead, ultimately replacing his bottom score with a 7.67 and putting Wilko in a combination situation and the Hawaiian in need of an excellent score. Patacchia took off with a minute remaining but was swallowed up when he tried to brake for a barrel. Burrow earns the direct advance to Round 3.
"Where I was, I got a little better look at it and I just knew it was going to do something down the line," said Burrow. "I've surfed out here a lot so I guess that helps."
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) 17.24, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.60, Glenn Hall (IRL) 9.46
Otton's floaters and tight backhand turns were enough to let him edge ahead of Parko by mid-heat. Otton emerged as the unequivocal, in-form athlete of the heat, committing to each turn with power. Parkinson, meanwhile, appeared to hold back until the end.
In the final moments, Otton and Parko went wave-for wave, each pulling into barrels with expert finesse. Otton tucked into a tight tube, while Parkinson rode triumphant from a bigger barrel that broke behind him. Both surfers scored nine-point-range rides but Otton's bottom score carried him to the end as the heat winner.
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.90, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.77, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.33
The first major exchange saw Raoni Monteiro and Adrian Buchan exchange average rides to get a rhythm going. Michel Bourez started on a big set and hit the lip with his signature, power-frontside hack before pulling in for a double-barrel. The Tahitian locked in an 8.33 to take the lead.
With only seconds on the clock, Monteiro utilized his priority and started on the biggest wave of the heat to perform a series of critical turns in the pocket. Monteiro scored a 7.77 and grabbed the second position.
In a last-second effort, Buchan also started on a wave just before the final horn, looking for a 7.08. Unfortunately for Buchan the wave didn't cooperate, and only let him hit the lip twice, for a 5.50.
"I never did better (than ninth) here but every time I come here I'm having fun, I have a big smile on my face and I just want to go out get the best ones and get through the heats," said Bourez.
Heat 5: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.10, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.50, Brett Simpson (USA) 8.50
The heat saw World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA) enter the lineup in his yellow jersey, going up against Adam Melling (AUS) and Brett Simpson (USA). All surfers hit the scoreboard early with minor points as they struggled to adjust to the speed of the waves, and to Supertubes' difficult takeoff spot.
Melling and Medina exchanged mid-range scores, with Medina taking the lead at the halfway point of the 30-minute heat. The young Brazilian used his trademark bottom-to-top turn whips and cracks to build confidence in his first-ever WCT heat at J-Bay.
Melling pounced with only three minutes on the clock to score a heat-high of 7.27 and steal the lead from the current World No. 1. Melling's ride was one of the longest of the heat and his turns, carves, and tube ride were all on point as he advanced to Round 3.
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00, Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) 11.67, Mitch Crews (AUS) 9.10
Mitch Crews opened with a solid wave, but Kelly Slater quickly followed suit. Despite having landed in Durban at midnight the night before, the 11-time World Champion took on Supertubes with ease. He tucked for quick tube covers, executed sweeping frontside hacks, and at one point nearly completed an alley-oop on the inside.
About 20 minutes in, 19-year-old wildcard Dylan Lightfoot dropped into his first wave, and unleashed powerful turns up the faces, armed with the confidence that stems in part from local knowledge. By the halfway mark Slater led the pack, followed by Lightfoot. Crews, a Tour rookie, was trailing, held back by a series of scores fewer than 5 points each.
With just over five minutes left, Crews saw an end to his Round 1 effort when he broke his board on the lip of a smaller wave. His exit left the lineup to the champ and the wildcard, waiting for set waves.
Heat 7: Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 15.86, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.54, Nat Young (USA) 9.10
Heat 7 saw backsiders Nat Young and Miguel Pupo take on Aritz Aranburu on his forehand. Supertubes is traditionally a tricky wave for the backhand surfers and today Fiji Pro runner-up Young was put to the test early as he made some uncharacteristic falls. Aranburu struck first clocking a couple of keeper scores early.
Aranburu found a gem and unloaded a series of power gouges and carves before pulling into a deep tube on the inside and was rewarded with a solid 9.03. Young and Pupo were both left searching for near-perfect scores to turn the heat, but only managed mid-range scores and were thus relegated into Round 2.
Heat 8: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 14.27, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 9.56, C.J Hobgood (USA) 8.30
Heat 8 saw the first restart of the event, after the opening 10 minutes didn't offer any waves of consequence.
When the heat finally got underway, Adriano De Souza, who won the most recent ASP J-Bay event, a QS competition run in 2013, was active early on. He tried to build his scoreboard on multiple waves.
The 20-minute mark brought a set of large waves and saw C.J Hobgood surf a fast righthander to collect his first significant score. Alejo Muniz answered back on the second wave of the set, but was unable to keep up with the ocean's rhythm.
De Souza then took command of the lineup and surfed a solid wave to increase his lead. On his final maneuver, he broke his board and was forced to come in and switch equipment. Still, despite his opponents' efforts to come back, De Souza kept building momentum on his back-up board and posted a heat total of 14.27 to seal the deal.
"It is in my blood," De Souza said. "I'm really motivated every time and I always want to improve."
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.33, Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.67, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.10
A flurry of action saw the Heat 9 competitors jump on each of the five waves in the first set, though they struggled to keep pace with the break. Filipe Toledo scored the better of the low scores but needed a second wave to take the lead.
With the jitters of the opening 10 minutes behind them, the surfers started to settle. Josh Kerr opened up the next sizable set with methodical carves down the line. Toledo launched his rail game for his second wave, scoring a 7.50 to briefly capture the lead.
Kerr was the first to throw away his bottom score, replacing his opener with a 6.40 for a similar progression of seamless turns. A rail ride followed by a huge layback under the 10-minute mark extended his lead, and sent his heat opponents on the hunt for big scores. All three surfers took off in a last-minute set: Tiago Pires ran down the line for an 8.17. On the wave behind him, Toledo launched a massive air but couldn't find his feet to finish. Kerr took the wave from there, throwing a huge reverse for a solid 8.83, negating Pires's late-heat heroics.
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 19.80, Owen Wright (AUS) 17.03, Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.67
The heat had barely begun when local favorite and two-time J-Bay winner Jordy Smith racked up 19.30 points on back-to-back waves. Smith boasted a deadly combination of local, nuanced knowledge, the athleticism to take on Supertubes' fast, steep waves, and the pressure to bring in a good score after an early season of mixed results.
With fewer than 10 minutes on the clock, Andre fought to gain some ground, driving down the line on his backhand. But he fell off in crumbling lip, and paddled back out for another chance. Smith followed up with another attack, pulling off a the first Perfect 10-point ride of the event, which featured seamless carves, a massive floater, and a final tube ride for good measure.
It was the first rout of the event, and confirmation of Smith's prowess on home turf.
"I was anxious because I haven't surfed a contest here in three years and I wanted to be on the best waves of the heat," Smith said. "I ended up breaking my leash -- everything happens for a reason, it gave my time to relax and reset and then I went back out got my 10.
"I can't thank the crowd enough, they come from all over South Africa to see this event and I appreciate their support," he said. I think I was one of the first to know this event was back on Tour and I wanted to start preparing right away."
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) 8.57, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 8.16, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 3.87
Jeremy Flores opened Heat 11 with a couple of minor scores, followed down the point quickly by John John Florence and Bede Durbidge. Florence only unloaded a couple of turns on his opener, but finished the ride with the aerial of the day - a massive fin throw reverse. Durbidge powered his way down the line with searing carves and turns to take an early advantage.
Florence backed up his opener with a fast and furious barrage of carves and lip bashes that saw him leapfrog Durbidge. All three surfers tried and failed to increase their scoreline in the dying minutes.
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.00, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.53, Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.64
Julian Wilson patiently waited 10 minutes to paddle onto his first wave but started with a bang. The Australian stood up behind a long J-Bay section only to catch up with the powerful section of the wave and display his progressive surfing repertoire to collect a 7.50.
Kolohe Andino answered back almost immediately, showing he too can throw the fins out and complete rotations. Travis Logie rounded out the exchange with a long wave and a succession of powerful backhand gouges and carves. All three surfers benefitted from the set with a solid score on the board.
Wilson backed up his best ride on another wave he surfed with a more traditional approach while Logie caught the following wave very similar to his first. With two minutes remaining, Andino used his priority wisely to catch a big wave he surfed perfectly for an 8.00, enough to take back the lead from Wilson and win the exchange.
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.90 def. Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) 11.27
Local wildcard Dylan Lightfoot started strong, keeping busy to take an early lead over current World No. 1, Gabriel Medina. Both of the young phenoms were working with smaller waves that didn't allow for the power moves of previous heats. Still, Lightfoot and Medina took advantage of the crumbly surf.
Medina pulled a flawless air reverse, which Lightfoot followed up with a seemingly effortless air. In the final minutes, Lightfoot looked to regain the lead, but needed a big score. Medina's efforts were rewarded: He edged out the up-and-comer, and advances to the next round.
"I just tried to be smart, to get the big ones, and do the big turns, and work it out," Medina said. "I'm letting things happen. I don't want to think about [the World Tour rankings], I just want to surf and do my best."
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.43 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.43
Brett Simpson put Joel Parkinson on alert when he nabbed the first wave of the set for a midrange 5.50, the better of the opening exchange. The Aussie showed polished surfing with smooth transitions and rail work for a 6.33 and a narrow lead.
With the tide filling in, smaller waves kept larger scores at bay. The two surfers sat with just a half-point separating them, as they headed into the final 10 minutes. Simpson found a clean face to work some tight carves and clean floaters, but was unable to finish cleanly. Parko replaced his bottom score with a 6.10 and avoided elimination.
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) 16.10 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 8.63
The Californian then changed his pace to net the first good score of a 6.00, for a succession of vertical hits into the lip.
Monteiro briefly claimed the heat lead with a second average score, but Young was quick to back up his opening ride and steal the lead from the Brazilian.
Comfortably leading the heat, Young continued to perform and improve his overall score, while enjoying the opportunity to surf pumping J-Bay with only one other surfer in the lineup.
"I just wanted to get out there again -- I had a bit of a shocker in my last heat," Young said. "I wanted to get into rhythm and have some more fun. It's been a good year for me so far. I've done well in some events and made some mistakes in others.
"I did the QS here a few years ago," he said, "but I was really sick, so I came here early to get ready for this year's J-Bay Open."
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.33 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 4.80
Wilson backed up his opener with some more progressive and powerful surfing and one of the best airs of the day, while Hall was eliminated with a pair of small scores.
The conditions began to deteriorate, with surf and scoring potential fading quickly. Following Hall and Wilson's heat, J-Bay went on standby until the next call Friday, June 11, at 7:30 local time.
Catch up on all the athlete results on the J-Bay Open events hub. The morning show will be LIVE on aspworldtour.com again June 11.