By all accounts, Keely Andrew had a tough go of things at the women's Corona Open J-Bay. She was eliminated by fellow Australian Nikki Van Dijk after a lully Round 2 heat. As the pumping conditions suddenly slowed down, both women were left struggling to find scores. Unfortunately for Andrew, Van Dijk was able to find a last-minute wave, eliminating her opponent by a mere 0.67 points.
But despite the early loss, Andrew isn't going home completely empty-handed: she's in a newfound love affair with South Africa. Before returning to Oz, the 23-year-old is spending a few extra days exploring what the country has to offer -- including an elephant walk and a safari.
The World Surf League: Is this your first time in South Africa?
Keely Andrew: Yes, this is my first time here. My sister-in-law is from South Africa and I have some friends back home that grew up here, so I'd heard some incredible stories about this place.
What do you think of it so far?
It's been amazing. There's so much to do and see. The places that surfing continues to take me blows my mind. Never would I have thought that I'd be traveling to South Africa for a surfing contest and then to say that it's my job.
You had a pretty close heat with Nikki in Round 2. What are your thoughts about it?
That was definitely a tough pill to swallow. The day we arrived and every day after that, Supertubes had been pumping. And then to get the average conditions in the afternoon was a bit frustrating. However, I feel like I surfed really well given the situation and my JR surfboards feel amazing as always.
Did the wave live up to your expectations?
I never really knew what to expect. Growing up on right pointbreaks and watching the men's event on the webcast in the previous years, I thought Supertubes might be similar to what I know. But coming and experiencing it first-hand, it's not at all what I thought it would be like. I loved surfing it and I'd say it's even better in person. It's true what they say, this wave is pretty perfect.
You visited the Elephant Walk in Port Elizabeth yesterday. What was that like?
Being that close to wild animals of that size was pretty amazing. It's almost hard to believe.
What else do you have planned for your time off here?
I have my parents with me here in South Africa so we are definitely going to take a few days and stay in a game reserve. I feel like it's something that you have to do while you're here. I'm really excited to have a few days off and just take everything in. I'm flying home in a few days, so I'm trying to make the most of every second we have here.
Overall, how would you describe your first J-Bay experience?
I'd say it's been amazing. I didn't know what to expect coming here but it's quickly become one of my favorite places. It was pretty cool to see Supertubes at some of its all-time best too.
The US Open is coming up next. What do you anticipate there?
I love the atmosphere around the US Open. Unlike any other events the pier acts like a grandstand and so many people come out and to watch surfing. I always enjoy surfing a beachbreak, too, so I'm always excited for the US Open.
Check back Wednesday for the call at 7:45 am. SAST and women's Round 3 action from the Corona Open J-Bay.