"A wounded lion is still fiercer than a strong wolf," goes the African proverb. When Jordy Smith paddled out against Conner Coffin in Round 5 of the 2017 J-Bay Open, he had every reason to feel aggrieved.
This was his second re-surf of the event. In his round four clash with Filipe Toledo and Julian Wilson, Jordy had been comfortably winning the heat when a breaching shark called a halt to competition for the day.
The next morning dawned and the devil wind had come up. The heat was started from scratch and Filipe took to the air, negating Smith's power based approach. The South African wasn't happy.
"I think it was bad form," Smith said the next day, "we should have at least started the heat where we left off." He had a point, but it was now a moot one. Instead of skipping Round 5 and going to the Quarterfinals, he was drawn against Conner Coffin.
With the surf building, Smith regrouped and again showed the form that had seen him bag a perfect 20 point heat total in Round 3. He dominated the heat and was through to the Quarterfinals… or so he thought.
Conner lodged an appeal however believing that one his tubes on the end section had been missed by both the judges and cameras. The Head Judge deemed the result was not accurate and that the heat would have to be re-surfed.
By this stage Smith, to put it bluntly, was pissed. With J-Bay pulsing each heat was taking a huge physical toll on the surfers. Two extra heats would take plenty of fuel out of the big South African's tank.
Smith however channeled that anger and unleashed it on the perfect J-Bay walls. His first wave, a 9.37, was finished with an aggressive chest beating claim that showed just how fired up he was. He backed that with another 10, his third of the event, sending the local crowd wild. There was no way Conner, sharks, fate or the judges were taking this victory from him.
Sadly for Smith this performance proved to be his peak. A loss to Filipe Toledo in the Semifinal thwarted his attempt to win a third J-Bay title. The added emotional and physical energy required for the two re-surfs may have been a factor, but regardless he was out. The roller coaster was over, but what a ride it had been.