"Jordy Smith has done some of the best carves we have ever seen in surfing. He has done some of the biggest airs in history," Ross Williams, a WSL commentator and current coach of John John Florence said last year. "However a huge shack at Pipe is so addictive. It's a healthy addiction and I think Jordy might have started to get it."

Jordy Smith (ZAF) is eliminated from the 2018 Billabong Pipe Masters with an equal 3rd finish after placing second in semifinal heat 1 at Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Jordy Smith - WSL / Kelly Cestari

For Smith, his Pipe habit might be a case of better late than never. For despite the South African's huge influence and success in the sport, his best result at Pipeline is a third place achieved in 2018. It's a glaring hole in his glittering CV and why despite going into Pipe with a chance of a World Title numerous times, he's never won surfing's ultimate prize.

Now 32 and about to start his 13th year on the CT Smith has however made significant steps in addressing one of the barriers to his lifelong goal. In 2017 he purchased a house on the North Shore. It was both an investment in some bricks and mortar, and his surfing career.

"Time in the lineup is everything really," Smith told the WSL. "In the past, I've been out of my element and did not know where to sit, which makes it hard to pick the right waves. I'm more relaxed out there now and I have a much better read on the line and the speed of the wave, which is everything."

Jordy Smith - 8.5
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Jordy Smith - 8.5

There are no shortcuts at Pipeline, and the only way to enjoying any type of competitive success at the wave is achieved through time in the line-up. His talent and commitment were never an issue, but as he spent entire winters on the North Shore, he began to be able to express them at Pipe and Backdoor.

"I've been watching all the freesurf sessions over the last 10 days and only half of the CT guys have been out there," Shane Dorian said in 2018, as Jordy achieved his best result at Pipe. "The guys that were surfing, and Jordy was one of the standouts, have all done well. He has improved dramatically in the last few seasons."

Smith has continued that form since. As Pipe enjoyed perhaps its best late season in 2020, it was Jordy who was invariably on some of the biggest, and best sets of those epic April sessions. That would have been unthinkable just a few seasons ago.

However, a lot has happened since those sweet spring days. Jordy and his wife Lyndall returned to South Africa for the Southern Hemisphere winter. After dealing with the quarantine, and then enjoying one of the best South Africans winters in history, they also welcomed their first child, Ziggy Ray, into the world in early November.

So just getting to Pipe, En famille, will be no small achievement. Yet even with a newborn and Covid affecting his preparation, Jordy knows he has already done his time at Pipeline. With no World Title distractions and a fresh start, he must be considered maybe for the first time, a contender.

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