Competitors Tough It Out On Day Two Of The Billabong Pro
In glass smooth 1 metre (3 foot) waves and beaming sun the god of surf “Huey played his hand in many of the results of the day’s play at the Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa — the sixth event on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour.
While the hordes of spectators on the beach and on the live webcast were treated to exceptional wave riding all day, competitors were heavily reliant on wave selection and tactics as the consistency and time between “set waves (larger waves which arrive in sets of two or three) dragged out due to the predicted abating of the swell.
Helping and unhinging both well-established tourers and up-and-comers alike it was difficult for surfers to score two quality rides in order to progress through the sudden death heats and into round three.
In the most intensely anticipated match-up of the day, heat 12 between Mark Occhilupo (AUS) and Kalani Rob (HAW), “Huey was the dominant force, sending Occhilupo a couple of solid waves where he displayed his renowned “Raging Bull backhand attack consisting of body-torqueing turns from the base of the waves followed by razor sharp vertical blasts through the top.
The sentimental favourite, “Occy was extremely happy to avoid the disappointment of going out of the event early as Jeffreys Bay is one of his favourite locations and this potentially could be his last throw of the dice here due to his impending retirement.
His victory came despite him breaking his own game plan.
“It was really tough out there, especially surfing against Kalani, said Occy. “I made a mistake early when I got the inside and I told myself I was going to wait. Then the first wave came past, I took it and it was no good. Kalani got a couple of mediocre waves and it was back in my hands. I had to wait and luckily a good wave came and peeled off perfectly and I got an 8.67. I then backed it up with a 6.5.
Occy has a special affinity with J-Bay — he actually named his son Jay after the location — yet today it was almost a love hate affair.
“This is one of my favourite spots on tour, he went on. “But we just need to add one ingredient… the surf because it’s hard when it’s inconsistent like today. We’re all just crossing our fingers for an all time swell so hopefully it’ll happen. J-Bay can be temperamental and you need a lot of waves to fill it in.
In the first heat of the day, former 2001 Foster’s ASP World Tour champion CJ Hobgood (USA) fell victim to wildcard South African, Damien Fahrenfort when he only managed to lock in two medium-score rides.
Meanwhile an unintimidated Fahrenfort launched into the waves that he was provided with and executed an array of powerful bottom to top turns, which left Hobgood stunned and the vocal crowd baying his praises.
Fahrenfort was obviously buzzing with his win over such an illustrious opponent.
“It was such a fluke result today, he said. “Nine times out of 10 it wouldn’t have happened but it happened in my home country so it’s beyond incredible. I paddled out there knowing I had nothing to lose. Normally the guys I surf against in South Africa are my good friends so I know how they surf but to surf against CJ was more of an honour than anything else.
And on his round three match-up against six-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champ, Kelly Slater (USA) he was hoping for a better result than his first round encounter.
“I’ve got Slater in my next heat again, hopefully this time I won’t get combo’d (needing two good scores to catch up) so badly! (laughs) I surfed against him in the first round and he left me combo’d right from the start. My goal is not to let that happen again!
In one of the most unusual situations of the day, the ever-smiling yet ever-competitive Raoni Monteiro (BRA) blitzed his heat againstt Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) yet he only caught the minimum requirement of two waves.
His score combined to be one of the top overall scores of the event — a 17.83.
On his amazing 9.83 (out of 10, the highest score of the event to date) ride where he slid inside a mirror-like tube for about three seconds then lined up a host powerful front-side hits through the final section of the wave, he was elated.
“I didn’t realize what happened! laughed Monteiro. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a heat like that. It was great and I’m just stoked. I only got two waves — the first an 8.0 and the second 9.83 — so it was perfect. I feel really good. I didn’t realise that when I paddled into that 9.83 that it would be so good. I got a barrel and I just waited for the good spots for the good turns and they give me a 9.83!
And on his round three match-up with Nathan Hedge…
“I want stay focused and smash it! he bellowed again with a grin from ear to ear.
Cory Lopez (USA) was another who was lucky to jag a solid wave that enabled him to scramble into the next round.
Going to town on his backside (standing right foot forward) Lopez’s low drawn-out bottoms and hooking top turns were just what the judges were looking for. On his best wave he scored a highly admirable 9.0.
He was also very happy to claim a win over wildcard South African Sean Holmes, who, in previous years, has been a thorn in some of the big name’s sides.
“Yeah Sean is a really good surfer especially out here, said Lopez. “He’s always been Andy’s (Irons) arch nemesis. I was a little stressed out about having him. I was glad to get that first wave (a 9.0) and although I started off good, the waves kinda slowed down a bit and it was tough to get a second one. It was tight finish so luckily it worked in my favour. It’s really fast out there and can be hard on your backhand. But you get the good waves and you’ll win.
The most dramatically wave-starved heat of the day, one of the lowest scoring heats of all time, saw Australian Richard Lovett defeat Brazilian Paulo Moura by just 0.20 points to advance into round three.
Playing the patience game, Lovett waited 26 minutes before putting his first ride on the scoreboard, posting a 5.0 out of 10.00. Jostling for priority and scouring the line-up for any potential lumps (of swell), it came down to miniscule 1.0 plus rides in the nail biting final seconds to determine Lovett’s win in what he described as one of the most frustrating heats of his career.
“At the end of that heat I didn’t think I’d lost but I was so frustrated, he said. “You sit and watch amazing waves come through all day and you want have your turn. Getting through that heat was a mixture of emotions. I was stoked but frustrated. It was like winning at the casino! But it’s Mother Nature. I’ve never had a heat like that and hopefully I won’t have another one!
Results Billabong Pro Round Two:
Heat 1: Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 12.50 def CJ Hobgood (USA)
Heat 2: Trent Munro (AUS) 14.33 def Shaun Payne (ZAF) 12.47
Heat 3: Cory Lopez (USA) 16.33 def Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.83
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.34 def Ian Walsh (HAW) 11.66
Heat 5: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 16.83 def Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 12.00
Heat 6: Luke Egan (AUS) 12.34 def Renan Rocha (BRA) 10.17
Heat 7: Toby Martin (AUS) 15.67 def Peterson Rosa (BRA) 11.50
Heat 8: Dean Morrison (AUS) 14.33 def Kirk Flintoff (AUS) 9.33
Heat 9: Bruce Irons (HAW) 11.66 def Shea Lopez (USA) 10.83
Heat 10: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 17.83 def Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 5.57
Heat 11: Tom Whittaker (AUS) 13.23 def Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.33
Heat 12: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 15.17 def Kalani Robb (HAW) 12.67
Heat 13: Neco Padaratz (BRA) 13.34 def Chris Ward (USA) 10.34
Heat 14: Richard Lovett (AUS) 6.80 def Paulo Moura (BRA) 6.60
Heat 15: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.33 def Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.23
Heat 16: Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 14.66 def Troy Brooks (AUS) 14.50