Billabong Pro WCT (July 12 – 22)
As pristine waves of around 1 to 1.2 metres (3 to 4 feet) pulsed through “Supertubes at Jeffreys Bay, the top three seeds for the Billabong Pro — Kelly Slater, (USA) Andy Irons (HAW) and Joel Parkinson (AUS) — blatantly stated that they want this title.
So spectacular were their individual assaults on the long, reeling green walls of J-Bay many were claiming it was some of the best surfing seen on the 2005 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour to date.
Parkinson (AUS) posted a massive 18.57 out of a possible 20, while Slater (USA) recorded a total of 17.9 and Irons (HAW) a total of 17.00.
Surfing with amazing flow while looking so relaxed he should be asleep, Parkinson completely smashed opponents Sean Holmes (ZAF) and Tom Whittaker (AUS) with a series of deep barrels, massive frontside gouges and tailslides.
“I felt good… I can’t tell you what was going through my mind, said Parkinson when asked what he was thinking when he destroyed his first wave of the heat to score a 9.57 out of 10. “It’s such a long and fast wave you don’t know what goes on in your head. You do one turn and you’re stoked to make it, or you come out of a little barrel — you just get straight back into it after each turn.
When asked if he was up to the task of maintaining form in order to score another Billabong Pro title (as he did six seasons ago in1999) Parkinson indicated that he was taking a wary approach.
“It’s just so good to finally have a heat in a right hander, he continued. “But it’s only the first heat and both Andy and Kelly put in unbelievable performances too so from here on in you just have to keep on it otherwise it could be a different story.
Slater meanwhile showed from his opening wave that he has the form and focus to go all the way to claim his second Billabong Pro title (his first was in 2003).
Looking like he was “playing in the lightly offshore-fanned J-Bay swells, Slater threw caution to the wind on every wave mixing it up with hard-edge rail-turns and deep tube riding similar to that of Parkinson.
Fending off an aerial assault from Bruce Irons (HAW) and pinning back the enthusiasm of wildcard Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF), Slater was feeling comfortable and even revealed his secrets for winning on the famed right hand wave.
“I got a new board, said Slater like a frothing grommet. “I surfed it on about eight or 10 waves and I knew it was perfect for out there. You have to think a little differently out there because generally when you get a wave with a lip on it you want to hit it but on this wave you want to get away from the lip, get out on the open face and do some good S-turns because most guys are getting stuck in the pocket. That’s a little secret! Get out on the open face and do your thing! It just looks better and you can throw more spray.
Defending champion and current Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champ, Irons looked highly confident as he blasted his tail out in the pocket on numerous occasions to defeat wildcard Shaun Payne (ZAF) and Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) but he’s also aware that he will have to lift to beat the likes of Slater and Parkinson.
“I started off with an eight and that warmed me up for the rest of the heat, said Irons. “I then got that 8.83 and from there I just had fun. I’m stoked to be here. I’m a regular footer so I’m on my front side, which is a bit of a treat. There’s been some shaky times here — some peaks and troughs — but now I’m just looking to surf some good waves. I’m definitely going to have to lift to beat Kelly and the like. Last year I had a little bit of luck, I had really good boards and I came on right when I needed to. This year’s been a little bit different but hopefully I can get on a roll.
The upset of the day came from pint-sized upstart Bernado Miranda (BRA) who strung together some searingg turns in the earlier side-chopped conditions to defeat 5th seed, Trent Munro and legend, 1999 Foster’s ASP world champion Mark Occhilupo.
“I’m very stoked! said Miranda who was admitted into the event as a replacement for late withdrawal Shane Beschen (USA). (Beschen withdrew as his partner gave birth to a baby boy four days ago.) “It is my second visit to Jeffreys Bay but on my first time I just watched the contest. I’m stoked to be at a great place with the best surfers in the world. I’m trying to learn, as everything is new to me. There’s not too much pressure on me and I’m just learning how to ride all the waves at the different locations as I go. To beat Occy, whoa! He’s a legend! An incredible surfer! I’m stoked.
With the forecasters predicting that the current swell may only “hang around for the next day or two organisers will be eager to make the most of the waves on offer while they last.
They will be assessing conditions at 7am (local time) tomorrow with the hope of forging on with round two.
The event takes a total of four days to run but has a waiting period up until July 22.
Results round one:
Heat 1: Tim Reyes (USA) 15.67, def Troy Brooks (AUS) 12.67, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.00
Heat 2: Mick Lowe (AUS) 11.34 def Cory Lopez (USA) 7.94, Kirk Flintoff (AUS) 5.84
Heat 3: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.90 def Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.44, Toby Martin (AUS) 13.23
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.00; def Richard Lovett (AUS) 13.57, Renan Rocha (BRA) 8.44
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.03 def Chris Ward (USA) 10.14, Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 8.83
Heat 6: Bernado Miranda (BRA) 15.27 def Trent Munro (AUS) 13.90, Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 12.77
Heat 7: Jake Paterson (AUS) 14.66; def CJ Hobgood (USA) 13.17, Ian Walsh (HAW) 9.00
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.90 def Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.23, Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 13.06
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 17.00 def Shaun Payne (ZAF) 12.17, Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 8.50
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.57 def Sean Holmes (ZAF) 10.33, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 8.67
Heat 11: Luke Stedman (AUS) 14.10 def Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 9.00, Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 6.76
Heat 12: Danny Wills (AUS) 15.87 def Shea Lopez (USA) 13.67, Taylor Knox (USA) 12.67
Heat 13: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.34 def Paulo Moura (BRA) 10.84, Luke Egan (AUS) 10.46