Is it me or is the Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay event the most anticipated on tour every year? Maybe it has got something to do with following the average beachbreaks of Brazil, or maybe the tour hiatus that happens before the event, or maybe it is just the fact that Jeffrey’s Bay is one of the most incredible righthanders on tour (and the planet).
It really is a no bullshit event. The surf is almost always pumping at least one day of the waiting period, there's none of the circus of the more urban events, the wave itself is one of the hardest to surf well, and guys are put to the test all in thick wetsuits and booties (with Great Whites looming the lineups even).
This year Brazilian Adriano De Souza heads to South Africa with the ratings lead and a massive amount of momentum from the victory in his home country of Brazil. But he also just injured his knee in the Maldives. Anything that slows you down at J-Bay is definitely a disadvantage. Plus, Adriano has never gotten past the quarters at J-Bay.
Which means the likes of Parko, Kelly, Jordy, and Taj know the importance of big performances at Jeffrey’s, all who have tasted victory in South Africa. More than anyone though this is Jordy Smith's title to lose. Last year was a coming of age victory for the young South African, catapulting him right into a World Title race with Slater. After two 3rds and a 13th this year, J-Bay is the perfect time for Jordy to make another statement. And as always, never forget about Kelly (especially at J-Bay). Plus if Parko and/or Taj are to make serious Title runs this year, now would be a good time to get a solid lead going.
For all the likes of the Title race really picking up steam in South Africa there's one man we've all been waiting to see surf on tour this year, and that is Dane Reynolds. He will be making his return from knee injury at Jeffrey’s Bay, and we couldn't think of a better wave to see him light up in.
And really all of the tour tends to light up (barring the majority of goofyfooters) at Jeffrey’s Bay, which is one reason we love the event so much. Leading us to ask, which goofyfooters will have success this year? They usually consist of Bobby Martinez, Kai Otton, and the Hobgoods. But let us not forget about Owen Wright and Slater's acclaimed "best backhand surfer on tour" Matt Wilkinson. Surely one of these two pups will fair well after the summer break the tour just had. And with J-Bay being in a good pattern now, expect the boys to be chomping at the bit for a piece of the world's greatest righthander.—Ryan Brower
The Billabong Pro Jeffrey’s Bay runs from July 15-25 and can be seen live at billabongpro.com/jbay11.
Betting Odds From Sportsbet Australia
Jordy Smith 4.5 to 1
Joel Parkinson 5.5 to 1
Kelly Slater 6 to 1
Mick Fanning 7 to 1
Taj Burrow 8 to 1
Adriano De Souza 16 to 1
Chris Cote, Editor In Chief
Winner: Slater is always an easy pick, especially at J-Bay. But it's been a long break since Brazil, and the top dogs are going to be fired up! Slater will no doubt make at least the semis, Jordy Smith will be a top contender as well. But at the end of the event, Taylor Knox will get the win—Captain America! Come on Taylor!
Rookie/wildcard: Julian Wilson will slay this contest. I'll bet anyone $ that he makes at least the quarters.
Who will rip: I think this is the year of the backsiders. Guys like Freddy P, Kai Otton, Bobby Martinez, Owen, etc. While a backsider probably won't win, the right-foot forward crew will take some scalps.
Who will slip: Noone will slip, everyone will rip. Positive South African vibrations!
Conditions: Epic 6 to 8 foot J Bay, tubes, mean hacks, its' gonna be the comp of the year.
Casey Koteen, Managing Editor
Winner: Parko. With Adriano now nursing a wounded knee, Parko can smell the blood.
Rookie/wildcard: Alejo Muniz will continue his stranglehold on the rookie of the year nod.
Who will rip: Slater will rip obviously, and if Parko doesn't make the final, expect Slater to take the cake. Pat Gudang should have some good heats, too.
Who will slip: Young backsiders used to onshore wind will struggle.
Conditions: It's been active down there, expect at least one day of big, icy, J-Bay walls.
Aaron Checkwood, Photo Editor
Winner: Jordy. Result wise, it's been a strange three comps so far and it would only make sense to have a different winner, which would make for an exciting year. Gotta go with the home field advantage.
Rookie/wildcard: Alejo. Sorry, but I'm on the Alejo bandwagon still and J-Bay is a good wave that fits like a well-tailored suit.
Who will rip: Parko. If Jordy doesn't win Parko will simply because he never fails there.
Who will slip: Goofyfoots. They get through heats, but it seems like a tough nut to crack if your right foot is on the front of the board.
Conditions: So sick bru!
Justin Cote, Online Editor
Winner: Adriano De Souza. I expect big turns—and even bigger claims—from the little guy. Hate on haters (yeah, I used to be one of you).
Rookie/wildcard: After his win in Europe I expect to see big things out of Julian Wilson.
Who will rip: Both Dane Reynolds and Freddy P are back. I expect them to blow up on the big J-Bay walls.
Who will slip: Whoever tries to do airs is in for a tough time at J-Bay.
Conditions: 6-8 foot and offshore with a chance of Great White.
Ryan Brower, Staff Writer
Winner: It's really hard not to go with Jordy. The man will not give up that J-Bay title that easily.
Rookie/wildcard: Shaun Holmes. One of these years he's going to actually end up winning the event, and it may just be this year. At the least he'll be taking a few World Tour elite scalps.
Who will rip: Parko and Taj if they want to be serious contenders in this year's World Title race.
Who will slip: Adriano De Souza. His World Title Race lead will be gone after a few rounds at Jeffrey’s Bay, a place where he really hasn't had all that much success.
Conditions: Cold and howling offshores, just the way the long walls and insane barrels of Jeffrey’s should be.