– 3 x WSL Champion Takes Record Equaling 4th Win at Jeffreys Bay
– Runner-up John John Florence Moves to 2nd Place on WSL Jeep Leaderboard
JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Saturday 16 July, 2016) – Mick Fanning (AUS) produced a fairytale finish by winning the J-Bay Open, Stop No. 6 on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), on his return to Jeffreys Bay a year after encountering a shark in the highly publicised 2015 final.
Fanning defeated John John Florence (HAW) in a tense 35 minute final held in clean 1m to 1.3 metre (3 to 4 foot) waves in front of a packed audience lining the beach and the amphitheatre created by the dunes overlooking Supertubes.
“It’s definitely a very different feeling this win,” said Fanning. “There was a real emotional build up coming back here this year. I’m stoked that I got to come back and right the wrongs that happened last year. I’ve done that now so I can move on.”
Today’s win is Fanning’s 22nd Championship Tour victory and his fourth at the J-Bay Open, equaling Kelly Slater’s record of event wins at Jeffreys Bay. Fanning defeated Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) en route to the Final today.
“That Semifinal with Julian was really special and it was wonderful to have a heat with him again. Definitely some emotions went into it paddling out and it was just really special having a surf with him out there and both of us coming in safe.”
Fanning, who is taking a personal year in 2016, only competing in select events this season, leaps up from 16th to 5th place on the WSL Jeep Leaderboard.
“It’s awesome to be in 5th place but I don’t really care about results this year,” said Fanning. “I just want to thank everyone who has supported me over the past year, I’ve had so much support, and I’m looking forward to celebrating. For me this year feels a lot lighter not going for a world title so I’m really enjoying my surfing and having a lot of fun. I’ll be surfing at Trestles and I think that might be my last event of the year. World titles aren’t the biggest thing for me at the moment – I’m all about enjoying my surfing.”
Today’s runner-up finish for Florence sees him move up to second place on the Jeep Leaderboard for the first time in his career and close the gap on ratings leader Matt Wilkinson (AUS) heading into the next event on the CT, the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Florence, who was absent from the J-Bay Open in 2015 due to an ankle injury, defeated local favourite Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the Quarterfinals and Josh Kerr (AUS) in the Semifinals before facing Fanning in the Final and earning his best ever result at Jeffreys Bay.
“I’m really stoked to be back here this year and to be in the Final surfing against Mick,” Florence said. “I wasn’t here last here when everything went down so just to see Mick win it is pretty inspiring coming back after that.”
Josh Kerr (AUS) took on runner-up Florence in the opening Semifinal match-up and both surfers took to the air. Florence took the lead and although Kerr got to his feet before the final buzzer, he didn’t get the score required. Today’s result is Kerr’s best of the season and also his best ever at Jeffreys Bay. Kerr leaps up ten places to 17th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I’ve really enjoyed the event and it’s been a good result for me,” Kerr said. “Tahiti coming up is one of my favorite locations so I’m looking forward to that.”
A rematch of last year’s dramatic final between Fanning and compatriot Julian Wilson (AUS) played out in the second Semifinal bout. Both surfers opened strong but it was Wilson who had the edge. A strategic and selective Fanning used his priority to best advantage to take the wave of the heat and unleash his typical speed and power, posting a decisive 9.10 to win the heat. Wilson goes home in third place and moves to 9th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“It’s a great result for me,” said Wilson. “It’s really got my year back on track. I’m so pleased I got have that Semifinal with Mick. I just wish I could have found an opportunity and the right wave to have a real chance at winning.”
11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) was defeated in the Quarterfinals by Kerr, finishing the event in 5th place and moving from 26th to 19th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I got here about 5 minutes later than I wanted to be this morning,” Slater said. “I was trying to turn it around during the heat but I wasn’t as patient as I could have been. It really came down to priority in the end and I didn’t quite get the score I needed.”
2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) was eliminated in 5th place by Wilson in Quarterfinal 3 and drops down one place to third on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“Everyone is hard to beat and everyone wants to win,” said Medina. “John John and Filipe, all these guys want to win. I’m lucky I got my first title just two years ago. Hopefully we can all keep battling — that’s what makes it exciting. It’s good to see John and Wilko doing well because I think it will be really exciting at the end of the year.”
Filipe Toledo (BRA) battled Fanning in a thrilling and high scoring Quarterfinal duel in which the lead changed hands several time before Fanning wrapped up the win with a 9.27 and an 8.37. The Brazilian was given an opportunity in the final minute but fell on his last manoeuvre and leaves the event in 5th place, his best ever result at the J-Bay Open, and moves to 13th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“Definitely it’s a really good result for me,” said Toledo. “I’m really happy to make a really good heat against Mick. It’s always exciting to surf against him. Now I’m just training harder, looking forward and looking for good results.”
Highlights from the J-Bay Open are available at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.
The next stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Vans US Open of Surfing, which will see the world’s best female surfers resume this season’s title race from July 25 – 31.
J-Bay Open Final Results:
1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.70
2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.13
J-Bay Open Semifinal Results:
SF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 16.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.43
SF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.10 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.17
J-Bay Open Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 10.70 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.50
QF 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.94 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.97
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.33 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.93
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.64 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.40
WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (after J-Bay Open):
1. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 34,250 pts
2. John John Florence (HAW) 31,900 pts
3. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 29,200 pts
4. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 24,400 pts
5. Mick Fanning (AUS) 23,450 pts
7. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 21,200 pts
NOTE: High resolution images will be available for media outlets
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.
Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.
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