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Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag Facing Different Challenges at Trestles

September 5th, 2015
Jordy Smith demonstrates the form that saw him win his fourth elite tour event title in the Hurley Pro at Trestles in 2014 Photo: WSL / Kirstin

Jordy Smith demonstrates the form that saw him win his fourth elite tour event title in the Hurley Pro at Trestles in 2014 Photo: WSL / Kirstin

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 5 September 2015

By Paul Botha

Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag, South Africa’s representatives on the World Surf League Men’s and Women’s Championship Tour, face very different challenges when the next stop kicks off at Lower Trestles in California on Wednesday.

Smith’s trademark powerful carves and futuristic fins-free manoeuvres are tailor-made for the high performance waves that run down the iconic cobblestone point near his new home in San Clemente. He goes into the event as the defending champion, having demolished all and sundry on his way to the 2014 final, where he narrowly outpointed John John Florence, of Hawaii, with a last minute ride to claim his fourth elite tour event title.

However, foot, knee and back injuries have blighted Smith’s 2015 season. Ranked fifth after the first two events, he injured his foot in the third event at Margaret River and has not won a heat since, injuring a knee at Rio de Janeiro and then his back in his comeback at Jeffreys Bay.

The Durbanite has slipped to No 23 on the rankings and in his opening heat will face current world No. 2 Mick Fanning, of Australia, and dark-horse Hiroto Ohhara, of Japan, the winner of the US Open and the wildcard trials. Smith will continue to draw the top seeded surfers throughout the event and his huge global fan base will hoping that his undoubted skills and proven competitive temperament will result in a successful comeback at the Hurley Pro at Trestles.

Buitendag, on the other hand, goes into the Swatch Women’s Pro ranked fourth in the world and chasing the world title after a stellar third year competing at the highest echelons of women’s surfing. The lanky South African is just over 10 000 points behind the top two, Courtney Conlogue, of California, and Hawaiian reigning world champion Carissa Moore; and only 5 000 behind No. 3 Sally Fitzgibbons, of Australia.

Having grown up and honed her surfing skills at the right-hand point break of Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape, Buitendag’s repertoire is well suited to Trestles and she reached the quarterfinals last year. She is also due an event win having reached four finals, two this year, and finished runner-up each time.

Bianca Buitendag reached the quarterfinals of the Swatch Women’s Pro at Trestles last year Photo: WSL / Rowland

Bianca Buitendag reached the quarterfinals of the Swatch Women’s Pro at Trestles last year Photo: WSL / Rowland

A strong swell is predicted for opening days of the waiting period and all the action at Trestles can be watched live at worldsurfleague.com with the day’s action getting underway at around 5 pm South African time daily.

Beyrick de Vries, of uMhlanga, can lay claim to being the country’s top competitive surfer (besides Jordy Smith of course) after winning the final event and being crowned the series champion in the Quiksilver Get Free Series which was wrapped up in excellent waves at Port Alfred last weekend.

De Vries, who at No. 35 is also the highest ranked South African on the WSL Qualifying Series, included a perfect 10 point ride in his tally as he defeated former nine-year Championship Tour campaigner Greg Emslie, of East London; Michael February, of Kommetjie; and Durbanite Josh Smit who finished in that order in the final.

ENDS

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