SA’s Sean Holmes eliminates World No. 1 Kelly Slater from Billabong Pro J-Bay
South African wildcard Sean Holmes added another scalp to his storied list of giant-killing acts at the Billabong Pro J-Bay when he eliminated current World No. 1 and 9 x ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) from the event in a massive result that has reverberated throughout the ASP World Tour.
Holmes, competing with a back injury incurred on Day 1 of the event that has required extensive physiotherapy and pain-killing injections, waited patiently for the best waves during the 30-minute Round 3 clash before scoring the narrowest of victories over the former four-time J-Bay champion, securing his place in the last 16 by just four-hundredths of a point – 13.10 vs. 13.06 – out of a possible 20.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot of pain in my lower back and am very stiff so I entered the heat knowing that I was going to have to surf smart,” Holmes, 32, from Cape Town explained. “I focused on getting the biggest waves I could and applying as much power as I could.”
“Kelly (Slater) and I have surfed once before out here when it was a bit smaller and he got me by taking off on a lot of insiders. There wasn’t as much opportunity out there today so being selective played a big role.”
Both surfers rode waves in the final minute and Slater, needing just 5.51 to snatch victory, produced a potentially heat-winning ride of 7.23. The judges kept the packed beach on tenterhooks for two minutes after the heat-ending siren had sounded before awarding Holmes 5.77 points and a berth in Round 4 to a roar of patriotic elation.
In his next clash Holmes takes on former 3 x ASP World Champion Andy Irons in a continuation of their long-standing rivalry in which the South African holds the upper-hand with two victories to the Hawaiian’s one.
“Andy (Irons) and I are great friends now so any rivalry that we may have had I don’t think exists anymore,” Holmes commented on his next encounter. “He’s a fantastic surfer and I don’t think he even thinks about who he has in a heat. He just goes out there and does his thing. It will be a fun heat.”
The result has sent shock-waves through the 2010 ASP World Title Race as Slater’s early exit at J-Bay opens the door for a number of the top contenders to take over the No. 1 ranking after this event. The biggest beneficiary could be SA’s Jordy Smith who came into the event ranked No. 2, but the likes of Taj Burrow, fellow Australian and reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning, Bobby Martinez (USA) and the rest of the top 10 will be eyeing the opportunity to improve their standings with a good result here.
Slater, who only arrived in Jeffreys Bay at 10am on the opening day of the event on Thursday after a 40 hour, weather delayed trip from the USA, was complimentary of Holmes’ performance and philosophical about the defeat and the rest of the year.
“I never felt in sync here this year,” Slater said. “I’ve been tired ever since I arrived. I’ve been going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 1am. I’ve been up today for 8 hours already. That said, Sean is always in sync out here at Jeffreys. He knows the spot really well and is always on the best waves.”
“It’s a long year ahead. I think I entered this event two or three heats ahead of Jordy (Smith) and if he wins this event, he’ll be two or three heats ahead of me. So I’ve got a month to think about it before the next one. I’ll go home, recharge and focus on Tahiti.”
For the third consecutive day, the Billabong Pro J-Bay started at 7.30am in clean offshore winds. However today’s small one metre waves come from an unusual ESE direction generated by a weather system in the Indian Ocean below Madagascar, forcing the competitors to start their rides halfway down the famed Supertubes point. The predicted new swell from the traditional SSW direction has started to appear and organisers expect the waves to rise to overhead through the day and have scheduled completing Round 3 and at least the first four heats of Round 4 before nightfall.
All the action from the Billabong Pro J-Bay can be viewed live at www.billabongpro.com and also on your mobile phone at www.asptogo.com or download the iPhone application ASP ToGo from www.apple/iphone/. The “video on demand” and ground-breaking “waves on demand” facilities enable every wave surfed in the event to be re-played. Live and highlights footage is available on the channels of Fuel TV (on Top TV in South Africa).
The 2010 Billabong Pro J-Bay has a waiting period that runs from 15-25 July and is proudly supported by Eastern Cape Tourism, Virgin Atlantic, Monster Energy, Vida e Caffe, Corona and Tavcor
Billabong Pro J-Bay 2010
Round 3 Results: (Winner to R4; Loser eliminated in equal 17th place; 1 750 pts; US $6 500)
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.33 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 8.50
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.80 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 3.97
Heat 7: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.33 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 9.43
Heat 8: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.10 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.06
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.93 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 10.64
Heat 10: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.60 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 13.80
Heat 11: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.23 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 12.50
Remaining Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 14: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 15: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 16: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Issued on behalf of:
Billabong South Africa
Contact: Brendon Kegel
Telephone: +27 (0) 42 200 2747
Compiled and issued by:
Life’s a Beach Communications
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