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Spectacular Surfing By Planet’s Premier Performers

July 11th, 2015
Dangerous wildcard Dane Reynolds from California upset World No. 2 Filipe Toledo from Brazil with spectacular surfing at Jeffreys Bay on Friday  Photo: WSL / Cestari

Dangerous wildcard Dane Reynolds from California upset World No. 2 Filipe Toledo from Brazil with spectacular surfing at Jeffreys Bay on Friday Photo: WSL / Cestari

Surfing Column for Independent on Saturday – 11 July 2015

By Paul Botha

The local surfing community and hundreds of thousands of followers online are being treated to spectacular surfing by the planet’s premier performers in the battle for points and prize-money on the lucrative South African leg of the World Surf League.

Starting with the Ballito Pro, where Michael Rodrigues posted a rare perfect 10-point ride before fellow Brazilians Italo Ferreira, Caio Ibelli and Alejo Muniz racked up a slew of high-flying manoeuvres in the pristine final day conditions, and continued in Jeffreys Bay where the J-Bay Open commenced yesterday.

For the record, Muniz took the win at Ballito, pocketing the R500 000 winner’s payout and shooting to a substantial lead on the Qualifying Series leaderboard thanks to his haul of 10 000 points. This virtually ensures him a spot among the Top 34 surfers who will contest the 2016 Championship Tour, the elite series of events that determine the annual world surfing champion.

In Jeffreys Bay, the sixth of 11 stops on this year’s CT, the world’s best displayed their prowess in testing conditions on the opening day of competition. Despite a 12 day holding period in which to run the four days of heats required to decide the winner, the wave and weather predictions have been blighted by summer-like conditions with Easterly onshore winds replacing the customary Westerly winds that prevail in the winter months.

With a solid overhead swell steaming down the fabled 300 metre dune lined point known as Supertubes, WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow had no hesitation in sending the surfers to work even though onshore winds were forecast.

And those watching were certainly not disappointed as the likes of Tahiti’s Michel Bourez, Australian Julian Wilson and dangerous wildcard, Dane Reynolds from California sliced, diced and carved up the long liquid walls, boosting themselves above the lip of the waves and landing in full control to post heat winning totals.

The unfavourable wind became stronger but the bumpy wave faces did not deter defending event champion Mick Fanning from Australia whose trademark high-speed manoeuvring took him to victory.

The legendary Kelly Slater, a four-time J-Bay event winner, was in his element. The Floridian took to the air on one ride and then somehow found a tube section on another to record two of the highest scores of the day’s action, along with the highest heat tally.

The South African contingent in the event will all need to contest sudden-death elimination heats in Round 2 when competition resumes. Capetonian Michael February, a last minute replacement for the injured Australian Matt Banting, finishing second behind Fanning in his first foray at the highest level of the sport.

Slade Prestwich from Scottburgh, winner of the JBU Supertrials, finishing third in his encounter and Durban’s Jordy Smith also placed third after an uncharacteristically low scoring performance that saw the current World No. 18 head directly to the medical facilities after his heat for treatment on a back spasm.

The holding period for the J-Bay Open runs until 19 July and the event can be watched live at worldsurfleague.com.


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