Jeffreys Bay, South Africa – A day filled with upsets couldn’t lead to a very good birthday for Andy Irons.
Especially since he is currently the WCT points leader.
On a day the Kauaian turned 24, Irons was upset by local wildcard Sean Holmes, who continued his giant killing run in the Billabong Pro, a $250,000 tour event which recommenced at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa Wednesday following a six day wait.
Holmes, who beat current #2 Cory Lopez in round two, went one better yesterday by outscoring Irons in stellar form. On his second ride the South African slotted in and out of two deep tubes, posting a near-perfect score of 9.8 points, and supported this on his last ride with another 8.0 for the convincing win.
“I stalled too much and the waves were going quick,” said Irons, of his tube riding tactics. “I heard him get a 9.8 so I knew I needed a big score. He’s definitely one of the best surfers I’ve seen surfing out here and I hope he wins it.”
Another top rated surfer and Kauaian, Sunny Garcia, fell in the melee of upset city, which claimed six of the world’s top 10 surfers. #24 Lee Winkler created a career highlight by eliminating Garcia. The Australian surfed a patient heat only riding three waves, but secured eight plus points on two. Garcia posted the best single score for an 8.75, but required another worth 7.76 points.
Nonetheless, the Hawaiian leaves Jeffreys Bay with more fans after he donated his cash prize from Tuesday’s MSF expression session and also gave his six-board quiver to the local underprivileged kids in the ‘Development Surfing Schools.’
Other upsets: Former world #2 Taj Burrow (Aus) dominated the Billabong Pro with two commanding performances. Burrow, 24, won his highly anticipated clash with six-time world champ Kelly Slater (USA), and then dominated the day’s final heat over current #3 Shea Lopez (USA).
Current #46 Phil MacDonald (Aus) improved his standing by eliminating reigning world champ CJ Hobgood (USA). Hobgood, currently rated fifth, conceded his waves let him down and reasoned it’s symbolic of his year in general.
Current #35 Fabio Gouveia (Brz) continued the upsets, stopping #4 Luke Egan (Aus). The Brazilian will now face 1999 Billabong Pro winner and current #7 Joel Parkinson (Aus), who eliminated Shane Dorian (Haw) Wednesday.
Current #17 Kieren Perrow ended the dream of defending two-time consecutive Billabong Pro champ and fellow Australian Jake Paterson. Both only caught two rides in the wave starved heat, with Perrow’s proving superior.
Mick Fanning (Aus) was another to post two big wins, eliminating current #14 Damien Hobgood (USA) and current #9 Kalani Robb (Haw).
Australians Dean Morrison and Shane Powell surfed arguably the best heat of the day; exchanging amazing barrel rides in classic J-Bay conditions. Powell fell on a wave toward the end and it appeared his fate was sealed, but then another wave appeared and he was able to thread his way through the eye of numerous tubes for an 8.1 to advance.
1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo dominated his clash with fellow Australian Luke Hitchings