Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023 |
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LIHU‘E — The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, stop No. 4 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, is poised to be one for the ages as some of the world’s best surfing talent prepares to do battle on one of the world’s greatest canvases, the iconic righthanders of Jeffreys Bay, states a release from the ASP.
After three events this season, the ASP World Tour journeys to South Africa amidst a red-hot ASP World Title race as well as the cutthroat, mid-year field reduction to the ASP Top 32.
Australia’s Mick Fanning, 29, reigning ASP World Champion, has had an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, collecting two 9ths and a runner-up, putting him in the ASP World No. 4 spot. A former two-time winner of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (2002, 2006), Fanning will look to regain some magic in South Africa in order to rein in former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1 Kelly Slater, 38.
“This time last year, I was in fourth position so it’s early days,” Fanning said. “I’ll approach the remainder of the year as if the race is still wide open, which it is. Kelly’s had two solid results so hopefully I can narrow the gap with a strong finish at J-Bay.”
The big concern for all the top seeds at Jeffreys is a lethal crop of rookies intensified by the threat of a mid-year cutoff. Following the fifth event of the season, the ASP Top 45 will be reduced to the Top 32 and Jeffreys is one of the last opportunities for surfers to vault themselves inside the bubble.
“There’s definitely been a more aggressive approach from the lower seeds this year and you can’t go into any heat holding back.” Fanning said. “With the cut off approaching I’d say we’re going to see even more desperation and intensity from those outside the Top 32. It’s going to be a challenge but exciting to watch.”
While an event favorite himself, Fanning is very aware of all the threats that exist at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.
“Jordy Smith is going to be dangerous,” Fanning said. “He’s the only surfer on tour that has made the final series of each event in 2010. With that kind of momentum and confidence going into J-Bay, a wave he knows so well, he’ll be one to keep an eye on.
“Kelly (Slater) is always a standout at J-Bay. His Round 2 heat at Jeffreys last year is still in my head. He was throwing away two nine-point rides. Parko (Joel Parkinson) is the other major threat. He’s had an average start compared to last year and J-Bay was the last event he won. I’ve been surfing with him quite a bit and he’s back to his best.”
South African Jordy Smith, 22, current ASP World No. 2, is having a career-best start in 2010, collecting a runner-up finish on the Gold Coast before equal fifths at Bells and in Brazil.
“I’ve definitely felt better this year than previous years,” Smith said. “I’ve kind of found my feet and it’s working out great. I think the main thing I’ve done differently is probably just the face that I’ve been more relaxed going into heats; not worrying about who I’ve got in my heat or anything like that. I’m just going out there and surfing and having fun.”
Clearly the danger man at Jeffreys Bay, Smith has arguably logged in more time at the icy pointbreak than any of the Top 45, making him the man to beat once competition kicks off.
Australia’s Parkinson, 29, 2009 ASP World runner-up and current ASP World No. 8, hasn’t enjoyed the same juggernaut start in 2010 as he did last season, but the stylish natural-footer is positive heading into the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.
“Eighth place right now is inconsequential,” Parkinson said. “There’s over two-thirds of the season left to run, and if I surf well and surf well consistently, then I will be moving up the ratings. That’s in my hands, not in anyone else’s. Whoever’s in front of me is irrelevant.”
A two-time winner of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay (2009, and in 1999 as a wildcard), Parkinson’s rapport with Jeffreys Bay borders on supernatural. When the wave is on, the Gold Coast is as dangerous as any, applying a beautiful forehand approach to the running righthanders.
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will begin on July 15 and run through July 25.
The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will be webcast live via billabongpro.com/jbay10/
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