The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay recommenced Monday with the first six heats of Round 2 taking advantage of an unexpected clean pulse through the iconic pointbreak.
Event No. 4 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay plays a crucial role in both the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title as well as the requalification campaigns of the world’s best surfers before the mid-season rotation. Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, punctuated the day’s affairs with the highest heat total of the Round (a 15.80 out of a possible 20), lighting up the offshore-kissed righthanders with aggressive backhand surfing.
“It’s challenging out there with the inconsistency,” Buchan said. “We’re always in a tough spot when faced with less-than-stellar forecasts, and I think the guys understood that we had to get out there and battle one another. It might not be equal for all heats in a round or all rounds in a contest, but at least it’s equal between each guy in the heat.”
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, current leader in the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title, scored his first heat win since an emotional hometown victory in Brazil in May and looks to be recovering well from knee injury sustained during a training trip to the Maldives.
“I think with every surf I’m building momentum,” De Souza said. “I’m really happy to make this heat. I’ve been a little low during my last few surfs, but this win really builds my confidence. I’m just focusing on each heat and each event and not thinking about the title right now.”
Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, Equal 3rd finisher at Jeffreys Bay in 2010, racked up a 15.10 out of a possible 20 in a convincing win over Shaun Joubert (ZAF), 20. Joubert, who was in as a replacement for Bobby Martinez (USA), 29, exhibited some electric surfing, even putting Durbidge on the back foot at one point, but it was the powerful Australian who would eventually grab the win.
“I changed my strategy a little bit actually,” Durbidge said. “Bobby (Martinez) is a really good pointbreak surfer, he’s really strong and powerful. Shaun (Joubert) is a really good air surfer, but he hasn’t surfed at this level a whole lot so I tried to put some scores up early and put the pressure on him.”
After a slow start to the year, Durbidge has been on a roll lately and will look to maintain the form through the course of the event.
“It feels really good to get through that heat,” Durbidge said. “I haven’t had the best year so far and I was getting kind of down on myself. It was an important heat for me in terms of keeping the momentum going from Brazil.”
Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, current No. 4 on the ASP World Title rankings, was in blistering form this morning, taking down lethal wildcard Sean Holmes is a closely-fought Round 2 battle.
“It’s tricky out there today,” Burrow said. “It’s really clean, but a bit inconsistent. Sean (Holmes) is so dangerous out there. He knows the wave better than anyone and I wasn’t taking him lightly. Stoked to get through and hopefully we are able to take advantage of some swell later in the week.”
Travis Logie (ZAF), 32, who replaced Kelly Slater (USA), 39, under the new ASP ruling in today’s Round 2, surfed an intelligent heat against wildcard Shaun Payne (ZAF), 26, advancing through to Round 3 and collecting valuable ASP World Rankings points along the way.
“It’s been the weirdest week of my life,” Logie said. “I’ve been hanging around and wondering if I’m getting into the event and dealing with the rumor mill. I guess it was all worth it though. That was a huge heat for me and my campaign to get back on tour full time.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Damien Hobgood (USA), 32, against compatriot Taylor Knox (USA), 40, in Heat 7 of Round 2.
Highlights from the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will be available via http://www.billabongpro.com