Top surfers head for J-Bay
Three leading South African surfers’ berths have so far been confirmed for the Corona JBay Open, the anchor event for the JBay Winterfest, to be held from July 2-17.
Jordy Smith, Mikey February and the leading South African on the World Qualifying Series (QS) after the Ballito Pro will all have the potential to do great damage to the status quo on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
The danger man is always going to be Smith, originally from Durban, eighth on the CT rankings’ Jeep Leaderboard.
Smith has a stellar record at Jeffreys Bay, including wins in 2010 and 2011, but has had a slow start to this year’s premier tour.
After that dismal start, he kicked into gear during the recent Indonesian leg at Keramas and Uluwatu, and has risen through the ranks prior to this event.
Smith is always one of the most dynamic surfers in the water at Supertubes and last year he scored an incredible 20 points out of a possible 20, the highest possible score under the current judging system.
Smith, 29, comes into this event hungry to re-establish himself on a world title hunt, and one more big result will place him in just that position.
He will be the man to beat from the outset.
He is always the crowd favourite on any given day at the contest venue.
Rookie campaigner February, of Kommetjie, is the second starter in the JBay Open.
The lanky natural-footer qualified for the Championship Tour after a great semifinal result at last year’s Ballito Pro World Qualifying Series 10 000 event, combined with a run of wins in the City Surf Series that took place in Nelson Mandela Bay, Cape Town, Durban and East London.
February has a great track record in Jeffreys Bay by achieving two runner-up placings in the JBU Supertrial in 2015 and 2016, as well as a last-minute slot into the main event in 2016 due to an injury withdrawal.
February also has great knowledge of the lineup at Supertubes and is always up from Cape Town to chase a swell when his schedule allows.
He has the big match temperament needed for premier league surfing events and could easily create a major upset at a wave he knows well and loves.
Currently placed 31st on the Championship Tour and with an average placing on the Qualifying Series, he needs a huge result on home turf to re-establish himself on the Championship Tour and requalify for the 2019 season.
The third South African surfer to be competing at Jeffreys Bay will be the highest-placed South African surfer on the World Qualifying Series (QS) after the Ballito Pro.
This contest is rated as a 10 000 event and is the highest-rated event on this tour, with a massive 10 000 points going to the winner.
Right now the South African surfer ranked highest on the global QS rankings is Matt McGillivray of Jeffreys Bay.
McGillivray recently won the Vans Surf Pro Classic held in Lambert’s Bay on the West Coast and is ranked 10th on the ratings board.
However, his points tally is sitting at only 6 950, which goes to show how important a result in a 10 000 event is.
A big result will swing the positions very quickly, and going into Ballito there are many hungry young South African surfers like Cape Town’s Jordy Maree, Durban’s Davey van Zyl and Jeffreys Bay’s Dylan Lightfoot, who are all on the hunt for points and qualification status.
For more information, visit: www.jbaywinterfest.com