World’s best surfers chase J-Bay Open title

8 July 2014

The J-Bay Open, the sixth of 11 stops on the 2014 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), begins on Thursday, with the world’s best surfers set to do battle in the renowned surf of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Universally regarded as one of the best right-hand point-breaks on the planet, Jeffreys Bay rejoins the WCT in 2014 after a two-year hiatus from elite competition.

Last J-Bay Open

J-Bay was last on the WCT schedule in 2011, when South African Jordy Smith delighted home fans with his second win in the event in as many years.

The event ran as an ASP six-Star Qualification Series (QS) competition in 2012 when Brazilian Adriano de Souza claimed victory.

Differences between WCT and QS

“When I won the QS event here in 2012, I recognized the difficulties and differences that proved unique to that event, as opposed to when it was a WCT event,” De Souza said in a statement on Monday.

“The QS has a lot of upcoming talents and they’re all hungry to take elite scalps and show the world they deserve to qualify. I know, because that was me at that level. Besides this factor, the 2012 event still had guys like John John (Florence), Jordy (Smith), Alejo (Muniz), Brett Simpson and others.

“For sure, it was a special event for me and I’m very proud to have won it,” De Souza said. “However, it was two years ago and winning a QS event there is much different to winning a WCT. They’re just not the same thing.

“I’m very excited it’s back on the schedule and I hope the waves pump because the level of talent on tour this season has been scary good. I really hope to do well again in J-Bay this year.”

Eleven-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater has won at Jeffreys Bay three times (1996, 2003 and 2005), reigning three-time ASP world champion Mick Fanning claimed victory in 2002 and 2006, while Jordy Smith took back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 and is the defending event winner.

Smith excited

“When I got the news that Jeffreys was returning to the schedule this season, I basically ran around my house screaming for 30 minutes,” Smith said.

“It’s a special wave. It’s a special wave for me personally and has been intertwined with my career since I can remember.

“The level of surfing on tour this season has been ridiculous. If there are waves, we’re going to see some crazy stuff go down.”

Predicted weather conditions

Surfline, the official forecasters for the J-Bay Open, are predicting a medium-sized, south-westerly swell for Thursday, the first day of the contest waiting period, with a fading trend into the weekend.

South African Dylan Lightfoot, the winner of the JBU Supertrials held on the 5 June has received one of two event wildcards with the other to be announced in the coming days. The wildcards will compete alongside the ASP Top 34 and complete the field for the J-Bay Open.

The competition will be webcast live on the aspworldtour.com website

SAinfo reporter