After three lay days competition resumed today at the J-Bay Open, stop No. 6 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). The event ran through Round 4 at Jeffreys Bay before being called off and set the stage for an exciting Finals Day tomorrow.
The opening heat of Round 4 saw an all-Australian clash between Kai Otton (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS) and Adrian Buchan (AUS). Otton was first out of the gates and posted a 7.33 to get ahead of the field and held onto the lead through much of the heat. Buchan’s precision and timing netted him a 6.10 at the end of the bout and he stole the win, earning a place in the Quarterfinals and sending Otton and Wilson to Round 5.
“It feels like there are a lot of waves coming through but you kind of have to sift through all the garbage to find the little gems,” said Buchan. “I sat for a long time after that first big score I posted. I was confident I was going to get the score and just left it right to the end. It felt good to get the score.”
The remaining three heats saw three Brazilian winners, starting with Jeep ratings leader Adriano de Souza (BRA) who took on Nat Young (USA) and Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) in Heat 2. A 7.00 on his second wave gave De Souza the edge but the dangerous rookie posted a 7.40 and stole the top spot. A big tail-high reverse from De Souza earned him the win and a Quarterfinal berth. Dantas, who previously dispatched 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) in Round 3, kept busy through the heat but couldn’t find the score needed and will surf again in Round 5 along with Young.
“I’m happy to be in the yellow leader jersey, but on the other hand I have to be really focused and I have to be really careful in this event because there are so many good surfers,” said De Souza. “It’s really dangerous in this contest. I have to do well and I have to go heat-by-heat and day-by-day. I’m happy to make the Quarterfinals and see what I can do tomorrow.”
Heat 3 saw a much-anticipated match-up take to the water. With 15 World Titles and seven J-Bay Open wins among them Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Fanning (AUS) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) battled to skip Round 5 and earn a pass directly to the Quarterfinals. Slater and Medina are in need of a good result at the J-Bay Open after both having a disappointing start to the season, sitting in 11th and 20th place respectively on the Jeep Leaderboard. Only mid-range scores were posted during the opening half of the heat and Slater claimed a narrow lead. Medina started to pick up momentum through the final ten minutes however, and a 6.73 gave the reigning WSL Champion the advantage while three-time World Champion, Fanning, struggled to find a backup score. A last-minute attempt from the 11-time World Champion wasn’t enough and the young Brazilian took the win. Fanning and Slater will surf again in Round 4.
“I knew that was going to be a tough one,” said Medina. “We haven’t had a lot of heats together before. I thought the waves were going to be better, but it’s pretty tricky out there. It’s hard to find the good ones, but luckily I got through. I’m stoked to surf against those guys. I’ve been watching them since I was a little grom and to be competing against them is a dream come true. Last year was amazing to be fighting for the title against them but it’s always good to surf against them.”
Hawaiian rookie Keanu Asing (HAW) took on Michel Bourez (PYF) and wildcard Alejo Muniz (BRA) in the final heat of the day. Muniz has been on an excellent run of through the contest, taking down current World No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) in Round 3 and Taj Burrow (AUS) in Round 2, and that continued today. Both Asing and Muniz got off to a solid start and posted 6 point rides to open their score lines. Muniz earned an 8.17, the highest score of the day for his second ride, and secured the win and his place in the Quarterfinals.
“There is less pressure on me as a wildcard for sure, said Muniz. “All my focus this year is on the Qualifying Series and I already have the points I need to qualify. I’ve been enjoying myself here in J-Bay and I’m just trying to do my best and get the best waves.”
The J-Bay Open is webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com.
The world’s best surfing is also broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.
The J-Bay Open is the showcase event at the J-Bay Winterfest, a multi-sport and music festival in Jeffreys Bay from July 8 – 19. More details at www.jbaywinterfest.com.
J-Bay Open Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.70, Kai Otton (AUS) 13.50, Julian Wilson (AUS) 7.77
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.00, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.57, Nat Young (USA) 8.77
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.90, Kelly Slater (USA) 12.27, Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.94
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.34, Keanu Asing (HAW) 14.04, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.27
J-Bay Open Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 4: Keanu Asing (HAW) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)