Monday 21 August 2017 / 04:31 PM

WILKINSON AND SMITH SURVIVE EARLY ELIMINATION AT J-BAY

The Corona Open J-Bay, stop No. 6 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), ran through the opening two heats of elimination Round 2 before competition was put on hold and eventually called off after the inconsistent conditions at Jeffreys Bay failed to improve.

Two-time event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) survived a tough Round 2 clash against fellow South African and trials winner Dale Staples (ZAF) to avoid early elimination and advance on to Round 3. Despite posting the highest single-wave score of the heat, Staples wasn’t able to find the back-up score required and leaves the event in equal 25th place.

“It was definitely stressful out there and to be honest he (Staples) is probably the deadliest guy in the whole draw,” Smith said. “I was just really lucky because he didn’t quite get the score. I just wanted to get two waves out there. We didn’t have many sets but I’m just happy to get the job done. Even though we’re great friends everyone wants to win. It sucks to come up against Dale in a heat but I’m sure he’ll get more opportunities.”

“It’s always hard coming up against Jordy (Smith), one of my favorite surfers,” said Staples. “It would have been nice to have some better waves and put on a show for everyone. I just came a bit short at the end which is a bit of a bummer. It’s great to surf good waves against the best surfers in the world – that’s the difference between the CT and QS. It just makes me more hungry to win.”

Current No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson (AUS) faced South African wildcard Michael February (ZAF) in Heat 2. February came out firing and held the advantage after the opening exchange with 7.00 to Wilkinson’s 6.17. However, the Australian locked in a 6.93 for the heat win and his place in Round 3 and eliminating February from the contest.

“Mikey (February) has been surfing really good the past few days so I’m stoked to get the win,” Wilkinson said. “When the tide’s this high you’re so close to the reef so I’m happy to finish the heat intact and ready for Round 3. This event would be unbelievable to win. I got a third out here when the waves were pumping so I know I can get big scores here when the waves are good. I guess I just have to beat Mick (Fanning) out here – he seems to be the one that takes the goofys out. The speed of the wave here makes it tricky to get points on your backhand, so you have to find a balance between speed and turns.”

“It was really fun surfing against Matt (Wilkinson) but he’s number one for a reason,” said February. “Our heat was really fun at the beginning but then there weren’t too many sets. I’m still happy and I enjoyed it. It’s been my best start to the year and that builds a lot of confidence. This was just a bonus so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. It’s really cool to have this event in South Africa and it really gives us the determination to try and qualify for the CT.”

“Unfortunately that swell just hasn’t materialized and it’s still really inconsistent out there so we won’t run any more heats today,” said WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow. “We’ll come back tomorrow morning and things are still look really promising. We’re excited to see what the next few days will bring for J-Bay.”

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. local time to assess conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecaster for the Corona Open J-Bay, are calling for:

Surf will come up a notch on Sunday as another mid size SW to SSW swell fills in and breezy side to offshore wind prevails. Monday will see a temporary decreasing trend for the first half of the day as offshore flow likely continues. New SW to SSW swell looks likely to build over the later afternoon and evening hours Monday before peaking on Tuesday with solid surf. Wednesday will see a decreasing decreasing trend through the day. Favorable wind looks likely both Tue and Wed. There is potential for more SW swell for the end of next week.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.67 def. Dale Staples (ZAF) 10.27
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.10 def. Michael February (ZAF) 11.67

Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat  6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat  7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat  8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat  9: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)

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