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Mon, 27 May 2019

He's had setbacks, but he's still sixth in the world. If Jordy Smith can bank a few fair to good results, a win at JBay will be pivotal in his bid for a world title, writes Craig Jarvis.


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THIS IS A BOTTOM TURN: Jordy Smith grinds a proper turn off the bottom. Photo WSL / Poullenot


We always say that about Jordy. Every year we put our hope and faith in the big man, but for the last 18 months, Jordy has been in serious focus, working on fitness, diet and technique. He wants his first world title, bad.

In the wake of the Margie event, which starts in two days, and the event in Brazil (June 20-28), there is a two week break until the Corona JBay Open, South Africa’s only World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) event. The Corona JBay Open, which is halfway in the season, can easily set up anyone ranked in the upper echelons of the tour with a strong push for the title going into the back half of the year.

Jordy's form of late has been proof enough that he can do it, and he also has an excellent record at JBay. In his first event as a CT rookie in 2006, Jordy was unstoppable and it looked likely to be a rookie victory, a rare feat in the world of professional surfing. Surfing against Taj Burrow in the semi-final, Jordy needed a good score to oust Taj, and he picked up a bomb towards the end of the heat. Nerves got to him however, and he fell on his last turn, losing to the Australian by 0.5 of a point, and placing third in the final results.

In 2010, he pushed it further and took the win, defeating Australian Adam Melling in the final with some huge aerial turns in small surf. He repeated this in 2011, this time beating four times event champion and three times world champion Mick Fanning from Australia in the process.

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BLACKSLASH: Few can match Jordy when he's in the mood to throw buckets. Photo WSL / Dorsey


Last year Jordy looked like he was lining up for another victory, with some amazing performances throughout the day, but Wade Carmichael from Australia eliminated him in the semi-finals.

Jordy has often stated that JBay is his favourite wave, and the town is his favourite stops on the tour, and he always enjoys vocal support from the home crowds. “It’s amazing to surf here in front of the crowds and fans,” said Jordy after last year’s event. “You can hear them cheering you, as you take off, and it kind of energizes you and makes you want to surf better. Sometimes, while you’re actually riding a wave, the cheering quietens a bit, like when you pull into a barrel or something, but then it all comes pouring through again when you finish your ride.”

Jordy also acknowledged that the local support gave him so much drive last year. “When you have your friends and your family watching and supporting, it’s a great feeling,” said Jordy.

There is also the possibility of Smith representing South Africa in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. If he continues to perform at his current level, maintains a top 10 ranking and fulfils certain other qualification criteria, then he could be eligible to qualify for the Olympic team and compete at this level.

The Corona JBay Open is the anchor event for the JBay Winterfest, and takes place from 9–22 July.

More information on the JBay Winterfest can be found at www.jbaywinterfest.com
The event hash tag is #jbaywinterfest
The JBay Winterfest social media channels:
Website: www.jbaywinterfest.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jbaywinterfest
Instagram: @jbaywinterfest

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