By Bev Mortimer
Five of the world’s top surfers delighted the big crowd of journalists, photographers and important guests at the 2014 Jeffreys Bay Open of Surfing media conference held at InFood Jeffreys Bay this evening , 9 July.
The five international surfing stars were current ASP World No 4 and 2007 J-Bay Open champion Taj Burrow (Australia), current ASP World No 1 Gabriel Medina (Brazil), defending two-time J-Bay Open champion Jordy Smith (South Africa), current ASP World No 2 Michel Bourez (Tahiti) and reigning three-time ASP World Champion and two-time J-Bay Open champion (2002, 2006) Mick Fanning (Australia).
The five were asked questions on how they felt being back in Jeffreys Bay or in the case of Medina what it was like to be here for the first time first time in South Africa.
Taj was happy to be back and said he had a lot of good friends here. Medina was pleased to be here but he hid his table head under the table when asked about what he felt about Brazil’s dismal performance against Germany in the 2014 Soccer World Cup , muttering that he did not want to talk about that!
Medina is currently ranked No 1 on the ASP World Tour and poses a big threat to South Africa’s favourite Jordy Smith who has taken the JBay event before.
But Jordy says he knows JBay surf well and besides being delighted to be here again, he believes he is in with a Big chance to win again. Jordy won the 2010 and 2011 Billabong J-Bay competitions in South Africa.
All the surfers looked tanned, relaxed and fit as they sat at the table facing the barrage of media representatives and their questions. There were few questions this year as the surfers had answered the main questions already on everyone’es minds. In posing for the photos, most of the five surfers acted out and pulled faces and there were lots of smiles and twinkles in the eyes – in fact they were all quite at home already with no signs of jet lag .
And they are all looking forward to the surfing event that is anticipated to start tomorrow. Speaking of the waves they hoped the swell would hang around and looked forward to Supertubes’ with “such a perfect wave”.
“It’s so great back here; both for the surfers and for Jeffreys Bay,” said Jordy Smith. “It’s great for African surfing to have a WCT competition here on home turf. This is such a good event and I’d love to get my first win of the season here.”
“This is my first time here in J-Bay and it feels good,” said Gabriel Medina. “I’ve brought all my family here and everyone is having a lot of fun. I’ve had some good surfs and I’m going to try and do better than the Brazilian soccer team!”
““This has been a great year for me,” said Michel Bourez. “I’m really happy to be here, especially with these guys. If the waves are good the top surfers will do some amazing things and I hope to do as well as them. I’m so excited to be here.”
“This place is really special to me,” said Taj Burrow. “We were all so excited when we heard the news that the WCT was coming back to J-Bay. I love it here – when the wind roars and the swell pumps it’s amazing. I’m so happy to be back.”
“This is an event that I’ve always looked forward to,” said Mick Fanning. “I love right-hand point breaks and J-Bay is so iconic. I’m so lucky to get the chance to be out there with just one other guy and I’ve got my fingers crossed for some good waves”.
A big crowd of spectators is expected throughout the event that has the time slot 10-20 July for completion.
The media event held at In Food this evening was extremely well run and organised… no long boring speeches and speakers, who included CEO of ASP Paul Speaker and Virginia Camealio-Benjamin (Kouga Portfolio Councillor: Tourism) spoke briefly and to the point.
Benjamin welcomed the surfers to Kouga and thanked all those who made the return of the Jeffreys Bay Open of Surfing ASP World Tour event possible, including ASP and locals like Koffie Jacobs who was instrumental in the holding of the Winterfest in Jeffreys Bay this year at the same time as the international surfing event.
In Food was also thanked for hosting the event and Karen Beard and her team were also praised for the divine spread of eats. The surfers and guests were greeted and entertained by the African Drumbeat dancers dressed in brightly coloured Xhosa outfits.
From tomorrow the world’s best surfers who have converged in South Africa from around the globe will be ready to contest for the ASP World Title at the J-Bay Open Stop No 6 of 11 on the Men’s ASP World Championship Tour.
Glenn Hall (IRL) will join Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF), winner of the JBU Supertrials, as the event wildcards and both will compete alongside the ASP Top 34 and complete the field for the J-Bay Open.
J-Bay Open Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adam Melling (AUS), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Mitch Crews (AUS), Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF)
Heat 7: Nat Young (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Owen Wright (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Travis Logie (ZAF)
All photos By Bev Mortimer and courtesy of Clive Wright – as indicated.
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