Jordy Smith, the two-time defending event champion of the JBay event, was joined on the sidelines by 11 x ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), current ASP World No. 2 Tahitian Michel Bourez and Australian Taj Burrow in a series of upsets as variable winds and big tidal changes affected the three to five foot (1 to 1.5 metre) waves.
Smith, whose Round 1 heroics still stand as the highest heat total of the competition so far, had a shaky start to his encounter with former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood, posting a couple of throwaway scores after the American had opened with mid-range rides. A 5.13 and an 8.0 midway through the heat briefly gave Smith the lead but a pair of 7.0’s by Hobgood left the South African needing a 6.17 going into the final minutes.
A crucial final exchange followed and it was the American who came out on top with Smith left a mid-range score short of the win and bowing out of the event in equal 13th place.
“I realize that I’m so blessed to surf against the best surfers in the world at their home spots,” Hobgood said. “I get excited and I know the best surfing is going to come out of me. I was in disbelief out there. Jordy takes off on a wave and the whole beach erupts, and I was just trying to keep myself motivated. I’m stoked.”
Goofy-footer Wilkinson (AUS), fresh from a second-place finish at the ASP Qualification Series Prime event, the Mr Price Pro Ballito, caused the first big upset of the day when defeated Kelly Slater in their Round 3 clash.
A pair of nine-point rides from the Australian were sufficient to put the four-time J-Bay event winner in a combination situation and after uncharacteristically slipping off his board in the closing minutes, Slater left the competition in equal 13th place while Wilkinson went on to win his Round 4 heat against Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Kolohe Andino (USA) and earn a place in the Quarterfinals.
“No-one really looks forward to a heat against Kelly but my backhand and my boards are feeling really solid,” said Matt Wilkinson. “It’s so hard to beat anyone out here at J-Bay. I knew I needed to catch good waves against Kelly and I’m stoked to make it through.”
“I was rattled from the first exchange,” said Kelly Slater. “From Matt’s first wave it seemed like he was totally in sync. Every set he seemed to have the better waves. I should have just been a bit more relaxed, maybe waited out a set. I really just blew it. My results thus far have been consistent but not very good, so we’ll have to see how the rest of the year shapes up after this.”
Two-time J-Bay Open winner Parkinson battled 2010 J-Bay Open runner-up and fellow Australian, Adam Melling, in the first heat of the day and chalked up his sixth victory out of 10 duels with his compatriot. Parko went on to claim victory once again in Round 4 against compatriots Josh Kerr and Burrow with his 18th WCT heat win of the 2014 season securing a pass directly to the Quarterfinals.
“J-Bay has a special place in my heart, I love it,” said Parkinson. “I felt like it was all starting to come together in that heat. My goal is always just to make the last day and hopefully Mother Nature brings us some great waves.”
Muniz (BRA) grabbed his first Quarterfinal berth of the 2014 season by overcoming current Bourez in Round 3 and then outpointing three-time and reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and Hobgood (USA) in Round 4.
“It’s always hard to surf against Michel (Bourez) because he is a really good friend of mine,” said Alejo Muniz. “I think him and Gabriel (Medina) are the best two surfers of the year. I knew it was going to be tough, especially in these conditions. I’m really glad I made it and I’m so happy I can surf one more heat at J-Bay.”
“I wasn’t really feeling it today,” said Bourez. “I was just out there trying to get waves, but perhaps I should have been more patient. I’m really despondent about the results but life goes on and the next competition is coming soon. I’ll just go home and try to refocus for the next event.”
The fourth Quarterfinal slot went to Owen Wright (AUS) who upset Hawaiian John John Florence in his first clash of the day and then claimed victory in an all-goofyfoot matchup with current ASP World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Hawaiian standout Fredrick Patacchia.
A decision will be made at 7 a.m. on Tuesday on whether to resume Round 5 of competition.
J-Bay Open Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.83 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 8.50
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.73 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.77
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.74 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.33
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.04 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.37
Heat 5: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.10
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 18.36 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.37
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.46 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 15.17
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.40 def. John John Florence (HAW) 8.00
Heat 9: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.60 def. Nat Young (USA) 5.44
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.33 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 10.27
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.00 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.87
Heat 12: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.50 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.60
J-Bay Open Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.44, Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.47, Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.40
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.34, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.17, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.37
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.60, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.76, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.70
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.57, Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.40, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.50
J-Bay Open Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
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