Jordy Smith on his way to victory in the Hurley Pro in California. Photo: WSL / Rowland
South Africa’s Jordy Smith claimed victory at the Hurley Pro in California yesterday, 14 September, defeating 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson in the final of Stop No 8 of 11 on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour in 1 – 1.3 metre waves at the high performance cobblestone break of Lower Trestles.
This win is Smith’s fifth on the Championship Tour, his second at Lower Trestles and his best result of 2016 season, earning the 28 year-old from Durban US $100,000 (R1.4 million) and 10,000 points which lifted him to No. 4 on the Jeep Leaderboard and firmly into the World Title race with three events remaining on the schedule.
“I’ve had a really good surfboard under my feet this event,” Smith said. “I came into the event with an open mind. I missed it last year (through injury) when the waves were firing so I just wanted to come in and take it heat-by-heat. I’ve watched Joel [Parkinson] throughout my career and he’s one of my favourite surfers. I’m frothing and I’m over the moon.”
Smith’s tactics of staying in the inside position at the start paid off and he established a strong lead with a 6.0 and an excellent 8.17 early in the final as the two former event winners went head-to-head. But Parkinson responded with a 6.93 and a critical 8.43, the highest scoring ride of the clash, before Smith added a 7.63 to his tally. Without priority and three minutes on the clock, the Australian needed a 7.27 to take the win, but was not able to land the requirement.
“If I can be in with a shot at the World Title this year then that will be great,” continued Smith. “The European events can go either way so I’m just going to try my hardest and see how it goes. I think my Round 4 match-up against Kelly [Slater] and Michel Bourez was the toughest here, and of course that semi-final against Filipe (Toledo) was a big heat too.”
This event marks Parkinson’s best result of the year and his first finals appearance since the 2014 J-Bay Open where he also earned a runner-up finish. The 2004 Lowers Champion found his form once again, overcoming in-form local wildcard Tanner Gudauskas (USA) in a nail-biting semi-final duel to earn a place in the final against Smith. Parkinson moves up eight places to sixth on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I really fell in love with this wave and this town in 2004,” Parkinson said. “This year was another wonderful year at Trestles and I’m really happy to be back here and on the podium — it feels really good. This event I was so motivated and really keen to notch up a win. The talent of surfing in this event is incredible and I have to give it to Jordy, he’s an amazing surfer and a top World Title contender.”
Tyler Wright (AUS) claimed her fourth Championship Tour victory of the season in an all-Australian final against six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). The win sees Wright retain the Jeep Leader Yellow Jersey, increases her lead on the rankings and moves her ever closer to claiming her first World Title heading into the last three events.
“It’s been quite a journey from this point last year and a lot has changed this season,” said Wright. “It’s all come together and I’m absolutely loving it. I knew I had to get on the better waves facing Steph [Gilmore] in the final. Surfing against her is great, she’s still one of my surfing idols and inspires me to go after things my own way.”
The two finalists have shared 19 head-to-head CT match-ups, with Wright taking her eighth win over Gilmore. Wright opened her account with an excellent 8.50 and 6.37 to put pressure on the six-time WSL Champion and Gilmore charged back with progressive surfing to lock in a 6.00, but still needed an excellent 8.87.
With two minutes left, a set provided the finalists one last opportunity. Gilmore delivered a near-perfect 9.13 but Wright was able to improve her 6.37 with an 8.63 and take the win.
Gilmore posted the highest heat total of the Swatch Women’s Pro in Round 4 and her runner-up finish sees the 2014 event winner move up from 7th to 5th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I love this place and this wave so it’s really nice to come here and get a good result,” said Gilmore. “Congrats to Tyler [Wright]! My goal is just to win an event this season. Since my injury I haven’t really put together a complete performance so we’ll see what happens heading into Europe and in Hawaii, which is a favourite.
South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag was eliminated in Round 2 of the Swatch Women’s Pro, finishing equal 13th and dropping from 10th to 12th on the Jeep Leaderboard. The 22 year-old from Victoria Bay will be determined to deliver great results in Europe and Hawaii to force her way back into the top 10 in order to re-qualify for a fourth successive year on the CT.
The next event on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour will be the Cascais Women’s Pro, which will see the world’s best female surfers go head to head in Portugal from September 24 – 2 October. The next CT event for men is the Quiksilver Pro France from 4 – 15 October.
Men’s Hurley Pro Final Results:
1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.80
2 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.36
Men’s Hurley Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.23 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.50
SF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.43 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 14.33
2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard Top 5 (After Hurley Pro)
1. John John Florence (HAW) 41,650 points
2. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 37,450
3. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 36,500
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 35,200
5. Kelly Slater (USA) 29,650
Swatch Women’s Pro Final Results:
1 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.13
2- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.13
Swatch Women’s Pro Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.60 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 14.17
SF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 18.60 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 14.60
2016 WSL Jeep Women’s Leaderboard Top 5 (After Swatch Women’s Pro):
1. Tyler Wright (AUS) 63,450 points
2. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 46,200
3. Carissa Moore (HAW) 42,500
4. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 38,450
5. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 37,300
12. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 23,550