Jordy Smith: hey, home win

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, has claimed his maiden ASP elite victory, taking out the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay over Adam Melling (AUS), 25, in front of a capacity hometown crowd.

Event No. 4 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay was nothing but blaring Vuvuzelas and roars from the bluff as these two titans went tit-for-tat in an incredible Final exchange. The young South African proved the victor, dominating from the outset and securing an emotional first win.

“This is the best day of my life,” Smith said. “The crowd on the beach has been supporting me the last few days and hearing the cheers and the Vuvuzelas just gets me fired up to perform. It feels like they’re pushing me along. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The most experienced surfer at Jeffreys Bay, Smith left very little to chance in the Final against Melling, opening his account with a blazing 8.90 before backing it up with some scintillating forehand surfing for a 9.03. The combination of scores (17.93 out of a possible 20) proved insurmountable for Melling.

“I knew the swell was dying and I had to take advantage of every wave that came through,” Smith said. “Adam (Melling) is such a dangerous surfer. He’s been in form all day and I knew that if he got the waves, he would get the scores. I went out there knowing I had to open up strong.”

After taking the ratings’ lead over former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 38, yesterday, Smith solidified his position as the ASP World No. 1 with today’s emphatic victory.

“It definitely is a different feeling,” Smith said. “To be chasing the lead and defending the lead are two different things. It’s a long year ahead and you can’t count anyone out until it’s over. I’m going to enjoy this feeling for now.”

Smith’s Final’s berth almost never was, as the big South African was comboed by lethal Australian Bede Durbidge (AUS), 27, with four minutes remaining in their Semifinal clash. Catching two waves in under a minute, Smith unloaded a barrage of aerials and forehand blasts to claw his way back into the lead.

“I’m still not too sure what happened – it’s all a blur,” Smith said. “I got that first one where I did the little grab air that I didn’t think was good, but the judges scored the whole wave pretty well. Then I backed it up and put everything I had into it.”

Melling’s “Cinderella” climb to the Finals was nothing short of sensational. Rated a lowly 41st on the ASP World Title Race rankings heading into Jeffreys Bay, the 2010 ASP Dream Tour rookie powered his way through five rounds of competition before coming short in the Final. His Runner-Up finish sees him bumped up to ASP World No. 19, well inside the safety zone for the dreaded mid-year field reduction.

“The ocean didn’t cooperate with me in the Final so that’s a shame but I couldn’t be happier,” Melling said. “We had amazing waves and to get the best result of my career is huge. I came into Jeffreys with a long road ahead if I were to make the mid-year cut-off, and now that I’m 19th, I feel like I have a bit of a buffer heading into Tahiti. I worked really hard to get here and I want to stay here.”

Durbidge suffered one of the hardest losses of the event, having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory by a last-minute crusade by Smith. Despite the bitter loss, Durbidge’s Equal 3rd vaults him from 10th to 7th on the ASP World Title Race rankings heading into the fifth event of the year.

“I had him comboed with only four minutes to go,” Durbidge said. “He took off on that one-footer and pulled that ‘Superman’ air and finished off well, then came out and got another one. I think he got two waves in a minute or something. It’s a hard way to lose, but Semifinals is my best result of the year and it’s something to build on. The focus is on Tahiti now.”

Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, consistently wowed audiences with his performance from Round 1 onwards, collecting the event’s highest heat total in yesterday’s Round 4. Despite today’s Semifinal loss at the hands of Melling, the Western Australian moves up to ASP World No. 2 heading into Tahiti.

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Final Results:

1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.93
2 – Adam Melling (AUS) 10.00

Ty Watson: a flying victory

Ty Watson (NSW/Currarong/Sth Coast) won his first ever ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series event by taking out the Fantastic Noodles Pro Junior in powerful surf at Waitpinga Beach in South Australia.

“It’s the best feeling to finally win an ASP Pro Junior event” said Watson.

“This is my final year on this series and coming into this event, with just three events remaining I’ve had it on my mind to really try and win one – I’ve made finals and semi-finals but until today have not nailed a win and it just feels great.”

Mid way through today’s final Watson made his charge, throwing caution almost to the wind when he executed and landed a critical front-side aerial and was awarded an excellent 8 point ride to take the lead.

A few minutes later Watson found another near excellent ride that included a barrelling section to score a 7.75 to take a comprehensive lead with a final tally of 15.75 to Sam Wrench (Ulludulla/Sth Coast NSW) on 10.25.

“I knew I had to land that aerial move to win” added Watson.

“I’ve been working really hard on my aerial’s for the past two years and today all that hard work paid off when I pulled that move.

“Dad told both myself and my younger brother Jordi that to succeed as a professional surfer you have to be able to surf aerials and both of us have worked to become good aerialists and today just reinforces how important it is – I’m ecstatic and I have a great chance to qualify for the ASP World Junior Championships now and I’ll go to Bali really focused on a great result.”

Equal third place today went to Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay) and Chris Salisbury (Sydney) and the overall ASP Australasian Pro Junior season ratings sees numerous surfers now well in contention to make the top four on the season end ratings with two very important events remaining.

Mitch Crews (Qld/Currumbin) today sealed his magnificent season by being crowned ASP Australasian Pro Junior champion.

The twenty-year-old Gold Coast surfer fought back from a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed late last year and his success today is a story of determination and belief embraced by all his surfing peers.

“I’ve been really nervous the past few events knowing I was close to claiming the season ratings win and when Davey (Cathels) was eliminated today in his round four heat I figured maybe my season win was done – when I heard it officially I was overwhelmed- it feels great and I’m now really looking forward to surfing these next events, especially the coming Billabong event in Bali next week with no pressure and just going for an event win.”

The waves throughout this event in South Australia have been outstanding with numerous outstanding barrel rides.

The Pro Junior girls division will be finalised tomorrow most likely at Middleton Beach and the season ratings in their division is very much alive, particularly with number one rated surfer Sarah Mason eliminated in round one.

Ben Apps: that should't be easy...

History was created today as the first ever NSW Standup Paddleboard champions were crowned at the picturesque One Mile Beach.

Greeted with clear skies, light offshore winds and beautiful, clean lines, the best Paddlers in the state put on a memorable show, heralding just how far the fledging sport has come.

With approximately 50 competitors competing for prestigious state titles and the opportunity to compete at the Australian Stand Up Paddleboard Titles, held as part of the Country Energy Australian Surf Festival at Port Macquarie in August, spectators, competitors and event organisers were on tenterhooks before the opening siren.

In the Open Male division, high scores highlighted the preliminary rounds of competition as competitors pushed the limits of traditional paddleboarding.

Seeing futuristic moves infused with traditional nuances, the level of competition rose as the event widdled down to the pointy end.

However, after some amazing performances, it was Ben Apps (Woonona, NSW) who stood tallest when the smoke cleared.

Defeating Noel Graham (Lennox Head, NSW), Rodger Saunders (Minnie Waters, NSW) and Scott Downing (Woonona, NSW), who finished second, third and fourth respectively, Apps found himself the first ever NSW Standup Paddleboard champion.

“I’m stoked,” he said.

“To take the first ever state title is a real honour,” he added after accruing a total heat score of 15.74 (out of a possible 20).

Having been an excellent junior surfer, Apps has only been riding paddleboards for approximately 18 months.

“I had no idea what they were until a year and a half ago,” he admitted wryly.

“But since then the level of skill and competition has risen out of sight.”

Having ridden a wave of popularity, across the globe, over the past decade, stand-up paddleboarding has etched its way firmly into the sphere of competitive and recreational surfing, culminating with this inaugural event.

The hybrid discipline, which takes inspiration from surfing, skiing, wakeboarding and skateboarding, continues to rapidly evolve and grow in popularity.

In the Open Women division it was Sondra Purser (Merewether, NSW) who led from the front to take a commanding victory over Cinde Fisher (Crescent Head, NSW), Di Clasby (Freshwater, NSW) and Melissa McManus (Woollamia, NSW), who finished second, third and fourth respectively.

“I’m really honoured to have won this event,” Purser said tallying an impressive 12.34 (out of a possible 20) in the final.

“I’ve been experimenting a lot with my equipment recently, so hopefully I can continue to improve in time for the Country Energy Australian Surf Festival.”

Having finalised a superb team of stand up paddleboarders for The Country Energy Australian Surf Festival, NSW look to be in great stead for the second ever stand up paddleboard national titles.