Tom Curren (USA) claimed victory in the first round of the highly anticipated Clash of the Icons against fellow surfing legend Mark Occhilupo (AUS) at the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay this morning.
Sent out into clean one metre waves at Supertubes at 7.15 am, Curren started with two short rides before Occhilupo posted the first meaningful ride of the encounter – 6.50 out of 10 – for a series of trademark backhand carves. Curren waited patiently for the best waves and was rewarded with one that peeled the entire length of the point enabling the renowned stylist to rack up a 7.0.
Occy continued to be the busier of the two as they moved down the point to the cleaner faces at the Carpark section and the Australian held the lead going into the last five minutes. Curren’s patience paid off in the dying minutes as, needing just 4.51 points, he found the best wave of the heat and extracted everything from it, riding almost onto the rocks at Impossibles, to be awarded 7.50 by the judges and first blood in the clash.
There will be a second round between two of surfing’s best known ambassadors between the semifinals and the final of the Billabong Pro when Occhilupo will have the chance to restore parity to their 26 year rivalry that now stands at 9 wins to 8 wins in Curren’s favour.
The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay moved straight into Round 2 action with Heat 3 producing a nail-biting finale as Dean Morrison, the point break maestro from Australia, pipped current World No. 15 Jeremy Flores (FRA) with his last ride. Morrison will meet Nathaniel Curran (USA) in Round 3 after ASP World Tour rookie caused an upset by defeating current World No.2 and the No. 4 seed at J-bay, Adriano de Souza (BRA), in Round 2.
The rest of the day’s action features stellar match-ups as current ASP World Title contenders Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, Taj Burrow (AUS), 31, Mick Fanning (AUS), 28, and Kelly Slater (USA), 37, make their entry to the action.
South African interest starts in Heat 9 where uber-wildcard Sean Holmes (Cape Town), the standout of yesterday’s action, comes up against Burrow, the 2007 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay champion and current World No. 4.
That is followed in Heat 12 by the battle of the free-surfing phenomenons when Jordy Smith (Durban) starts his quest to become the first South African to clinch the title at Jeffreys Bay since the event gained World Tour status back in 1996 by taking on Dane Reynolds (USA).
Greg Emslie (East London), a two-time semifinalist at JBay, has drawn Bede Durbidge (AUS) in Heat 15 and will have to be at his best to overcome last year’s runner-up to Slater in the ASP World Tour standings.
Contest organisers will complete the 16 heats in Round 2 and hope to get as far as possible through the eight heats in Round 3 by the end of the day. The waves are forecast to build throughout the day as the swell moves into a more Southerly direction.
BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 3: Dean Morrison (AUS) 13.83 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.33
Heat 4: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.50 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.43
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.83 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 7.50
REMAINING BILLABONG PRO JEFFREYS BAY ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 7: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Heath Joske (AUS)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Sean Holmes (ZAF)
Heat 10: Mick Campbell (AUS) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 11: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 13: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 14: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 15: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 16: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Source: Surfing South Africa