Jordy Smith and Mick Fanning got their Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay surf campaigns off to the best possible start with convincing wins on day one in South Africa.
Smith is currently ranked the second-best surfer on the planet behind nine-times ASP World Champion Kelly Slater and is in prime form after a win last week in Durban; the South African eased through to the next round with an excellent score.
The home hope racked up an impressive 16.37 out of a possible 20 in defeating Tom Whittaker (Australia) and Joan Doru (France) and Smith claims not to feel any added burden of expectation from the South African fans, who came with their vuvuzelas to show their support.
"I think the only kind of pressure that exists is that which I put on myself," Smith (pictured below) said. "Winning last week in Durban was a great feeling, but this is where I love to be, and getting to surf a firing Jeffreys with only two other guys out is an incredible experience.
"Being number two in the world and in South Africa is an interesting feeling," he continued. "Obviously I want to get a good result and make my country proud, but all that really isn't on my mind when I'm out there and Jeffreys is firing. All you can think about is surfing your best. Hopefully I can continue the momentum throughout the next few days."
Defending ASP World Champion Fanning (pictured at top) also enjoyed a comfortable first round win. The Australian even managed to eclipse Smith's score by posting the best total of the day – a 16.70 in defeating Sean Holmes (South Africa) and Roy Powers (USA).
Fanning may even have improved on that sensational effort if it hadn't been for changing conditions.
"The conditions changed a bit in our heat and we were slightly out of sorts," Fanning said. "We were all hunting for the barrel because a lot of the previous heats had them, but they didn't pan out for us. After I readjusted to the conditions, I was really focusing on my turns and if a barrel presented itself, I would go from there."
The 29-year-old is currently in fourth place in the ASP overall rankings. He revealed his current approach to competition in defense of his title. "This year, you have to take every heat seriously," Fanning said. "There are so many threats and even the rookies can do damage. I feel like I've been surfing well all year and I'm just focusing on every heat, and hopefully that takes me to a solid result."
Tiago Pires was also victorious in his Round 1 heat, dispatching the USA's Tim Reyes and Red Bull teammate Adriano de Souza from Brazil. Adriano (pictured below) bounced back in Round 2, however, defeating South Africa's Shaun Joubert to advance to Round 3, where he took another win.
"Every heat I feel like I am gaining more confidence in my abilities," de Souza said. "I have really good boards right now and am just enjoying surfing excellent waves at Jeffreys Bay. I'm inside the Top 10 right now and I just want to keep pushing here and at the next events to the Top 5, the Top 3 and eventually a World Title."
Jordy Smith also triumphed in his Round 3 heat, defeating Nate Yeomans. Remaining Round 3 match-ups to go down when the event resumes include Michel Bourez vs. Brett Simpson, Tiago Pires vs. Kekoa Bacalso and Mick Fanning vs. Tim Reyes.