It was an icy winter day that dawned for the remaining competitors in the Billabong Pro J-Bay Friday, but with contestable waves running down the point, the competitors were straight out into the water.
The first surprise of the morning was two-time defending champion Jordy Smith, of South Africa, getting eliminated by an on-form Joan Duru. In the small and inconsistent conditions, Smith battled to find the high scoring waves, while Duru paddled into some good waves and rode them with confidence.
The second upset was a dominant Dale Staples defeating John John Florence, from Hawaii. Surfing fast and smooth, Dale kept John John at bay all the way through to a nail-biting finish, with the young South African getting the nod from the judges. Dale was eventually knocked out by Aritz Aranburu in the quarter finals and finished as the highest placed South African in the event.
Although smaller than the absolute perfection that persisted throughout the first three days of competition, there were still excellent, high-scoring waves coming through and the remaining competitors were throwing it down on the fast, lined up Supertubes walls.
In the first semi-final, Adriano De Souza faced off against Ezekiel Lau, with the young Brazilian blasting his way through the heat and earning his spot in the final. The second semi-final was a one-sided affair between Duru and Aritz Aranburu, with Duru winning the heat comfortably and heading on to the final.
By the time the final heat paddled out, the bad weather that the contest organisers had been tracking all week was upon the competitors. With the onshore wind up and the rain falling, the two competitors went tooth and nail, with Duru quickly scoring a 9.27 out of a possible 10 points, showing that the conditions were still extremely contestable.
Adriano De Souza lost a fin on the shallow inside rocks and chose to do a runaround, picking up his back up board in the process. De Souza slipped back into the line-up and picked up a nice little wave from way up the point that opened up for him and allowed him to score an 8.33 and victory.
“I’ve come to South Africa and to Jeffreys Bay for so many years, and have always seen the guys win the Billabong Pro, and now it’s my turn,” said Adriano. “I’m just so happy, and I’m going to remember this win for my whole life. J-Bay is a special place for me and hopefully see you again next year."
The Nixon Winner Takes All prize of a US$10,000 jewel-encrusted Nixon watch for the highest heat score of the event went to Nathan Hedge, of Australia, for his incredible 19.27 score in the first round of the event.
“What a sick prize,” said Nathan. “A few years ago I was in the final with AI and he needed a ten to beat me and he got it, so maybe it was AI who sent me the 10 this year.”
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