Jordy Smith heads to JBay Open
Jeffreys Bay - Sitting at No 4 on the leaderboard of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), Durban-born surfer Jordy Smith is a top contender for this year's Corona JBay Open title.
Smith already has two victories under his belt at this iconic location, winning back-to-back events in 2010 and 2011, beating Adam Melling and Mick Fanning, respectively, in those two events.
Smith has long been recognised as one of the best surfers at Supertubes, and apart from the two victories, has a number of 10-point rides as well as an extremely rare perfect 20-point heat score that he achieved in 2017.
Many winter seasons were spent surfing the perfect racetracks of Supers, with Smith spending time at Cheron Kraak's house on the point, learning the subtleties of the break and discovering tricks and points of difference that only local knowledge can impart.
Smith has such a unique approach to the waves at Supertubes as a result of all the formative years spent surfing there, and knows instinctively which waves are going to be the best options for high-scoring moves and barrels, as well as which ones to avoid. This gives him a massive advantage on people who have not spent as many hour at the break as he has.
His current nemesis is Brazilian natural-footer Filipe Toledo. Winning the last two years in a row at JBay leaves Toledo with the chance of achieving a hat-trick this year at the JBay Open. He is fresh off a win at the Oi Rio Pro, the contest previous to the JBay Open, where he beat none other than Jordy Smith in the final.
Sitting just above Smith in the rankings at No 3, their sparring is most definitely developing into a rivalry of sorts. Toledo is also hungry for a world title, and with current ratings leader John John Florence out with an injury, there is a massive opportunity for these surfers to regain some ground in his absence.
This year has also seen a fresh take on the Smith persona, with Jordy opting for a plant-based diet, working on fitness, slimming down a little and looking focused but relaxed, as dangerous a combination as it gets.
With his previously-mentioned fourth placed position on the CT rankings, Jordy is within striking distance of a world title, and the back half of the Tour is always to his liking, with the European leg a place where Smith historically does well.
Arriving in the Eastern Cape nice and early for the upcoming event, Smith has already lucked into some great waves in the area and has acclimitised himself to the waves and the water. He has been testing fresh equipment, keeping the fitness levels up, and relaxing and surfing.
The last time South Africa had a Championship Tour surfer as a world champion was Shaun Tomson in 1977.
Martin Potter had left South Africa and was surfing for the United Kingdom when he won in 1989.
Currently South Africa have two South African title holders within the WSL range, with Grant Baker from Durban as the Big Wave world champion and Steve Sawyer from JBay as the Longboard world champion.