Joel Parkinson wasn't in South Africa this year for the J-Bay event. There was no 'Clash of the Icons,' and Mark Occhilupo had family commitments back home. Even the surf lacked that dreamy J-Bay magic today.
Brazilian Adriano de Souza won the 6-star Billabong Pro at J-Bay today in onshore surf. But a win is a win. De Souza has a knack for getting the job done and you can't take anything away from his 16-13.60 final over Joan Duru of France. And realistically, despite frigid winter rain and wind, this iconic break produced rights today that were still better than plenty of events around the world. And let's not forget that earlier in the week, Supertubes was everything that it's name implies allowing for five perfect 10's.
De Souza claimed the first scoring wave, but Duru, on his backhand, landed a monster floater with a series of violent hacks to post a 9.27 in the disjointed sections. Duru was persistent, but the crumbles got the best of him. De Souza was able to make a comeback with a mix of frontside fins-free and powerful surfing for an 8.33. He added a little switch stance ride with claim just to show he's not a robot.
"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."
De Souza had to beat Ezekiel Lau in the semis and Mitch Coleborn in the quarters, two surfers who enjoyed some of their best ever results, Duru proved to be the real lion killer this year, as he beat South African Jordy Smith handily in the round of 16, after Smith won this event as a World Tour stop the last two years.
Earlier this week, we had a chance to talk to Smith about the loss of J-Bay from the elite schedule.
"Winning there has been a life dream -- every kid has a spot they want to win and it's usually your home spot. We have been making the trips to J-Bay my whole life, so that was really a dream come true," said Smith, "I think everyone is bummed that the top guys are not competing in South Africa -- at what's considered one of the best waves on tour."
On the flip side, however, there were 22 South Africans who get to surf this event, 19 of whom would have been watching from the beach (or the couch) if this were still a World Tour event.
"It is really cool to see the young locals getting a crack at J-Bay," he admitted, "And the event at Ballito being a Prime is huge for that region. The attitude was great around the event all week."
After the Volcom Fiji Pro, Smith dropped one slot to No. 8, not exactly where he wants to be as the title race starts shaping up.
"I feel any event is up for grabs, I think any guy on the World Tour can win any event. The level is really high at the moment," Smith added.
De Souza, meanwhile, is in the No. 4 spot. The Billabong Pro South Africa obviously won't help that, but it does give him confidence going into the US Open.
Nixon's special $10,000 bling-ed out 51-30 tide watch went to Australian Nathan Hedge, the 2005 Billabong Pro J-Bay finalist for his 19.27 highest heat in round one.2012 Billabong Pro J-Bay Results
1. Adriano de Souza BRA 16
2. Joan Duru FRA 13.60
Adrian de Souza BRA 15, Ezekiel Lau 5.57
Joan Duri BRA 14.93, Aritz Aranburu EUK