Previewing the ASP J-Bay Open
After taking a hiatus from the ASP World Tour schedule for the past couple of years, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, is back on the schedule and the surfers couldn't be more stoked. The J-Bay power broker, Jordy Smith, won the past two world tour contests there, and arguably has surfed it better than anybody in recent years. Hungry for a win, and some recognition, he'll be looking to shake things up and notch a third win, but the field is stacked and it's no cakewalk to the top.
Spending the past month in Fiji, Kelly Slater may have logged more water time than anybody on tour recently. Spurred by his uncharacteristic stumble in Fiji (which resulted in him relinquishing his No. 1 ranking), Slater looks at J-Bay as a chance to get back the ASP pole position and prove any would-be doubters wrong. If there's one thing we know about Slater, it's that he loves a good challenge.
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
After not making it onto the schedule for the past couple of years, J-Bay is back and everyone's stoked. "When I got the news that Jeffreys was returning to the schedule this season, I basically ran around my house screaming for 30 minutes," Jordy Smith said.
Joel Parkinson's surfing was built for J-Bay. You won't find a prettier surfer in the water this week. Like surfing his native Kirra, he knows how to thread the barrel and stitch together unique, eye-pleasing combinations of maneuvers. Parko's an obvious pick to potentially win it.
Michel Bourez briefly held the No. 1 ranking on tour in Fiji, but was quickly passed by Gabriel Medina by contest's end. But going into J-Bay, the smart money may be on Bourez to bounce back in a big way. The open face carves and down the line snaps suit his powerful approach perfectly. This is an event he could easily win, and top the ASP ratings in the process.
John John Florence
With limited experience at J-Bay, it's hard to say how John John Florence will fare. There's no question the talent's there, and after a good result in Fiji, he has some momentum. But the South African point break calls for a well-planned, well-honed line, and that may be a challenge for JJF.
It's been an up-and-down year for the three-time world champ, but Mick Fanning loves the J-Bay line and has used it to great effect in years prior. After disappointment in Fiji, he'll be focused and ready to go. He's one of the best on tour here, which spells trouble for the youngsters he'll face in the early rounds.
Adriano De Souza
Always feared, always dangerous, Adriano De Souza won the previous WQS contest at J-Bay, and given his affinity for powerful forehand surfing, he could do some major damage this year.
Besides obvious picks like Gabriel Medina and Florence, Sea Bass is one of the young guard that could be dangerous in South Africa. His free-flowing style fits the wave, but his love of catching a million waves in a heat could be his downfall. Either way, he'll be fun to watch.