“Oh man it is not easy out there with the cold and the paddle, no jet-ski assist, massive paddle, freezing, but man, the waves are insane!” said Kekoa Bacalso, Hawaii.
A late start, but off at last, the Billabong Pro is starting its second day today. The waves at the legendary South African pointbreak yesterday were clean three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) and the world’s best surfers reveled in the opening day of competition.
Event No. 5 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay chose to make the most of the conditions on offer, opting to run the new competition format of man-on-man elimination matches from the outset, completing 18 heats of competition, highlighted with some incendiary performances.
“We’re sending Curren and Occy out there right now for the Clash of the Icons, starting around 7:15am and then we’ll be straight into Round 2,” said Mike Parsons, Billabong Pro Contest Director, when explaining why they had decided to go with the new format. “We’ve got some nice waves this morning, but the consistency isn’t quite there to call on the dual-heat system for now. We’ll monitor conditions and if it seems viable, we’ll pull the trigger.”
This video of the 2008 highlights (billabongbrasil) is the sort of wave the competition are hoping they will get before time runs out:
However, in the meantime, this competition has begun and so has the fun.
The world’s 45 highest ranked surfers, including 8X World Champion and current run-away ratings leader Kelly Slater (Florida), reigning World Champion Mick Fanning, defending event champion Taj Burrow (AUS) and former 3X World Champion Andy Irons (Hawaii) are all here.
Also in Jeffreys Bay are a whole panel of A-list surf journalists, photographers and videographers documenting, for national and global distribution, TV footage of each day’s action, saturating websites (including ours!) and webcasts worldwide with live video images and scoring accompanied by expert commentary in English, Spanish. Portuguese and French.
Although the waves were not memorable yesterday, rookie Nic Muscroft, who progressed to the second round after downing compatriot Josh Kerr in their Round 1 bout, had this to say: “It’s still a pretty challenging wave here though, especially with the sand build-up at the moment. It’s really fast.”
Heath Joske and South African veteran Sean Holmes are the only two wildcards through to the second round.
The forecast for the next three days … hmmm, not increasing it seems: