Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay 2010: Off To South Africa
With seven events to go, anything is possible in this year's ASP World Tour. However, Pro Jeffreys Bay will be a huge factor in deciding which surfers will make it past the mid-point cutoffs.
As the ASP World Tour nears the mid-year field reduction, the competition is getting fierce and everyone is fighting for a place in the Top 32.
Mick Fanning, currently in the ASP World No. 4 spot, and former two-time winner of the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay, is looking to pick up his game in South Africa and challenge Kelly Slater for the No.1 ratings spot.
“This time last year, I was in fourth position so it's early days,” Fanning said. “I'll approach the remainder of the year as if the race is still wide open, which it is. Kelly's had two solid results so hopefully I can narrow the gap with a strong finish at J-Bay.”
Most of the top seeds cannot help worrying about the title-hungry rookies who will attempt anything to avoid a mid-year elimination. Jeffreys Bay will be the last opportunity for many of them to sneak over the line and remain as part of the Top 32.
“There's definitely been a more aggressive approach from the lower seeds this year and you can't go into any heat holding back.” Fanning said. “With the cut off approaching I'd say we're going to see even more desperation.”
Jordy Smith, current ASP World No. 2, is having a career-best start in 2010, collecting a Runner-Up finish on the Gold Coast before Equal 5ths at Bells and in Brazil.
“I think the main thing I’ve done differently is probably just the fact that I’ve been more relaxed going into heats," explained Smith. "I’m just going out there and surfing and having fun.”
Clearly a risk at Jeffreys Bay, Smith has arguably more experienced than any of the Top 45 at this location.
“The Billabong contest at J-Bay is definitely one of my favorites,” Smith said. “To be in front of my home crowd and get to surf J-Bay with only three guys out, I couldn’t ask for much more. I’ve been going there since I was 7-years old. It’s a really fast righthand pointbreak which I love, and it has incredible barrel sections.”
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, 2009 ASP World Runner-Up and current ASP World No. 8, hasn’t enjoyed the same juggernaut start in 2010 as he did last season, but the stylish natural-footer is positive heading into the Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay.
“Eighth place right now is inconsequential,” Parkinson said. “There’s over two-thirds of the season left to run, and if I surf well and surf well consistently, then I will be moving up the ratings. Whoever’s in front of me is irrelevant.”
The Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay will begin on Friday, July 15 and run through July 25, 2010.
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