NORTH SHORE, Oahu, Hawaii
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban), won the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach to claim his first victory in Hawaiian waves on Sunday. The 28-year-old Durbanite triumphed in a stacked final that included Frederico Morais (PRT), Torrey Meister (HAW) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA).
“Unbelievable, can’t believe it,” said Smith. “I feel like this event has eluded me in the past. I didn’t have any expectations coming in this year, I think that was the difference. I just kind of went out there with an open mind. Thanks to everyone who supported me.”
The final Qualifying Series (QS) of the year and one of only five 10,000 rated events in 2016, the Vans World Cup marks Smith’s second competitive victory this year, his first a Championship Tour (CT) win at the Hurley Pro at Trestles in September. But despite reaching the final at Sunset twice in the past, a win in Hawaii has eluded him since he began competing professionally.
“Early in my career I made a couple finals out here, I really had something going with the place,” continued Smith. “I don’t know, it’s been like six or seven years where I just couldn’t do a thing right. And then, everything just came together this year so I’m just really happy.”
The victory sees Smith, ranked No. 3 on the CT, leapfrog into third place on the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings going into the final event at Pipeline which starts on Thursday. The South African is 5,900 points behind Morais, who finished second in both the first event at Haleiwa and at Sunset, and just 200 points behind recently crowned 2016 WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) who won at Haleiwa.
Smith, who was crowned the Triple Crown ‘Rookie of the Year’ in back in 2009, says he has been ‘camping out’ at Pipeline this year in a determined effort to improve on his mediocre previous results in the season-ending CT event. He is bidding to become the first South African man to clinch the Triple Crown, an accolade second only to a World Title in prestige. Heather Clark (ZAF, Port Shepstone) is the only previous SA winner, clinching the Women’s Triple Crown title in 2000.
Gudauskas opened the final at Sunset with two waves before Smith answered back with a super smooth 6.33 on an open face and demonstrated his tactful rail game and signature carves. Morais dropped the first score of significance to take the lead, an 8.23 for a searing carve and a layback snap on the inside section. Meister, the most inform Hawaiian in the event, went vertical on his first wave for a 4.77, but drama unfolded after Jordy secured an 8.73 – the highest single ride score of the 35 minute encounter – to take a lead that his opponents ultimately could not match.
“He always fits this wave really well,” Meister said of Smith after the awards ceremony. “He’s one of the best guys out here. Just his hacks, he’s got probably the best hack in the business. He really suits this wave and he’s really powerful.”
With a place among the world’s top 34 ranked surfers on the 2017 Championship Tour on the line, along with the several of the current top 34 in action, there was drama in virtually every heat on the final day.
Jadson Andre (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS) and secured eighth and 10th positions on the year-end QS rankings, and re-qualified for another season the CT when they reached the semi-finals. Morais steadily pacing himself throughout the event, made few mistakes and jumped up to the No. 3 slot after his runner up finish.
Athletes listed in order of 1st through 10th on the QS (* indicates Rookie CT campaign): *Connor O’Leary (AUS), *Ethan Ewing (AUS), *Frederico Morais (PRT), Joan Duru (FRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), *Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), *Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS). Ethan Ewing (AUS) secured the coveted Vans Triple Crown Rookie Award.
Michael February (ZAF, Cape Town), the only other South African in the Vans World Cup, posted his first heat win at Sunset Beach last Wednesday. The lanky Capetonian advanced to Round 3 after taking the runner-up spot in his next heat and finished 33rd overall. He earned 1,100 points, his second best haul of the season, to end the year ranked No. 53 and guaranteed of a slot in all the major 6,000 and 10,000 rated QS events next year.
For more plus video footage of every wave ridden during the Vans World Cup visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com
The eyes of the surfing world will now be firmly fixed on Pipeline, a mile to the West of Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, where the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons – the final event of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour and last gem of the Vans Triple Crown – takes place from December 8 – 20.
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th
1st – Jordy Smith (ZAF), 10000 points
2nd – Frederico Morais (PRT), 8000 points
3rd – Torrey Meister (HAW), 6700 points
4th – Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 6300 points
Semifinals, 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 5th place, 4th = 7th place
SF1: Frederico Morais (PRT), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
SF2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Torrey Meister (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Quarterfinals, 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 9th place, 4th = 13th place
QF1: Frederico Morais (PRT), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Deivid Silva (BRA), Koa Smith (HAW)
QF2: Jack Freestone (AUS), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
QF3: Torrey Meister (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Ian Crane (USA)
QF4: Jordy Smith (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Round of 32 – 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 17th place, 4th = 25th place
H1: Deivid Silva (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
H2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZAL), Adriano De Souza (BRA)
H3: Billy Kemper (HAW), Frederico Morais (PRT), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS)
H4: Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Koa Smith (HAW), John John Florence, Marc Lacomare (FRA)
H5: Torrey Meister (HAW), Ethan Ewing (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA)
H6: Kelly Slater (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), O’Neill Massin (PFY), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
H7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Ian Crane (USA), Adam Melling (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
H8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Eli Olson