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Debut Hawaii win for Jordy Smith

Jordy

South Africa’s Jordy Smith 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 (Puerto Rico), Torrey Meister (Hawaii) 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 in 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’ 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. Port Shepstone’s Heather Clark 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 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 in-form 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.’
Meanwhile, Cape Town’s Michael February, 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.

Image: WSL/Cestari


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