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SA’s Smith ends second on world rankings

South Africa’s Jordy Smith has ended No2 on the 2016 Jeep Rankings after reaching the quarter-finals of the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT) at Pipeline in Hawaii this week.

Smith’s fifth place finish in the event earned the Durbanite 5,200 points, sufficient to overtake 2014 WSL champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), but still well short of John John Florence (HAW) who clinched his maiden world title at the penultimate event of the season in Portugal in October.

Smith, who was granted a wildcard into the 2016 CT season after an injury-wracked 2015, won the event at Trestles in California, finished runner-up at Bells Beach, third in Portugal and fifth at Jeffreys Bay and Pipeline to match his previous best yearend result of runner-up to Kelly Slater (USA) in 2010.

The first event victory of his career in Hawaii at the QS10,000 rated World Cup at Sunset Beach two weeks ago, combined with a 25th place in the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and fifth at Pipeline also earned Smith the runner-up spot behind Florence in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings.

Smith started the final day in hollow one to two metre waves at Pipeline by defeating Alex Ribeiro (BRA) in Round 3 before finishing second behind rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Round 4. After narrowly defeating Nat Young (USA) with an excellent last minute ride in Round 5, Smith posted a heat total of 15.74 (out of 20) in the quarter-final but could not overcome Igarashi’s 18.03 which included a near perfect 9.93 point score for arguably the longest tube ride of the day.

‘We come here to get barreled and that’s what happened,’ Smith said after his quarter-final loss. ‘He [Kanoa Igarashi] just got more barreled than I did. I think it just came down to that one last score. I gave him that wave on the inside that apparently just kept funneling across. The wave looked very small to me when I paddled in, but apparently he got nice and deep.’

‘To be honest, all around it has been an amazing year for me. This time last year I did not expect to be here as I’d just came fresh off an injury. To finish the year in second is amazing.’

Michel Bourez (PYF) won the Billabong Pipe Masters after defeating Igarashi in the final, his best result of the season and only the second time that the Tahitian made it into the final series (last eight) this year. Victory also marks the third CT victory of his career and earned Bourez 10,000 points which sees him finish the 2016 season in 6th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.

In his first Pipe Masters appearance, Igarashi has set the bar for the 2017 rookies. At 19-years-old, Igarashi is the youngest competitor on the CT and made a splash this season. His runner-up finish marks Igarashi’s best result this year after a run of 13th place finishes on tour and ninth at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Igarashi took down 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Smith before facing Bourez in the Final. Igarashi moves up to 20th on the rankings.

The world’s best surfers will return in 2017 with the kick-off event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.

Image: WSL/Poullenot


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