Leading South African surfer Jordy Smith will take on Jadson Andre (BRA) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) in his first competitive heat of the year when the 2021 WSL (World Surf League) Championship Tour starts with the 50th edition of the Billabong Pipe Masters on Oahu, Hawaii.
The event window runs to 20 December and this is the first time that the iconic Banzai Pipeline (usually a World Title-deciding venue) will play host to a season-opening event.
In an innovative new Tour format, the 2021 men’s and women’s World Titles will be decided in a single-day competition, where the top five men and top five women ranked during the CT season will battle for their respective titles in a surf-off format at Lower Trestles, USA in September. For Smith and his contemporaries, the journey to that final starts in Hawaii.
Smith is no stranger to Hawaiian shores, having taken third place at the prestigious event in 2018. Smith was also in Hawaii earlier this year honing his backhand tube-riding skills in preparation for the event before the world went info lockdown. Upon returning to South Africa, he was only allowed to get back to surfing when the country entered into lockdown level 2, but he was able to spend a lot of time with family and recently welcomed baby boy, Ziggy, with wife Lyndall.
When asked what he was looking forward to most now that the world tour is resuming once again, Smith said: ‘I’m looking forward mostly to some level of normality again and getting back into peak condition. My preparation was going well before lockdown and I would like to get back to where I left off.’
While home in South Africa for the winter the first time in 10 years Smith connected with his friend and free-surfing style master, Mikey February. The two loaded up their boards and hit the road, cruising the coast, starting in Smith’s hometown of Durban and finishing up in cold Cape Town waters. Their adventures were documented in ‘Shaping Jordy’ and the film features some of their favourite spots as well as the breaks that shaped Smith’s signature style.
The WSL Championship Tour will continue with the Sunset Open, Hawaii in January 2021 and then onto the Santa Cruz Pro in California, USA. South Africa is also featuring in next year’s Tour line up with the Corona Open J-Bay from 25 June to 9 July.