JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa (Thursday, July 12, 2007) – Two of three Billabong Pro Jeffrey's Bay wildcards are through to Round 3 after surviving Round 2 elimination today – Foster's ASP World No. 2 Damien Hobgood (USA) was among the top seeds dispatched.
Hobgood lost to local JBay surfer Shaun Payne (ZAF) by less than a point – his 10.50 out of 20.00 point heat total trumped Payne's 11.33.
"I've probably got an advantage since JBay is my homebreak and I get to surf it whenever it's good," Payne said. "I guess that's why the South African wildcards always do so well."
Payne will meet World No. 1 Mick Fanning (AUS) in Round 3.
"Mick smoked me in my last heat," Payne said. "I fell a lot and got comboed but I'll give it another shot in Round 3."
Warwick Wright (ZAF) eliminated last year's world No. 8 in Tom Whitaker (AUS) today.
"Tommy is an unbelievable surfer," Wright said. "He was lucky and caught a couple waves, but I got all the good ones so I am super chuffed about it and we will see what happens in the next round."
Wright will meet in-form 3X Foster's ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) in the next round. Irons won last month's elite tour event in Chile and Wright was candid about his strategy against the current World No. 3.
"I don't know how to prepare for a heat like that," Wright said. "You've just got to find the best waves I suppose. These guys are the best you know and it is great to surf against them – I just hope I surf my best."
Taj Burrow (AUS) surfed his best and was awarded a perfect 10.00 score for his efforts against wildcard Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF). Burrow found four separate cover-up sections on a reeling right-hand wave to nab the score.
"It's pretty hard to get a 10.00 these days so you know that when you get one you have earned it, so I am stoked," Burrow said. "Damien had priority and he took the first one in the set but the second one looked dreamy and like it was going to line up for a pipe. Each little section was really nice and looked like it was getting hollower and hollower – I just snuck out the end."
Burrow was rated World No. 2 after winning the Foster's ASP World Tour event in Bells Beach in April, but dropped two spots to 4th after an early Round 3 exit in Chile last month. Burrow has finished World Title runner-up twice and is hyper aware of what it takes to go that next step.
"To be in contention for a world title every event from now on has to be a keeper for me," Burrow said. "I just want to make a win."
Neco Padaratz (BRA) scored a 9.33 on a deep barrel to advance through his first heat this year. The Brazilian was elated and indicated that he is eager to achieve results akin to those he posted prior to an elite tour suspension for performance enhancing drugs.
"I haven't got through a heat this year and am 44th at the moment," Padaratz said. "This has never happened in my life before, so I am getting a bit frustrated with myself. I left the tour here in 2005, and I think I am coming back to take my next step and this is it. This is a new start. Everything is getting back to normal."
The first six heats of Round 2 were completed this afternoon. Seven heats of Round 1 ran first prior to the second round action. Reigning world champion Kelly Slater (USA) advanced through the first heat of the day and had this to say on the now defunct rumors regarding his retirement after the last Foster's ASP World Tour event in Chile:
"I've been wanting to experiment with equipment and my mind has been elsewhere with a lot of things this year, so I really haven't had the focus I have had the last two years—maybe I will come around though, I am going to stick with it. I'm happy to be here in Jbay, Trestles has been a good event for me and I love going to France, so those are the next three. The last two years came my way and this year has been more of a struggle so far, but its fine – you've got to pay your dues."
Another call on competition status will be made tomorrow at 7am and with the current swell forecasted to hang around, competition could commence as early as 7:10.
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Today Round 1 Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay Results:
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.17, Warwick Wright (ZAF) 8.83, Chris Ward (USA) 5.20
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.66, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.50, Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 8.40
Heat 12: Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.57, Dayyan Neve (AUS) 11.10, Ricky Bassnett (ZAF) 8.43
Heat 13: Bruce Irons (HAW) 11.83, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 11.50, Victor Ribas (BRA) 9.77
Heat 14: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.67, Cory Lopez (USA) 11.93, Michael Lowe (AUS) 7.26
Heat 15: Royden Bryson (ZAF) 14.17, Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.30, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.87
Heat 16: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 13.16, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.83, Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 6.34