A few days after returning from our Mozambique Surf Expedition we were off to Jeffreys Bay for the return of the JBay Open!
Many of the world’s top surfers rate Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, as one of the best right hand point-breaks in the world! From 1996 to 2011 the JBay Billabong Pro was part of the elite Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour, also known as the Dream Tour.
The ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) is a series of surfing competitions held annually all over the planet. Surfers qualify for the tour by surfing events on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS)
The world’s top 34 surfers travel the planet on the WCT and surf perfect waves to determine ASP Surfing World Champion, hence the name ‘Dream Tour’, because, let’s be honest, could you imagine a better job?
However, amid financial crises the JBay Billabong Pro was downgraded from a WCT to WQS event in 2012, and then, in 2013, the event was completely cancelled.
So it was great to hear that the ASP World Championship Tour, with new sponsors on board, would return to Jeffreys Bay in 2014, giving South Africans the opportunity to again witness the world’s best surfers at Supertubes!
The other really cool thing about the ASP World Tour, and professional surfing in general, is that there are no entry fees, the beach is open to anyone and everyone and, despite the world’s best surfers being there, including 11 time World Champion Kelly Slater, the atmosphere is relaxed and cool.
Unlike most other professional sporting events in the world, on the WCT the world’s best surfers mingle with the crowd as if they were just like the rest of us! And essentially they are! They’re just like us! They enjoy surfing and they love riding waves!
In between competition, while the main event was on hold, I went for a few quick surf sessions myself, including a nice session at Supertubes, the main contest arena! I surfed with three of the world’s best surfers, including John John Florence.
All these pros were there to compete in the JBay Open, and they were surfing for their careers on the ASP WCT Tour. But regardless of the contest pressure, we surfed together, exchanged waves and smiled after having a good ride, as if there was nothing else to do!
In the world of professional sport, with World Champions, celebrity athletes, million-dollar prizes and multi million-dollar sponsorships, in which other sport could you imagine quickly strolling onto the pitch at half-time and playing a quick round with the best athletes in the world?
There are also plenty other surf spots in the area. Seal Point, Cape St Francis, is a great example, with perfectly peeling right-handers rolling down the point. We were lucky to score some great waves there while the JBay Open was on hold.
The JBay Open got off to a good start on the 10th of July 2014, the first day of the 11 day waiting period. (WCT Events require 3 – 4 days of surfing, but all WCT events are scheduled over waiting periods so that event organisers can select those days with only the best waves on offer!)
The swell dropped after the first few days, but fortunately, on the second last day of the waiting period, mother nature sent us pumping swell! Supertubes was cooking, with 8 ft sets, long walls, plenty barrels and awesome surfing action!
The final was an all Australian affair with Mick Fanning (ASP World Champion 2007, 2009 and 2013) defeating Joel Parkinson (ASP World Champion 2012)
The next stop on the ASP WCT is the Billabong Pro in Tahiti, from August 15 to 26. All ASP WCT events are streamed live online at www.aspworldtour.com and can be watched free of charge!
Check out some of the highlights from the final day of surfing at the JBay Open for some incredible action!
Yours in surfing