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Smith ‘boxes’ clever to reach Round Three Down Under
- Updated: April 16, 2015
South African Jordy Smith (Durban) won his opening heat and advanced directly to Round Three at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the third stop on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) in Western Australia on Wednesday.
Huge waves reaching five metres at times greeted the world’s best surfers and the opening seven heats of Men’s Round One saw the world’s best surfers tackling The Box, one of the world’s most challenging and infamous hollow waves.
Smith, No5 in the WSL rankings coming into the event, was selective in his approach to waves at The Box in the second heat of the day, pulling into a couple of tube rides and finishing ahead of Jadson Andre (BRA) and Brett Simpson (USA) in a low-scoring 30-minute match-up.
‘You have the possibility of breaking your board and hurting yourself out there,’ said Smith in his post-heat interview. ‘So if you feel like you might not make it, you’ve still got to go. But if you definitely won’t make it – then you don’t go.’
Hawaii’s John John Florence, who won the Margaret River Qualifying Series event in 2012, opened the day’s competition with a 7.83 for his first wave. Florence threw himself over the ledge and demonstrated his skill and commitment to take a convincing Round One heat win. Despite some big wipe-outs Florence maintained his charging attitude to secure his place in Round Three, easily defeating Wiggolly Dantas (Bra) and Dusty Payne (Haw).
‘When we got down here this morning we saw some really good waves,’ said Florence. ‘There’s an end step, which makes it really challenging. It’s hard to pick the right waves and it’s really gnarly if you don’t. It’s definitely scary but I’m so stoked because it’s fun to surf some clean, bigger waves and amazing to get barrelled at The Box.’
Kelly Slater (USA), the 11-time World Champion, won his heat comfortably by charging fearlessly on multiple waves. Despite relatively low scores, with just a 4.50 and a 3.70 (each out of a possible 10), Slater delivered some amazing surfing in waves of consequence, putting himself on the line. Slater defeated Kai Otton (AUS) and rookie Ricardo Christie (NZL) who will surf again in elimination Round 2.
‘It’s fun and exciting out here today,’ Slater said. ‘I didn’t come out for an early surf and when John John (Florence) came in after his heat he said it was gnarly so I was excited. I fell on those two waves and if I watch the highlights I’m going to watch the ones I fell on, those were insane.’
The big wave conditions look set to continue and Surfline, official forecaster for the WSL, is predicting very solid SW groundswell to continue on Thursday, easing through Friday. Another exceptionally strong SSW groundswell is on track for Saturday, and could be even larger than the surf for Wednesday/Thursday.
Picture of Smith in action on Wedneday, courtesy of WSL/Cestari