WHAT a weekend in surfing it has been. Out of nowhere, our sole South African on the Championship Tour, Jordy Smith found himself in the mix for his first world title at the age of 28.
It started in dramatic fashion when he came from behind in his Round 4 heat at the MEO Rip Curl Pro – the penultimate event on the WSL Championship Tour – to scoop a high-scoring wave that elevated him directly into the quarter-finals.
That single fact was not that interesting but what was significant was once the event had reached the semi- final stage, all contenders – from Brazilian Gabriel Medina to American Kolohe Andino – were out of the title race.
Only the Js remained: Jordy and John John Florence, who had won their one-on-one clashes in the quarters.
The plucky grit from Jordy was laudable. After pulling off that wave in the dying seconds of Round 4, his quarter-final heat was even more dramatic.
Again he left it late, holding on with steely patience until the right wave came with minutes remaining.
He hooked a ridiculously deep tube ride against Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz that gave him the first 10-point score of the event.
Zietz was comfortably in the lead at that stage but as he paddled back out after a small tube, he had to watch the big South African pull in fast and deep into a long barrel, only to get spat out the other end.
The maths became super simple, even I could understand it.
If Florence made the final, Smith was going to be the only surfer in the world who could send the title race to Hawaii – to the last event, the Billabong Pipeline Pro. But Jordy had to win the event.
That made the live stream quite exciting. Many South African surfers all over the country were screaming their heads off as Jordy took on rookie Conner Coffin of the USA, in the semi-finals.
Sadly, our World No 3 couldn’t match Coffin despite some excellent surfing in the Supertubos barrels.
But the drama was not over. It may have ended his world title aspirations, but it delivered the world title to John John.
The beach erupted in rap- turous celebration. John John had won the 2016 title, rendering Pipeline a damp squib in terms of the title race. The result there does not matter now.
It was the first time a Hawaiian had held the world surfing crown since the late Andy Irons in 2004.
Jordy was happy enough. “I would have loved to go to Hawaii to fight for the title but I’ll take it,” he said.
Next stop is the Billabong Pipe Masters held in Memory of Irons from December 8-20. It will still be worth watching though. Pipeline always delivers.
And for Jordy and his fans, there’s always next year.
THE # CrankChaos Maluti MTB festival takes place this weekend.
It’s about time we began to emulate the off-season ski resorts for mountain biking. Afriski resort is hosting a high-octane jol that includes five downhill lines, an enduro, XC marathon, slope-style riding, cross-country, downhill eliminator, plus outrides for the more social riders, all across the extensive trail network.
And the cool thing is that riders can hook up to the T-Bar Lift for a 200m vertical climb, and at the top, choose from a myriad of bike tracks to get down again. Sounds like lank fun! For more info: http:// www.crankchaos.com
THE annual Kommetjie Boardswap takes place today at Kommetjie Primary between 3pm-9pm.
There will be bands, beer, food, surf art, karaoke, kids activities, giveaways and a bunch of cool surf and skate movies.
Bring a board to swop. The event has a legacy of raising funds to enable Cape Town surfers to chase their dreams.
This year, KBS is backing Chris Bertish, who will soon be paddling across the Atlan- tic Ocean on a SUP. # TheSUPCrossing
FRESH southerly winds blow today with a hint of SW in them, so not ideal for both sides of the coast. There is a 4-5’ west swell running, and certain lefthand breaks may have a few waves. Otherwise Muizenberg looks onshore and small and mushy. Tomorrow, the winds are lighter, but still from the south, and now a big 6-8’ south swell will mean lots of surf in False Bay 3-4’ but again, moderate onshore breezes there. Other side has a few at protected spots despite the bad swell direction.
CHAMP STYLES: John John Florence whips his way to the world title at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.