JBay WinterFest press release:
Lower Point is arguably one of the most user-friendly and consistent waves in the Eastern Cape. Competent surfers may refer to it as ‘an easy wave,’ don’t be fooled though, while often overshadowed by it’s more famous neighbour, Supertubes (where the world’s best are currently battling it out for the JBay Open title), it can produce some serious power. Depending on the sand build-up in the reef (it breaks over a combination of sand and rock) it offers long right-hand walls punctuated by steep, carve-able sections and, on just the right tide, barrels too. Two days after a spring tide, the 12 competitors at the Oakley X-Over were greeted with a draining tide, light offshore south-westerly winds and beautiful two to three foot waves. Classic J-Bay conditions, really.
“There are a bunch of really good waves out there,” commented World Tour competitor Jordy Smith. “It’s a perfect day for everyone to come down and have a go at surfing.”
Not everyone was as excited with a few nervous faces visible as some bigger set waves rolled down the point. There was a very experienced driver on a jet ski to help the riders get out to the back line and assist them should anything go wrong though, so everyone was in safe hands.
The format saw three four-man heats, with the top two from each advancing to the final. Top two waves counting as per normal, but in terms of drop-ins and interference calls it was all pretty much fair game.
“I want to know if that can count as the first ten minutes of my 30-minute heat,” commented John Smit after squeezing his front-row frame into a wetsuit for the first time in more than a decade. “I’m terrified,” Smit joked. “It’s been 14-years since I last surfed. Board has dust on it in my garage… I went to Durban when I was 18 and the first thing any oke from Gauteng does it try to learn how to surf. First time you get up, you think, ‘cool I’m a surfer now’.
Kevin Evans – one of the athletes more than a bit concerned with the size – scored two long rides in his heat before calling it quits eight minutes before the end citing exhaustion in his arms. This left the door open for Bobby Skinstad who pounced, scoring a long running wave all the way to the inside to advance through to the final along with Greg Minnaar who impressed with his wave-riding prowess.
Raynard Tissink also surfed a consummate heat to advance to the final. “Hedgie (Ryan Sandes) is the dark horse, we all know Butch can surf and Bob has shown his talent out there. I’d be happy with a place here, bit out of my league.”
Ruan de Smidt who had never been close to a surfboard before managed to find a wave and actually stand up. Beaming afterwards he said: “No ways! Unreal… Too much fun!”
Ryan Sandes made use of his practice round earlier in the week and surfed well to finish second behind a very competitive Butch James. “Ryan Sandes has amazing technique – you can see his trail running style translate into his surfing,” said Jordy Smith.
“I was hoping to,” commented Ryan Sandes on making the final. “Back in the day I used to surf a little bit, but I went for a surf two days ago and got more urchins in my feet than waves ridden, so was a little bit nervous. For me though this has definitely been the most fun event so far.”
The results for the surfing event:
1. Jordy Smith, 2. Greg Minnaar, 3. Bob Skinstad, 4. Butch James, 5.Raynard Tissink, 6. Ryan Sandes.
The results for the Oakley x-Over Challenge
Consisted of 21k mountain bike ride, round of golf and the surf comp.
1. Butch James
2. Raynard Tissink
3. Greg Minnaar
4. Kevin Evans
5. Bob Skinstad
6. David Miller
7. Ryan Sandes/Ruan De Smidt (tied)
9. Jordy Smith/John Smit (tied)
11. Ryan O’Connor
12. Garreth ‘Soldier Boy’ McLellan
More WinterFest news here