"It’s just been announced that this year, there will be no WCT event and no WQS event at Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay. Full stop. While Billabong’s Chad D’Arcy has said there’s serious discussion to bring the event back in 2014, locals won’t lose a day during peak season in 2013. The town, howevs, stands to lose an estimated 15 to 20 million rand in potential revenue. There’s been a whole lot of history-book moments at this event, which is something we’re gonna miss. But as we drive past this year, let’s squint at the sunset in the rearview mirror and remember some of the more engaging things we’ve seen in J-Bay’s pro career.
By Craig Jarvis
1. Joel Parkinson’s rookie win in 1999. Who didn’t scream as 18-year-old Parko carved those corduroy walls with style and effortless cool? It was a shock victory that made Joel a very popular surfer in South Africa and the rest of the world, from which he carried the momentum through to his next J-Bay event win in 2009, and his world title in 2012. Yes, he kept it going for over a decade.
3. In 2012 Nathan Hedge arrived looking fit and healthy, and ready to win heats. He subsequently revealed that he had just come out of a successful stint in rehab for a drinking problem and was ready to take on the world again. He showed form in J-Bay with an amazing 10-point ride followed by an equally remarkable scrotum-grab claim (both hands). When Stab interviewed him on the beach a few minutes after his heat and asked him to talk about the 10-point ride, Hedgey couldn’t remember it, which might have something to do with the crippling affects of alcohol abuse. Or, the euphoria of grabbing a 10.
5. Bobby Martinez’s 10-point backhand barrel in 2008. Prior to meltdown, prior to tennis tour metaphors and prior to poverty, Bobby was a bald but happy and smiling man on the pro tour who loved surfing perfect waves, either backhand or forehand. This wave was tricky but the notorious devil wind that was blowing up the point blew straight into the tube and kept it open all the way for Bobby to escape.
7. Shark spottings.Taj Burrow spotted a shark in the contest in 2003 and was totally spooked, and Mick Lowe saw his own in 2007. “I saw a shark,” Lowe said. “Phil (McDonald) caught a wave and while the wave was feathering across from Boneyards, I saw it. It did a U-turn to head back and it was no dolphin, it had a girth on it. I saw its white belly and I’ve never seen one before, but I’ve seen them on the TV and that’s exactly what it looked like.” Immediately afterwards the ASP introduced a new rule in that if you see a shark in your heat you have to wave your hands in the air and paddle in. For real. It’s documented.
9. The Nemesis. Sean Holmes had Andy Irons’ number at J-Bay, and they always drew each other early in the contest. In 2010 The Nemesis went a step further and eliminated first Kelly Slater and then Andy Irons, two surfers with 12 world titles between them at the time. Sean instantly became the most dangerous wild card with an earring in the world.
10. Commentary. The combination of Luke Egan and Joe Turpel on webcasting duties along with GT doing the beach interviews in 2010. It’s not such a good memory, this one. It was a mesmeric combination of droning voices and leather-gloved vaudeville as the dreaded triumvirate pushed out all media aspects of the event to a hateful, chagrinned world. Good surfing though. A few sick airs and stuff.