COOLANGATTA, Queensland/Australia (Friday 5 March, 2010) – South Africa’s Jordy Smith finished runner-up to Taj Burrow (AUS) in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover at Snapper Rocks in Australia today, posting the best result of his blossoming career as a professional surfer and starting his third year on the ASP World Tour ranked No. 2 in the world.
Smith, who went on a giant-killing spree at the event, eliminating former nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 38, and ASP No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) yesterday before comprehensively defeating fellow new-school ripper and nemesis Dane Reynolds (USA) for the first time in today’s semifinal to reach his first final.
“It’s my first Final so I’m pretty stoked,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunate that the waves went kind of dead in our heat there, but we tried our best. It’s been a great event though and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Long touted as a potential ASP World Champion, Smith has steadily improved his ranking, finishing his rookie year No. 25 before ending 2009 rated No. 11, and on the evidence of this event’s performance the powerful natural-footer is certainly an ASP World Title contender in 2010.
“I just feel a lot more comfortable with myself this season,” Smith said. “I’m having a lot more fun with my surfing and everything seems to be coming together for me. I’m amped with a Runner-Up finish here and hope I can keep the momentum up for the rest of the season.”
Burrow, who has secured victories in the previous two events he entered (Pipeline in December and Burleigh Heads in February), has been in sensational form over the past three months and used all of his experience to overcome Smith in the deteriorating one metre waves, despite the South African leading for the first half of the 40 minute final.
“I didn’t feel like I surfed my best in the Final,” Burrow said. “I kind of just did what it took to win. I just waited for the best waves, did a couple nice turns – nothing too wild. I’d rather have taken Jordy’s approach – catch lots of waves and just let loose. That’s kind of my strategy normally. Being a bit more patient and selective than usual definitely paid off. But I knew Jordy could unleash and get the big score any moment.”
The 31 year-old from Western Australia burst onto the world stage in 1997 when he qualified for the ASP World Tour but famously turned the opportunity down as he was too young. He made his debut in 1998 and went on to finish runner-up for the title the next year, a ranking he repeated in 2007. With a total of seven Top 5 finishes in his 12 years on the tour, Burrow will look to continue the momentum in 2010 as he hunts down his first ASP World Title.
“What can I say? I don’t know,” Burrow said. “I surprised myself really. Obviously, Pipe was the biggest event I could ever win. I was just overwhelmed. I felt like retiring after that event. I just couldn’t believe it, and didn’t think it could get any better. I guess I’ve taken the confidence from it and worked on some good boards. Burleigh Heads was a good warm-up. I felt good that there as well – there are fun little rights, and then here, I took a while to get rolling, but I just built up momentum. I felt great out there and here I am on the podium again – it just feels unbelievable.”
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast was the first event in ASP history where all four semifinalists had failed to win their opening heats in the traditional World Tour format. Only 22% of all events using three-man heats in Round 1 have been won by a surfer having to contest Round 2.
Dane Reynolds (USA), 24, looked the form surfer of the event yesterday, defeating defending event winner Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, with an impressive 19.20 out of a possible 20. However, the young Californian was unable to find a rhythm in today’s challenging conditions, bowing out of the event with an Equal 3rd at the hands of Smith.
“I felt pretty good yesterday and it felt like my equipment was finally working,” Reynolds said. “Even though the conditions weren’t as good today, I thought I could catch an average wave and surf it well enough to get a good score, but that didn’t happen. When the other guy gets a good roll going, it’s hard to come back – or it is for me anyway.”
Bobby Martinez (USA), 27, matched his best result on the Gold Coast today, collecting an Equal 3rd (his first came in 2006), but the sole goofy-footer in today’s event was clearly upset about the deteriorated conditions.
“It’s disappointing to finish when it’s windy like this,” Martinez said. “We all want to surf when it’s glassy, and I’m disappointed that we have to finish today. I did my best to mix it up out there, but it’s very challenging out there on your backhand today.”
Highlights from the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover can be found via www.quiksilverpro.com.au
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.57
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.56
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.67 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 13.00
SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.30 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.96
ASP WORLD TOUR TOP 5 (After Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast):
1 – Taj Burrow (AUS) 10000 pts
2 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 8000 pts
3 – Bobby Martinez (USA) 6500 pts
3 – Dane Reynolds (USA) 6500 pts
5 – Joel Parkinson (AUS) 5250 pts
5 – Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5250 pts
5 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5250 pts
5 – Kai Otton (AUS) 5250 pts
Pictured: Jordy Smith (Durban, South Africa) used his full repertoire of progressive manoeuvres to reach his first ASP World Tour final at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia today. Smith finished runner-up to Taj Burrow (AUS) and is now ranked No. 2 in the world
Image Credit: © ASP/ Kirstin Scholtz
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