Smith Remains in Contention

Jordy Smith Remains in Contention after Narrow Round 2 Win at Corona Open J-Bay

The Corona Open J-Bay, stop No. 6 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), ran through the opening two heats of elimination Round 2 before competition was put on hold and eventually called off after the inconsistent one metre waves and crosswind conditions at Jeffreys Bay failed to improve.

Two-time event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) survived a tough Round 2 clash against fellow South African and trials winner Dale Staples (ZAF), avoiding early elimination by the narrowest of margins and advancing on to Round 3.

Current equal No.3 on the Jeep Leaderboard Jordy Smith of South Africa (pictured) advanced to Round Three of the Corona Open J-Bay after defeating friend, event wildcard and fellow South African Dale Staples in Heat 1 of Round Two at Supertubes, South Africa, today Sunday July 16, 2017. PHOTO: © WSL / Cestari SOCIAL : @wsl @kc80.

After posting the highest single-wave score of the match-up, Staples needed just a 4.17 to claim the heat win and a berth in Round 3. As time wound down he had the chance to cause a major upset on a small but perfectly shaped wave.

However the 26-year-old from nearby St Francis Bay looked undecided on whether to attack the wave and go for a big score or ride it conservatively and try to get the moderate score required. The result was an unconvincing 3.77 from the judges and Smith benefitted from the boxing adage that the challenger needs to knock the champion out rather than trying to rely on a points decision.

“It was definitely stressful out there and to be honest he (Staples) is probably the deadliest guy in the whole draw,” Smith said. “I was just really lucky because he didn’t quite get the score. I just wanted to get two waves out there. We didn’t have many sets but I’m just happy to get the job done. Even though we’re great friends, everyone wants to win. It sucks to come up against Dale in a heat but I’m sure he’ll get more opportunities.”

Staples, known for his hard-charging style, won the JBU Supertrials in booming overhead waves at Supertubes in June and was disappointed that the expected larger surf did not materialise.

“It’s always hard coming up against Jordy (Smith), one of my favourite surfers,” said Staples. “It would have been nice to have some better waves and put on a show for everyone. I just came a bit short at the end which is a bit of a bummer. It’s great to surf in good waves against the best surfers in the world – that’s the difference between the CT and QS. This just makes me more hungry to win.”

Current No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson (AUS) faced South African wildcard Michael February (Kommetjie) in Heat 2. February came out firing and held the advantage after the opening exchange with 7.00 to Wilkinson’s 6.17.

However, the Australian locked in a 6.93 for his second score while February’s second wave petered out in the Carpark section for a 4.67. With Wilkinson holding priority, the ocean went flat for the remaining eight minutes of the encounter.

“Mikey (February) has been surfing really good the past few days so I’m stoked to get the win,” Wilkinson said. “When the tide’s this high you’re so close to the reef so I’m happy to finish the heat intact and ready for Round 3.

Event wildcard Michael February of South Africa (pictured) finished equal 25th in the Corona Open J-Bay after placing second to current No.1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson of Australia in Heat 2 of Round Two at Supertubes, South Africa, today Sunday July 16, 2017. PHOTO: © WSL / Cestari SOCIAL : @wsl @kc80.

“This event would be unbelievable to win. I got a third out here when the waves were pumping (2014) so I know I can get big scores here when the waves are good. I guess I just have to beat Mick (Fanning) out here – he seems to be the one that takes the goofys out. The speed of the wave here makes it tricky to get points on your backhand, so you have to find a balance between speed and turns.”

As always, February was pragmatic about the defeat and the current No. 4 on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) rankings is looking ahead to the challenge of maintaining his position in the Top 10 and trying to qualify for a place on the 2018 Championship Tour (CT).

“It was really fun surfing against Matt (Wilkinson), but he’s number one for a reason,” said February. “Our heat was really fun at the beginning but then there weren’t too many sets. I’m still happy and I enjoyed it.

“This has been my best start to a year and that builds a lot of confidence. This wildcard was just a bonus, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. It’s really cool to have this event in South Africa and it really gives us the determination to try and qualify for the CT.”

WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow put the event on hold after Heat 2, before calling competition off for the day when conditions did not improve.

“Unfortunately that swell just hasn’t materialized and it’s still really inconsistent out there so we won’t run any more heats today,” said Perrow. “We’ll come back tomorrow morning and things are still look really promising. We’re excited to see what the next few days will bring for J-Bay.”

Event organisers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. local time to assess conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecaster for the Corona Open J-Bay, are calling for:

Surf will come up a notch on Sunday as another mid size SW to SSW swell fills in and breezy side to offshore wind prevails. Monday will see a temporary decreasing trend for the first half of the day as offshore flow likely continues. New SW to SSW swell looks likely to build over the later afternoon and evening hours Monday before peaking on Tuesday with solid surf. Wednesday will see a decreasing trend through the day. Favourable wind looks likely both Tuesday and Wednesday. There is potential for more SW swell for the end of next week.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL App and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.67 def. Dale Staples (ZAF) 10.27
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.10 def. Michael February (ZAF) 11.67

Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Upcoming Match-Ups:
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 5: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat  6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat  7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat  8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat  9: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 11: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 12: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)

The Corona Open J-Bay is the showcase event at the J-Bay Winterfest, a multi-sport and cultural festival in Jeffreys Bay from July 12-23. More details at www.jbaywinterfest.com. .

Chokka fishing boat disaster

Eight crew still missing from capsized chokka fishing boat

There were still eight crew members missing from the ill-fated Chokka fishing boat Maredon that capsized off Thyspunt early Sunday morning. An extensive sea, air and shoreline search was called off late into the evening Sunday with the police, police dive unit and NSRI St Francis Bay remaining on high alert. The search for the missing crew will resume this morning.

Chokka fishing boat capsized

 

NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) following reports of red distress flares reported by Chokka fishing vessels at sea off-shore of Thyspoint at around 03h30 on Sunday morning.  The Chokka fishing vessel Silver Eagle had witnessed the red distress flares at around 03h00 and raised the alarm calling Telkom Maritime Radio Services and MRCC.

An EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon had then also been intercepted by MRCC and additional flare sightings were reported.

Two Chokka fishing vessels, Silver Eagle and Megalodon, diverted to investigate and the Chokka fishing vessel Maredon was then confirmed to have capsized.

NSRI St Francis Bay launched the sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II in rough sea conditions with six meter swells and a gusting to 50 knots westerly wind and driving rain. It was confirmed that the vessel had 16 crew members aboard at the time of the disaster and a search commenced for survivors.

In addition to NSRI Spirit of St Francis II, the SA Police Services, Private Care ambulance services, local security company members, NSRI Jeffreys Bay and NSRI Oyster Bay, EC Government Health EMS, a Police Dive Unit and an NSRI Port Elizabeth NSRI ASR team aboard an SA Air Force 15 Squadron Charlie Flight BK-117 helicopter and the Kouga Municipality’s Fire and Disaster team also responded to assist in the search for the missing crew.

Silver Eagle reported a life-raft the life-raft had drifting too close into towards the rocks and could not be reached and the vessel Megalodon reporting it had recovered one survivor from the water. The  survivor was transferred from the Megalodon onto the NSRI sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II and he was brought to shore where he was transported to hospital by Private Care ambulance services in a stable condition.

During a search members of the public, including the owner of other Chokka fishing boats and NSRI rescuers, recovered a deceased fisherman on the shore in the vicinity of Sunset Rocks and five survivors were found on the beach at Sunset Rocks. The deceased man was taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services.

The Maredon was found capsized and hard aground at Sunset Rocks but surf conditions did not allow rescuers to get close to the stricken vessel during the high tide. As high tide approached waves caused the stricken vessel to roll over a few times and one survivor was witnessed climbing out of the vessel and NSRI rescue swimmers waded into the water and rescued the survivor who has been airlifted to hospital by the SAAF 15 Squadron Charlie Flight helicopter in a stable condition.

As the tide receded police divers were able to breach the hull of the boat using cutting tools but no crew were found inside the hull. Police and a Police Dive Unit will continue in an ongoing search and recovery operation assisted by NSRI St Francis Bay.

When the search was called off last light one deceased crew member had been recovered with seven survivors, six of whom have been hospitalised and are reported to be in stable conditions. Eight crew are still missing.

Commenting on the disaster, Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen commented on the emergency crews that reacted to the disaster.

“”They did a great job and we are very grateful for their efforts. We are only sorry that not all lives could be saved. Our deepest condolences go to the family of the fisherman who drowned and our prayers are with those still waiting for news of their loved ones.”

All involved in the search and rescue operation today are commended for their efforts in extremely rough sea conditions.

Sincere Condolences are conveyed to family, friends and colleagues of the deceased fisherman.

Police have opened an inquest docket and SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) are launching an investigation.

The search for the missing crewmen contiinued at first light this morning