asp world tour 2011 jeffreys bay

15 July 2011 18:18:00 AEST
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It's that time of year again where the who's who of professional surfing roll into South Africa's famed Jeffrey's Bay for the Billabong Pro event. And whether you're going to be glued to the webcast from afar, making your way across oceans to watch from the beach or trying to back a winner, here at Surfing Atlas we have the background information for you. For the full breakdown including the five day surf forecast, set up shots and dozens of videos click HERE

What: Billabong Pro Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa

When:14-24 July 2011

Where: Jeffreys Bay is a seaside townlocated in the Eastern Capeprovince of South Africa.It lies about 1 hours' drive west of of Port Elizabeth and a couple of hours' drive east of Capetown. The bay itself stretches some twenty kilometres or so, but the township and the main surf breaks lie at the south western end.Jeffreys Bay is also at the start of the Garden Route, a must see tourist drive akin to Victoria's Great Ocean Road.

Waves:‘The best right hander in the world,’ is a phrase often thrown around when discussing South Africa’s Jeffery’s Bay. While the truth in this statement maybe argued between surfers the world over, (probably whilst drinking beer), one thing cannot be disputed- Jeffrey’s Bay is a world class wave. Think Bells, think Rincon, and add some. It’s fast, powerful, and long - the crown jewel of South Africa’s surf rich coastline. J-Bay is made up of six main sections. The most southern is Boneyards, which is at the at the top of the point. It picks up the most swell and can be good, but being 'way outside' is usually reserved for locals. It's often surfed when the other sections are too small. The next section is the famous Supertubes. In surf movies Supertubes appears to be a relatively simple walling right hander that you can relax and have fun with. In reality Supertubes is fast, very fast - an intense wave where you are constantly racing sections for over 200 metres. People come from around the world to surf Supertubes and will be where the majority of the Billabong Pro will be surfed. Numbers in the water are always high. Supers links into Impossibles which simply isn’t surfable most of the time, unless there is a good build up of sand over the reef causing Supers walls to hold through for another 100 metres or so. Then comes Tubes, an excellent wave, not as fast as Supertubes, thus allowing for more turns and is more accommodating for intermediate surfers. You may find friendlier barrels down here too. Then comes the Point and Albatross, right at the end of the wave, both popular with long boarders and quite playful. By the time the waves work their way down this far they’ve lost most of there power and size.

J-Bay is generally not a top-to-bottom barrelling wave, although good surfers always seem to find those elusive barrel sections. At five to six foot (double overhead) J-Bay is at its high-performance best, although it’s still good at three foot (head high), and can hold 10-12 foot (four to six times overhead). While J-Bay does get crowded by South African standards, compared to other places around the world, the crowds are manageable. Paddling in and out across the reef can be problematic, lots of dinged boards and bleeding feet. The bottom consists of lava rock-reef cut through with sand sections. The fragmented rock-reef is locally referred to as bricks, and if you hit one of these bricks, expect some blood.Jeffrey’s Bay has a certain magic to it, much like Bells Beach. When the swell finally arrives and you’re standing on the beach amongst the aloe plants after your first session at Supertubes, you will definitely feel it.

PHOTO: Courtesy Paul Kennedy

Conditions: J-Bay's main sections are not open to everyday swells. A strong storm from the southwest, or the unusual southeast, is needed to push waves into the bay. Such storms are almost always accompanied by offshore southwest winds. Even so,J-Bay requires a solid swell before the cold water waves start to push through. Even during winter when the Southern Ocean is at its most productive, flat days are common. When swell does arrive, the more southerly it is the better,as it forces the wave to really wrap itself around the point. The crowd, organisers and surfers all hope for barrels at Supertubes, however neogiating JBay's sections is not an easy task for the everyday surfer. While the outside sections can be bowly once hitting Supertubes the waves starts to run and is one of the fastest waves on tour. Many a surfer has raced down the line for hundreds of metres, only to reach the end and realise they hadn't performed a scoring manouvre. The best attack sees you staying on the top half of the wave, attacking the lip at speed and looking for some tight barrels exiting high onto long flat-faced walls. Bottom turns require enough drive to stay ahead of the pocket. It is a high-performance surfer's dream wave.

The best conditions see 6-8ft long period south to southwest swell, with offshore westerly winds. Which is typical of the souther hemisphere winter and the Billabong Pro is slotted in middle July to take full advantage of this. Over the years JBay has produced some of the best waves and battles in ASP history. 2009 for example, wasan incredible year for the Billabong Pro with long, dredging barrel sections right down the point. Check out highlights from the final day of that year below.

Water temperatures can be a tad chilly, but usually a 3/2mm steamer will suffice and booties are recommended for the average surfer and protect against the bricks, or for long toe numbing session. Cold outbreaks will see a 4/3mm pulled on. Some of the breaks will link up in the right conditions. If you were to ride a wave the full length of J-Bay, from the top of Boneyards all the way through to the end of Albatross, you would have travelled around 1.5 kilometres (approx one mile). Does this ever occur? That depends on who you talk to...

Form Guide: JBay accomodates all types of manouvres from cutbacks, re-entries, aireals, barrels to the enevitable closeout speed floater. However the key to all is maintaining speed for the next section. It is similar to Bells Beach in this way and not unexpectedly the the same surfers that do well there tend to do well here. Joel Parkinson has won the event twice, and Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow are also past winners. While Kelly Slater has one it more than a few times. For the new school surfers local Jordy Smith won it last year and would be likely again this year. As with most spots, locals have it wired and there's always a wildcard to watch out for. In the last couple of years local wildcard Sean Holmes has taken down some of the biggest names in surfing and finished fifth in 2010.

Coming into the event Brazilian Adriano De Souza has the ratings lead and lots of momentum after winning on home soil in Brazil. However he has never made it past the quarters here. So it means all the big names Kelly, Parko, Taj, Mick and Jordy have top billing and will be looking to pull back ground on the leader and kickstart their charge for the world title. Looking to spoil their plans are some dangerous youngsters, unpredictable, full of potential to pull up out an upset. Namely Dane Reynolds will be making his return from knee injury and Owen Wright will be pushing the Goofy foot flag. However, as always it's too hard to go past the past champions, and that's where our money will be.

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