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Friday, 10 July 2015 00:00

Kelly Slater stands out in tricky Jeffreys Bay

Round 1 of the J-Bay Open started with clean conditions and solid swell in the head high range as the Top 34 battled for the direct advance to Round 3.


After missing two consecutive events due to injury Tahitian Michel Bourez returned to competition at Stop No. 6 in aggressive form, sending both Taj Burrow (AUS) and Brett Simpson (USA) to Round 2. Despiteinjuring his foot before heading to South Africa, Bourez looked fired up using his powerful rail surfing to win the first heat of the event.


Fiji Pro runner-up Julian Wilson (AUS) appeared to continue his momentum with a Round 1 win. In spite of holding a lead throughout the majority of his heat, fellow Fiji finalist and Stop No. 5 winner Owen Wright fell victim to C.J. Hobgood (USA). Hobgood snatched victory from Wright in the final minute of the heat, his first Round 1 win of the season.


Rhythm seemed all the more defining factor as the day progressed, eluding many of the world's best including No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) who lost to wildcard Dane Reynolds (USA). And while veteran rail work fromMick Fanning (AUS) earned one of the highest heat totals of the day, increased onshore wind forced judges to reward progression heading into the back half of the round.

Aerial performances from Josh Kerr (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA) and Kolohe Andino (USA), who sent Jeep Leader Adriano de Souza (BRA) into Round 2, reigned supreme as the day neared completion. Slater dominated goofyfooters Matt Wilkinson (AUS) and Glenn Hall (IRL) to earn 17.00, the highest heat total of the day.

"I feel really good and I took a lot of time off this week," said Slater. "I didn't chase that last swell and I just took some time for myself. I also felt really good in my freesurf yesterday. I just felt really calm and I watched it a couple hours beforehand to see where to sit and which waves to catch and who's doing what. I don't feel like anyone's been able to stand out today. I've got to do something, you know? Got to keep these guys on their toes while I'm here."

Surfers struggled to find a clean face in the final heats of the day as conditions continued to deteriorate. Local favorite Jordy Smith (ZAF) could not find his groove and will face elimination in Round 2. Meanwhile reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) and former World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) failed to overcome rookie Keanu Asing(HAW), who's fierce performance earned him the direct advance to Round 3.

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