10 Things Worth Remembering From Previous J-Bay Events

There's been a whole lot of history-book moments at this event. So as we approach the business end of competition, 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

Parko1.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.

2. Kelly Slater's guitar sessions. Or more precisely, Kelly playing his guitar for hours on end to a captive audience in the sushi restaurant on Pepper Street. Sometimes he jived and the audience bopped accordingly, other times he simply came across as a tone-deaf crooner. It was as if he was practicing, and anyone walking into the restaurant for a sushi platter and some wine was forced to listen. But, there were always enough sycophants in the audience who'd watch on with rapt admiration and make him feel special.

Hedgey and a possible moment of clarity, but certainly a moment of brilliance. ASP/Cestari Hedgey and a possible moment of clarity, but certainly a moment of brilliance. ASP/Cestari

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.

4. Jordy Smith’s first win at JBay in 2010. It was emotional. Jordy was holding a bit more weight on that large frame, but didn’t have a care in the world on his shoulders and was fast and loose. He flew, he rotated, he cried when the results were announced, and he showed the world what he was all about. Kelly called him for multiple world titles.

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.

6.The Kelly Slater vs Andy Irons final in 2005. Andy had it in the bag. Kelly sneaked a set in the dying seconds of the heat. He needed a high score. He hit it four times in the most critical part of a big wave and fell off on his fifth re-entry attempt at Impossibles. He got the score. Needing a 9.23 the judges came in with a 9.5 and Andy’s reply was, simply: “You gave him a 9.5 before he even took off. Fucking ridiculous.” 

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.

Mr Joske, archin' soul. Mr Joske, archin' soul.

8. Heath Joske's soul arch in 2012. J-Bay was a six-star event, and it was met with four days of perfect surf. The event started off dismally with South African Royden Bryson snapping his leg in a freesurf the day before the event, but one of the highlights was an unsponsored and heavily bearded Heath Joske cruising along a perfect Supers wall in the classic soul arch. Out of all the barrels, carves and airs that day it was the soul arch that got the most cheers from the spectators, which probably means something.

This is why Mr Holmes is the most feared local wildcard at any tour stop. ASP/Cestari This is why Mr Holmes is the most feared local wildcard at any tour stop. ASP/Cestari

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.

Yes, we've forgotten, or not omitted some moments here, (Mick Fanning's marine life encounter included - but you've already seen that one over one hundred times, so we'll spare you) Please, school us below. (Originally posted, 2013)