Jordy Smith, Tyler Wright Win in Rio; Smith No. 2 on WCT, Wright Leads Women's Rankings
Jordy Smith has been working on his claims. Down in Rio de Janeiro for the Billabong Rio Pro, the South African surfer was claiming like a local, even throwing out the Cristo Redentor. Just so happens that Smith won the event.
To be clear, he didn’t win the event because of his claims. He won because he stuck nearly every air he attempted the final two days of the event and was threading barrels that didn’t appear to present exit points in the fickle beachbreak conditions. He won because he was surfing with as much power and flair and excitement as the Jordy Smith the surf world was first hyped on when he joined the ASP World Tour way back in 2008. With the win – his third on the WCT and his first outside South Africa – Smith now finds himself sitting second in the WCT rankings.
“This win feels unbelievable,” Smith said. “It’s another dream come true. I knew I could win a World Tour event, but I had to prove to myself that I could do it away from South Africa.”
In the final, Smith beat the hometown favorite, Adriano de Souza. While de Souza had the backing of the thousands of his countrymen packing the beach, applauding and screaming in support of his every wave, Smith had a very different reception.
“I remember taking off on my first wave and I thought it was a pretty good first wave, and I did my last air and it was like there were crickets,” Smith recalled. “I could hear crickets in the crowd.”
Despite the support scales weighing heavily against him, Smith continued his on-point surfing for his first win of the season. With his runner-up finish, De Souza assumed the top spot in the season rankings.
“I did my best out there and thanks to the crowd for being behind me 100 percent,” De Souza said. “Congrats to Jordy. He beat me in the final from start to finish; he was the best out there today.”
Of the four semifinalists, three of them had the Oakley ‘O’ on their board. Gabriel Medina, another crowd favorite, also came within striking distance of the event win.
WCT rookie Sebastian “Seabass” Zietz also had a solid trip to Rio, qualifying through to the quarterfinals, his best result of the season.
It was a trying event for every one of the men’s top 34, with more than a week of lay days between the first and second days that the event ran.
During that period, competitors took time to site-see since the ocean went altogether flat. Some, like Smith, did everything they could to stay sharp, squeezing in workouts and preparing his boards every day despite the likelihood of another lay day.
“To keep yourself in that mindset and mode, that focus, is tough, especially when there aren’t any waves so you can’t practice,” Smith said. “When the waves finally showed up again, I was the first guy in the water that morning.”
In his 3-man, No-Losers Heat (round 4), Smith muscled his way through the biggest barrel of the event, receiving his the first perfect 10 of his WCT career.
“That [perfect 10] was ground-breaking for me. After that heat, I just marched on; I had a lot of confidence after that heat,” Smith explained. “I ended up just sticking a lot of my airs; I was just sticking airs left and right.”
Going into the final, Smith was extra-motivated taking on De Souza after their last battle in Australia.
“I was three times, maybe quadruple-amount more pumped then I should have been because Adriano knocked me out at Bells Beach in the semifinal. He went on to win the bell and that’s a contest that I’ve always wanted to win,” Smith said. “So there was no way I was letting him win that final [in Rio].”
Days prior to the men wrapping up their event, Tyler Wright wrapped up her second win in four finals this season, taking the Colgate Plax Girls Rio Pro title. The win propelled her to the top of the women’s WCT rankings with three events (a stop in Portugal for October was recently added) remaining.
“This feels pretty good. This whole event has been stepping stones for me. I started off a bit shaky and this is my first event where my family is not here with me,” Wright said. ““It’s awesome to move to the top of the rankings, but I’m honestly not thinking about the World Title. I’m just having fun surfing and enjoying each event and we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.”
Next stop for the men is the Volcom Fiji Pro, which begins on June 2nd, while the women wait for the Roxy Pro in Biarritz, France, which begins July 10th.
Men’s Finals Highlights