There is a time in every surfer's professional career life when they burst onto the scene. Martin Potter was a great example, busting out and beating Shaun Tomson in a pro event in Durban when he was 15 years old.
Jordy Smith didn't do too badly either, quickly launching himself onto the pro tour and elevating himself to the runner-up position in 2010. It was that very runner-up year that made Kelly declare that Jordy had multiple world titles in him, of which none have materialized as of yet.
Still, his breakout event on tour in 2010 was his win at JBay. It was a good year for surf, not a great year, and the final day waves were contestable but poor in Supertubes standards. Still, it was a pretty wild day for many people, Jordy included.
Bede Durbidge had Jordy locked down in their semi, holding a substantial lead, and with Jordy in combo, with four minutes on the clock. Jordy was trolling that bottom section, putting his shoulders into it and scooping large pockets of water as he tried to traverse up the point far enough to find a wave with some face on it. Jordy got one and popped a little credit card rail-grab, unimpressive by Jordy's standards, but a few more turns and a little swish over the rocks, and the judges gave him something respectable and got him out of the combo. He raced back up and grabbed another short brick-touching runner, and unleashed about five quick turns, nothing too special but speedy combinations, to get the score to win. Bede was not happy when I spoke to him on the beach afterwards. "Yeah, I couldn't hear what the judges were saying, but I wasn't surprised when he got the score," said the affable fellow, with just the right level of contempt in his voice to vent frustration but keep his demeanour cool. "I thought I had done enough, but obviously, I hadn't."
The find of the event thus far apart from Jordy, had been the young Adam Melling. He had flown down the line all week, finding reckless amounts of speed and throwing chunks of spray all over the shop to the continuous comparisons to Fanning. Much like Ethan Ewing's comparison to AI, Melling is very much his own surfer with an incredible and unique style. While the comments weren't harmful, they probably didn't do him any good in that fledgeling part of his career.
He started in the final with a few quick waves, but the conditions were deteriorating quickly in the freshening northeast breeze. Jordy was once again swarming all over the bottom section of the point. He was surfing oblivious to the sharp rocks that were popping up all over the shop. He could smell victory, the local crowd was whooping it up, and there were so many fucking vuvuzelas blaring out their painful blasts, drowning out the cheering and much of the commentating.
In the dying minutes, Jordy stroked into this little wave and started racing along as fast as he could, keeping away from the rocks. The wave was an onshore mess, broken up, but it hit a bigger section further down towards Impossible and started growing. Jordy had so much speed that by the time the section formed up in front of him he had speed to burn, he quickly turned the momentum into a series of lightning-fast turns, fast and critical but nothing too massive. He needed to clinch the deal, and he knew how to do it. An excellent closeout move in the gully and every man and his dog knew that he had his maiden CT victory.
It was a very cool moment. Jordy's mom lit a ciggie and shook her head, hands trembling slightly. The crowd were roaring, Jordy has a whole lot of duties to contend with before he got to the podium, with signings, posing and interviews and all the rest, but he did it all efficiently and headed up to the podium to receive his trophy.
The rest is history.