When the JBay Open returned to Supertubes this year, it was the new school talent that was nipping at the heels of the big names.
What began as a local event three decades ago is now a regular stop on the World Tour and much favoured by one of surfing’s most fearless riders, Kieren Perrow. Once surfing’s “mild-mannered madman”, Kieren now oversees the event as Tour Commissioner.
We catch up with some of the hot and happening surfers at the event. Known for his aerial flips and big wave surfing, Australian Josh Kerr is a fierce competitor. Local hero Jordy Smith’s wins here took him to world number one in 2010. Hawaii’s John John Florence was born to ride. He first surfed at the age of 5 and at 13 became the youngest to compete in the Vans Triple Crown.
The biggest fish here was inaugural J-Bay Open winner and 11 time world champion Kelly Slater of America. In 2015, it was very nearly the last wave for Australian triple world champ, Mick Fanning. In the final with Julian Wilson, Mick was attacked by what was likely a Great White shark. In what’s thought to be the only such attack caught on camera, it looked as if he’d been pulled under. Luckily, the shark bit Mick’s leash, freeing him to swim away whilst at the same time turning back to defend himself from further attack.
Incredibly, he was unharmed, both surfers were rescued by the event safety boats and a year later Mick returned bravely, to complete some unfinished business. Mick had made peace with the ocean and everyone could again enjoy the magic of JBay.