Jordy vies with world's No. 1 surfer

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18 October 2010

South Africa's Jordy Smith finished runner-up to nine-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater after a matchup between the current ASP world numbers one and two in the final of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal on Thursday.

Slater led throughout the 35-minute final held in one to one-and-a-half metre waves at Supertubos in Peniche, locking in two mid-range scores early and then posting a 7.0 out of 10.

Despite fighting back with the heat's highest ride of 7.10, Smith could not find the waves he needed to perform his high scoring aerial manoeuvres and Slater wrapped up his 44th ASP World Tour victory with a 6.33 with four minutes remaining.

'I was trying to stay busy'

"It was actually a pretty slow final with neither of us getting any waves of consequence," Slater said on the podium. "I was trying to stay busy but neither of us could get a solid wave.

"I actually nearly ended up reaching my wave maximum (15 rides) out there, so I kind of had to slow down and try to wait for waves that mattered.

"Jordy has all the talent in the world and he's capable of getting a score at any time. It wasn't over until the horn blew."

Smith fought valiantly throughout the final, posting the highest single-wave score with a backhand Superman air, but was unable to find a worthy backup score.

'I felt a little out of rhythm'

"I guess I felt a little out of rhythm in the final," Smith said afterwards.

"I was able to notch up one good one, but couldn't find a backup. That's the way it goes sometimes.

"I'm still happy with the result and the way my year has gone, so I'm just staying positive and we'll see how we end up."

The victory moves Slater one step closer to clinching an unprecedented 10th ASP world title.

"It's obviously a very big deal for me," he commented. "If it happens, it will be a major accomplishment for me in my life. Today’s win puts me another step closer and we'll see what happens in Puerto Rico."

Looking ahead

While Smith is now the only surfer on the ASP World Tour who can prevent Slater from achieving a historical milestone, the 22-year-old Durbanite needs a minimum of a semifinal finish at the next event to extend the ASP World Title Race to the final event in Hawaii in December.

If Slater reaches the semifinals or better in Puerto Rico, he will clinch the crown no matter where Smith finishes.

"I was stoked to be in the final with Kelly and I'm stoked to be in the race still with him," Smith said philosophically about the remainder of the season.

'An honour'

"He's someone I've looked up to my whole life and it's an honour to be up there in the rankings next to him. I'm looking forward to the next event and hope we get some more fun wedges."

Smith had a superb run on his way to his third final this season. After winning his opening encounter, he defeated Dean Morrison of Australia in round three, and then won his round four duel against another Aussie, Owen Wright.

He followed that up by defeating Brazil's Jadson Andre with the highest scores of Wednesday's action.

On Thursday he ousted the USA's Patrick Gudauskas in the quarterfinals and then out-pointed Frenchman Jeremy Flores in their semi-final clash.

$30 000 cheque

Smith pocketed US $30 000 for his runner-up finish to take his season prize-money haul to $156 000.

He also also earned 8 000 points, which leaves him 9 250 behind Slater and 8 500 ahead of third ranked Mick Fanning of Australia, the reigning ASP world champion.

Travis Logie

Fellow South African Travis Logie finished ninth in Portugal, to match his best result of the year, and provided the two biggest upsets of the event by ousting Fanning in round three and Dane Reynolds of the USA in round two.

Those strong results have moved Logie up from number 34 to number 29 on the ASP World Title Race Rankings, which has boosted his chances of finishing the year amongst the top 22 on the rankings and re-qualifying for the 2011 ASP World Tour.

The next stop on the 2010 ASP World Tour will be the Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico from 30 October through 10 November.

ASP WORLD TITLE RACE TOP 5
(After Rip Curl Pro Portugal)

    1. Kelly Slater (USA) 58 000 pts

    2. Jordy Smith (RSA) 48 750 pts

    3. Mick Fanning (Aus) 41 250 pts

    4. Taj Burrow (Aus) 34 000 pts

    5. Adrian Buchan (Aus) 33 750 pts

SAinfo reporter

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South African surfing superstar Jordy Smith goes aerial (Photo: Kelly Cestari)

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