J-Bay surf report by Sam Mitchell | Photos by Billy Ackerman
The final day of the 2015 J-Bay Open, had solid conditions and we were set for one heavy day of competition. Julian Wilson’s quarterfinal heat was against Brazilian, Adriano de Souza who is currently World No. 1. If de Souza had to lose, this would open the door for Wilson to take that yellow jersey.
Right off the cuff, Adriano de Souza put two mid-range scores on the board. But straight after that Julian Wilson fought back with an excellent score, which was under De Souza’s priority to take the lead.
In the Semifinal heat, after Australia’s, Adrian Buchan had defeated Julian Wilson in Round 4, Wilson had a little payback. He opened with a score of 8.73 and then an excellent backup got him through to the Final.
The other heats of the day included matchups between USA’s own, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Brazilian, Gabriel Medina.
The first heat was Gabriel Medina and Kelly Slater, with Medina winning the Round 4 heat. In the Quarterfinals Slater’s opening turns earned him a back-to-back score in the nine-point range, which in turn forced Medina to chase down a near perfect score. Slater’s early near perfect scores ended up winning him that heat, even though Medina had came so close, with hacking up the lip on his backhand. Slater then went on to compete in the Semifinals.
Fanning had similar ferocity with his awesome lip work, which earned him a 9.57 in the Quarterfinal against the injury replacement Brazilian, Alejo Muniz.
Fanning was then up against Slater in the Semifinals and right off the bat he had two excellent scores, which put the 11-time World Champion, Kelly Slater into a tight spot and needed to catch up. Slater wasn’t concerned and picked glassy open faces for near perfect 9.43. But Fanning continued to work his magic with his signature moves, of wrapping carves and smooth turns, which got him a 9.60 to carry him through to the final, and be up against Julian Wilson.
The final got off to a good start, with Julian Wilson scoring a 6.67 on his first wave, then the unthinkable happened…Mick Fanning had a shockingly close encounter with a shark. It was one of those moments where you stand there scared to the death and wonder if what you’re seeing, is actually happening. The Water Safety team responded really quickly, but for the safety of both Fanning and fellow surfer, Julian Wilson, the contest was brought to halt and cancelled. It was agreed that Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson would split 2nd place and divide the prize money as well as the points in half.
Luckily neither of the two were harmed.