By Shaun Gillham
URGED on by a soaked but enthusiastic crowd, ecstatic Brazilian Adriano de Souza clinched his first Billabong trophy in dramatic fashion during the hotly contested finals of the Billabong Pro J-Bay held in Jeffreys Bay on Friday July 13.
Following excellent conditions earlier in the week, throngs of supporters and contestants braved increasingly heavy rain and onshore winds to witness the final battle in South Africa’s premier surfing event which, in a new format, attracted 144 top local and international surfers to the globally renowned Supertubes surf break.
With just minutes left on the clock, De Souza – who faced Frenchman Joan Duru in a Europe versus South America final heat battle – injured himself as he smashed his surf board fin on Supertube’s infamously sharp rocks.
He was forced to come out of the water as a friend sprinted down towards the famous surf break with a replacement board, and with the clock racing towards the final siren, gutsy De Souza was forced to pull his considerable skills and determination together to grab the coveted trophy, $25 000 (R200 000) in prize money in his 16 to 13.60 points win.
In an interview with Weekend Post following an exuberant celebration on the podium, De Souza said anger and determination had seen him through the closely fought final heat.
“I could not believe it. I hit the rocks when I came off the wave. My fin was broken and I was angry about this. Luckily my friend