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 came down with another board, but the clock was ticking. The anger made me get back out there and do my best,” said De Souza, who revealed he had been dreaming of a win at Jeffreys Bay since he first came to the surfing mecca more than 10 years ago.
“Jeffreys Bay is a very special place. The waves are fantastic and I am thrilled about this win,” enthused the short, stocky surfer who is currently ranked among the world’s top 10 competitors.
“I will definitely be back next year. I am looking forward to that already,” he said.
The contest, which also drew a massive national and international media contingent, kicked off on Tuesday in epic off-shore wind conditions with perfect waves of six to eight foot in height.
With forecasts predicting foul weather heading into the weekend, organisers were fortunate to complete the championship before on-shore winds and dropping swells made Supertubes uncontestable.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday July 14 2012.