Jordy Smith back to team
The scene at New Pier, a surf break in Jordy’s hometown of Durban, is the kind of place that requires respect, hard work, and a good attitude to climb the ranks of the pecking order. A fast hollow right that is known for heavy localism, New Pier taught Smith how to excel in both small and large hollow surf. These are all traits that come naturally to this young superstar who has a surfing history longer than most. At the age of three, Jordy’s father, a shaper and surfer himself, began driving him to the local beaches and pushing him into waves. “Smitty” or “Superfreak” as Jordy is also known, took to surfing early on, and by time he was 15 knew that this sport was his calling.
“My mentors, or the ones I look up to are Martin Potter and Shaun Thomson, but my dad taught me everything, and motivated me more than anyone else,” says the 21 year-old surfer. “My mom and sister also both keep me in line,” said Smith about his upbringing. This close-knit family environment is one of the reasons Jordy has found so much success on both the amateur and professional levels. When traveling on tour he mainly stays with his family and his team manager, who help him, focus, rest and eat well.
After winning the World Juniors in 2006, the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, and landing on the WCT in 2008, there was a lot of pressure on Jordy, a regular footer, to succeed. Pressure, however, is the one thing Jordy doesn’t let get to him. Never one to boast, he says he surfs against himself in heats, and focuses on just surfing and not the pressure around him. “Last year probably wasn’t the best, but I gained so much experience. Just getting to events on time, with the right boards, and sticking to a plan has helped me so much this year. Last year I traveled with too many boards and tried new things at contest, and I learned quickly that preparation is the most important thing,” he said about his first year on the WCT.
Being on tour is not all fun and games. Jordy found this out at maxing Sunset Beach last year, when he tore his ACL and meniscus. When he went to stand up, his front foot slid forward too far, he fell, causing him to get completely annihilated by an oncoming set. It wasn’t until he tried to catch another wave that he realized something was wrong. “That was a heavy moment,” he said. “I thought that was it for sure. I tried to surf again and stand up, and it just hurt so bad, I couldn’t believe I was hurt.” But it was just this kind of learning experience that has made Jordy such a strong competitor. His main focus when competing is to go out, surf explosively, make it look easy, and not worry about the media or other surfers. “I try not to control things I can’t control,” said Jordy about surfing against higher ranked athletes and often guys he has been looking up to since he was a kid. Easier said that done, Jordy has been an athlete and a fierce competitor since he was young.
The making of this champion is not by accident, and for Smith, sports like soccer and tennis played a huge role while he was growing up in South Africa.. As a junior, Jordy was selected to the South African National Soccer Team, which in a country where soccer rules, would have guaranteed him a promising future early on, and the chance to play overseas. At age 11, Jordy was asked to play soccer abroad in England, but luckily chose to surf instead. He knew early on that surfing was his calling so he spent hours on end studying surf movies and memorizing his favorite moves by surfers like Kelly Slater. When Jordy’s own fame started rising, he never claimed to be the next great one, or never went out to make his solo movie biography film. Instead he quietly chipped away at his training and his surfing, along the way inventing new tricks like the swiss-roll, a signature move where he grabs the board with both hands and spins 360 degrees.
Like any pro, the luxurious boat trips are some great perks of the business, and Tavarua in Fiji is one of his favorite places to surf. “Surfing Restaurants and then sitting in the pool drinking beers is one of the best memories I have. It’s just a perfect wave.”
Besides being able to charge the biggest surf, Jordy has a quiet sense of humor that makes him entertaining to be around, especially for anyone that has seen Smith’s infamous Batman suit. Bringing the suit out at multiple parties this past winter on the North Shore, he simply couldn’t pass it up in the store when he bought it. On tour, however, it’s game time and Jordy turns his razor sharp focus on the waves and the competition, a signature trait of a world champion. As the target of media hype since he turned pro, Jordy is well prepped to be the next best surfer in the world. With a 3rd place finish at Bells Beach, and at 21 years of age, he is already on his way to become the next World Champ.
LOOKING BACK TO THE FUTURE
It’s hard to imagine that at only 21 years old, he has achieved a level of surfing success and skill that takes most many decades to reach. Whether it’s his incredibly focused raw talent or his under the radar sense of humor, Jordy Smith is a surfer who knows how to succeed. Through large airs, or massive rail to rail carves, he can always look back to his days at the rough hewn New Pier, where his work ethic and surfing style were honed.