When he joined the Championship Tour (CT) in 2008, Jordy Smith was hauling a heavy load of expectations onto the world stage. The South African prodigy had dominated the Qualifying Series (QS) the year before, had two ISA World Games titles to his credit, and a third-place finish at the CT stop in J-Bay, where he beat several of the world’s best surfing as a wildcard.
Not surprisingly, the surf industry was clamoring for a piece of the new kid, who looked like a sure bet for a future World Title. And just two years into his career, it all seemed to be clicking, too. Smith became the first flag-waving South African to top the rankings in 2010 after winning the event in J-Bay that year. While he’d eventually finish runner-up to a revived Kelly Slater that year, a World Title seemed well within his grasp at the time.
And in 2011, he was right back in the mix after another J-Bay win… . Then life happened.
In the very next event Smith suffered a serious rib injury at Teahupo’o, and in the years that followed, as he slowly filled into his formidable 6’3″ frame, the hits kept coming: knees, ankles, back…the back again…and again. For five straight years Smith couldn’t complete a full season. In 2015, he finally took some real time to heal.
Last year was Smith’s first injury-free season since 2010, and while John John Florence was nabbing most of the headlines, Smith quietly returned to form, climbing all the way back to No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard by year’s end. He’s now enjoying one of the most successful stretches of his competitive career. In 12 months alone, he’s racked up wins at Trestles, Sunset, Bells Beach and Ballito. During last week’s Corona Open J-Bay, he thrilled fans with a perfect heat, scoring 20 points on two 10-point rides.
After years of toiling non-stop, Smith is finally feeling like he’s back where he belongs. And a recent trip back to his Durban roots is helping him put his entire journey into perspective. While Smith would be the first to admit he’s been battered a bit, he’s determined to stay unbreakable.