The South African overcame a stomach bug to reach the final where he used his trademark repertoire of aerial maneuvers to post an impressive heat total 18.06, including a near perfect 9.73.
“I had a bit of a slow start, but I ended up sticking that first air and from there I was actually enjoying my surf out there and just taking my time as the waves came through. Eventually I got that one wave with a nice section and got one of the biggest ramps all week and just went for it and I landed it,” says Smith.
“I’m really happy with my performance this week and hopefully I can take this momentum to J-Bay. Willian is a tenacious competitor. He’s one of the most powerful surfers in the world and we’re both bigger guys so we were matching fire with fire.
“It’s such an honour winning this event with so many of my friends and family here. Thanks so much to everyone who’s come down to the event; your support makes a huge difference for us local surfers," he said after his win.
Smith is a two-time winner of the event. And while he was disappointed not to claim the title, Cardoso was happy with his runner-up finish which bumped him up into No 2 spot in the QS rankings heading into the second half of the year.
“I knew with Jordy it was going to be crazy in that heat and I tried to find the really good waves, but I just found one,” said Cardoso. “I’m just super stoked to have nade the final, it’s been about two years since I was in a final so it’s really good to be in that position again."
Crowd favourite Michael February also had an incredible run through the event, posting a career-best result on his way to third place, having suffered a narrow loss to Smith in their all-South African semi-final.
The Capetonian matched the Durbanite ride-for-ride in the early stages before the heat burst into life in the last five minutes with a flurry of rides that saw Smith nail it with back-to back excellent rides.
“When you surf against Jordy you’ve got to be at your best; he’s so good, and it was pretty cool to watch him from the water,” said February. “It’s awesome to surf against him because he is such an amazing surfer. At the end of the contest you’re always going to surf against the best in the world, and Jordy is definitely one of them."
Smith also commented on his compatriot: "I would have liked to be in the finals with him but that’s just the way our sport goes, I just wish him all the best, I really hope he brings it and joins me on the tour next year. He’s got the ability and the confidence."
Smith now heads to Jeffreys Bay for stop No6 of the WSL Championship Tour, starting on Wednesday.
World Surf League