Matt chases the pack
By TONY WHITE
TALK about deja vu.
Incredibly, for the second year in succession, Yamba surfer Matt Jones (pictured) finished an unlucky fifth in the Rip Curl MP Classic at Duranbah on the Gold Coast last Sunday, narrowly missing the four-man final.
"I was stoked to get that far, this year was a lot harder than last year, there was more depth, but it was a bummer missing out on the final again," the 25-year-old goofy footer said.
"I scored the hot semi."
Jones, a journeyman on the second tier WSQ circuit, did not miss out through lack of ability. He was dynamic, carving gravity-defying lines across the clean one-metre plus waves.
The part-time Yamba Bowling Club employee and lawnmowing contractor scored 8.7 and 8.2 for his best two waves in the semi-final, a combined total of 16.9 which would be good enough to get through in nine out of 10 heats.
However, semi winner Julian Wilson, from the Sunshine Coast (19.5), including a perfect 10, and Tweed Heads' Scott Wildin (17.5) excelled, outpointing Jones in an amazing display of high power surfing from the trio.
"My score would have been good enough to get through the other semi-final but that's the way it goes," lamented blond-headed Jones. "The scores were pretty amazing for a semi.
"At least the waves were pumping. It was great for contest surf."
The Rip Curl MP Classic, named after legendary 1970s cult hero Michael Peterson, was eventually won by Dave Reardon-Smith from Yaroomba, Queensland. He outclassed a strong 96-man field to beat Jai Boyce (West Tweed), Julian Wilson (Coolum Beach) and Wildin.
Three-time winner Shaun Grossman was knocked out in the quarter finals.
Jones is one of a large group of semi-professional surfers who are forced to work part-time in order to pursue their dreams and passion for surfing.
Unlike multi-million dollar earning world champions Kelly Slater and Andy Irons, Jones eeks out a living on the Australian and WQS circuit hoping for the all-important breakthrough and attracting sponsors.
"I've been working every night at the Yamba Bowling Club and mowing lawns with my dad to try and save up enough money to get overseas and do some competitions this year," Jones said.
"I surfed in about 10 WQS events last year and got a ninth in the 5-star event at Newquay which was my best result."
Last year's winner of the Pippie Beach Open at Yamba is aiming to compete in WQS events in Japan and Europe later this year.
"I just love my surfing and I'm really enjoying it," Jones quipped.
Jones, along with former Australasian Pro Junior circuit winner Daniel Ross, competing in WQS events in Brazil, and Laurie Towner, leader of the ASP Junior circuit, are flying the flag high for local surfers.