Johannesburg - Jeffreys Bay local Shaun Payne from nearby St Francis Bay earned a coveted wildcard into the R3 million Pro J-Bay by defeating a world-class quartet of up-and-coming junior surf stars in the VonZipper Superheat at Jeffreys Bay on Thursday.
Payne, 26, waited patiently for the best waves during the hard fought 40 minute heat run in marginal 0.6 to one metre glassy waves at Supertubes. Posting a score of 5.83 out of 10 on his opening ride, it wasn't until the last 10 minutes that he moved into the lead with 6.60 point ride and a heat tally of 12.43 out of 20.
"I am just so happy to have made it, words can't express how I feel right now," exclaimed an elated Payne in the post heat interview.
"Even when I took the lead I knew the other guys could easily get the score required. It was the longest seven minutes of my life and I was just over the moon when the siren sounded."
Payne's wildcard sees him take on top seed and 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and red hot rookie Alejo Muniz (BRA) when Round 1 gets underway, probably at first light on Friday.
It is unknown whether Slater will be in Jeffreys Bay in time for his Round 1 heat as he has been enjoying an outstanding swell in Fiji while the unseasonal sunny and warm conditions in South Africa have resulted in small waves at Jeffreys Bay.