(Not So Bold) Prediction: Filipe Toledo Will Win J-Bay For The Third Consecutive Year
Jordy Smith falls off the boat, Steph Gilmore becomes a raindrop on Caroline Marks’ windshield and more from today in the house of Jeff.
Three-foot Jeffrey’s Bay is as easy on the eyes as it is difficult to surf; the right-hand point so determined to run its course that most surfers—especially those forced to redirect their board for points—are left behind the button and forced to munch rocks.
It’s the surfers who can fit the most amount of impact into the smallest amount of space that will succeed when Jeff is in his adolescent state. To put it simply: goofy-foots.
Those who stand with the right foot forward collected all but one of their heat wins today, and, if we’re being honest, Deivid Silva has reason to challenge his loss against Kolohe Andino. Old boy was throwing daggers at the lip.
Let’s survey the scene.
Almost everybody thought Jordy Smith would defeat Owen Wright in the first heat of the morning, and perhaps for good reason.
Owen Wright hadn’t made the final series at J-Bay since 2014, and barring the year he attempted to surf the event with an injury, Jordy hadn’t missed a final series since 2013. Also, Jordy was 4-0 lifetime against Owen Wright going into this match. Also also, Stab’s eyes on-site had Jordy as the standout performer in any and all freesurfs this week.
But as history has shown, Jordy’s dominance outside of the jersey equates to fuck all in his heats. Today’s result was just another crumpled up Kleenex heaped onto a pile of competitive underachievement—one that may eventually spill over and rot, along with Jordy’s chances of ever wearing the title crown.
The Saffa must win Teahupo’o if he wants a chance in 2019. Considering Jordy’s extended Hawaiian training in the off-season, it’s not out of the question.
Oh, and to Owen’s credit, the Avatar elevated his game two-fold in this match, linking turns as seamlessly as ever while offering an extra gear of risk with stylish fin drifts and over-vert whacks. Jordy, maybe a foot too deep on the wave of the heat, opted to let Owen go and that was it. Eight points and a relatively simple victory over the local bru.
Ryan Callinan made a terrible mistake today, which is something few can afford to do against Gabriel Medina. Having earned two mid-range scores for what was practically a combination lead (Medina needed a 9.8 or some such to take the heat), and with 3:30 to go, Callinan let Medina take the first wave of a two-wave set.
This is was not a mistake, necessarily.
Medina’s wave was short and sweet—good enough for a score, but certainly not the 9.8 he needed. In fact, I think Ryan made the right call by passing this wave up, as it allowed him the option to surf the full length of the second wave or kick out and retain priority, based on his potential score and certain clues to the quality of Medina’s ride.
For instance, did the crowd erupt? Was Medina way down the point?
Because the answer to both questions was ‘no’, Ryan should have known that Medina would still need a decent second score to take the lead. In other words, priority was more valuable than Ryan’s potential ride.
But Callinan neglected these clues and surfed well beyond Gabriel’s finishing point, fitting turns where he could along a stretched-out wall but ultimately failing to improve his total.
So Medina got priority, found a wave, and did exactly what you’d expect him to do, nailing the score he needed with little time to spare.
Hopefully, Ryan will learn from this mistake and apply different logic to similar future scenarios. In other news, this might have just opened the door for Medina’s back-half slaughter.
I’ve watched the Kolohe vs. Deivid Silva heat a few times now, and I can’t shake the feeling that Brazilian should have a spot in the quarters. Deiv’s turns through the lip were so critical and clean, that to me there’s no comparison against Kolohe’s sprayless reos and half-cooked carves.
Yes, Deivid fell on his best wave of the heat, which was surely the difference-maker in the judges’ eyes. But should it have been? We want to see the two best turns of the heat on one wave, not the six safest.
Don’t get me wrong, Kolohe surfed well, but even he would admit that the performance was around 60% of his capacity. Deiv went 95.
It was interesting to see how the judges would respond to Zeke Lau and Adrian Buchan—two opposing surfers in every sense of the word. Zeke: regular, strong, angry. Ace: goofy, light-footed, jovial.
Ace spent the first 200 meters of his opening ride trying to get out in front of the damn thing. When he finally did, the central coaster threw quick, clean jabs at the lip, creating the appearance of power with vast plumes of spray born from expert timing and technique. Ace is surfing’s true tactician.
Meanwhile, Zeke moseyed down the line with an anvil for a back foot, punching every section in guts like it had grabbed the last spam musubi from the rack.
Their final exchange would decide the heat, with Ace scoring 7.1 for smooth, surface-level hacks and Zeke Lau earning 7.67 for pure heavyweight swagger.
Because Buchan’s backup score was a full point higher, Lau’s mid-seven left him short of the requirement, causing him to lose despite being a clear favorite in the conditions.
Filipe Toledo pulled a Slater this morning, paddling into a wave then resting on his hands for several seconds (even checking out the back for a “better” wave!) before opting to stand up and start the heat against Willian Cardoso.
Filipe’s indecision (or was it mockery?) became even more comical when he proceeded to belt the fuck out of the wave, as he opened with three wraps, followed by three vertical bashes, then, when his legs should have been on empty, hooking straight into the best turn of the entire ride, a full-rail carve into the meaty part of the face, followed by another strong reo and closeout float.
Not ones for explanatory prose, the judges simply called it a 9.43.
By his third wave—this one also containing close to 10 turns—Filipe’s legs finally gave on the end section float, turning what would have been another nine into an 8.83. At which point, Fil never caught another wave.
Why would he?
Sebastian Zietz caught bigger waves than Michel Bourez and rode them to completion. Michel picked smaller waves and fell. Who do you think won?
On paper, Kanoa Igarashi is the only surfer whose performance today came close to Toledo’s, but watching the replay it’s clear his waves were a fraction of the quality.
This isn’t necessarily Kanoa’s fault, and nor is it the judges’. The wind had clocked side-onshore by the time Kanoa pranced across the bricks, making the surface somewhat bumpy and the lips extra soft. Kanoa surfed very well, but the 17-point total is a bit misleading, especially in relation to his prior performances throughout the event.
Kelly Slater wore a spring suit today, which is funny because he was wearing a 4/3 and gloves at the very same spot less than 10 days ago. Beyond that, Slater made a few other questionable decisions throughout the heat, like allowing Italo Ferreira to catch the first wave (which the Brazilian surfed to 7-plus points) and again when he kicked out of a wave early, allowing Italo to pick it up down the line and collect yet another 7-pointer.
In response, Slater mined a quarry of turns on a quick inside runner. The judges deemed it not a diamond but a turd, offering five measly points for his completed ride. Kelly would come to score a seven at some point in the heat, but he looked pretty out of rhythm with the wave, as he did with every one thereafter.
For a fourth consecutive time, Italo waltzed past the Champ, who according to sources on the ground, has been suffering from severe back pain. Heal up Slates, your favorite (and uncovered) leg is approaching!
Steph Gilmore vs. Caroline Marks was one of the most highly anticipated heats of the day. First because of their ability levels—Steph is lethal on her forehand; Caroline, too, but with her back to the wall. Second because of the World Title race—Steph is in third, Caroline a close sixth. Third because of their history—Caroline, who is 17, smashed Steph, who is a 7x World Champion, at the champ’s homebreak earlier this season, which surely ruffled Gilmore’s golden locks.
Steph and Caroline both started with mid-sixes—Steph’s, I thought, being clearly superior, but the judges displayed ambivalence with just a .06 split. Later in the heat was another close exchange, with Marks using her priority on the first wave of the set and linking multiple connecting turns before two lip bashes at the end. Steph was up shortly after, on a taller but froth-covered wall, hooking three big turns before the wave ran off to Madagascar.
The judges placed these waves further apart, going low-eights for Marks and high-six for Gilmore, which would ultimately decide the heat. It feels that Steph’s decision to go on the faster, more stretched-out walls defeated her today.
Carissa Moore’s first turn was positively scrumptious, earning roughly five of the eight total points allotted to her incomplete ride. Later on, she’d snag another steep, running wall and tag it thrice before tucking into a late and surprisingly deep inside tube, then kicking out and earning a 9.5 for her efforts (see below). With Steph out, she’s gotta be the new favorite to win.
Sally Fitz and Malia Manuel had a bit of a slugfest in their quarterfinal, dueling with good to near-excellent scores and the heat boiling down to Manuel’s fall on the closeout section of her final ride. Malia emerged from the whitewash with the win, however, maintaining her featherweight title of the Sweetest Punch In The Face.
In the last heat of the day, Courtney Conlogue opened with a strong seven but ultimately failed to back it up, as her competitor, Lakey P, blitzed an 8.something and filled the void with a cheeky tube on her final ride. Lakey on, and we’re out!
Finals day could be tomorrow, or not. Y’excited?
Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Round of 16 Results:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.23 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.70
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.94 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.67
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.73 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 12.14
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.43 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.00
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.26 DEF. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 11.33
Heat 6: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.83 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 11.44
Heat 7: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 17.24 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 11.73
Heat 8: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.06 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.20
Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
QF 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
QF 4: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.44 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.10
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.67 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.50
QF 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.03 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.50
QF 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 14.40 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.00
Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)
SF 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
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