The Mid-Year Curse Is Broken And Floaters Are Back! - Stab Mag
Jack Robbo, the most clutch performer (and second best floater-er) in surfing today. Photo: WSL

The Mid-Year Curse Is Broken And Floaters Are Back!

J-Bay pumps for day one, top seeds falter.

news // Jul 13, 2022
Words by Pedro Ramos
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Day one at J-Bay. Overhead. Offshore. Upsets galore.

Lezz go.


  • Jessi Miley-Dyer pulls a Kelly Slater
  • Ladies first, there’s no time to rehearse
  • Matthew McGillivray gets a proper night’s sleep
  • Johanne Defay makes the Final 5
  • Floaters make a comeback
“I actually saw him physically!” – Peter Mel confirming Kelly Slater’s presence at the event. Photo: WSL


It’s the first day of the waiting period, and following a string of events that felt like the leisurely leg of the tour — warm weather, cocktails, infinity pools — expectations are high for the league’s return to the Eastern Cape, home of the cold water Punta Roca (*dodges Jordy slap*).

Ronnie Blakey laments the swell’s lack of punctuality but praises the sunrise for tingeing the Indian Ocean with a golden hue, visible through a window in the background of a rather bucolic commentary booth.  

Replacing Jessi Miley-Dyer as the WSLSVPOTHOC for the event, Travis Logie faces straight into a camera and hits 3.9 million WSL Instagram followers with a pair of mildly dire announcements:

7:30 SAST: On hold 

10:15 SAST: On hold

At 14:15 SAST a call rid of ambiguity: Off for the day.

The morning after, Ronnie and Rosy take turns complimenting the sunrise. Earlier, a steadfast Travis Logie wasted no time announcing a full day of competition. Dreamy conditions at first glance. We could be about to witness the unraveling of a lingering Mid Year Curse and Jessi Miley-Dyer is nowhere to be seen. Coincidence? 

Our eyes. They steeng. Photo: WSL

Heat 1 of Women’s Round 1 navigates through the keyhole and onto a building groundswell. First set of the day goes to a local pod of dolphins. Brisa Hennessy follows suit and shows confidence and intent on the first human ride of the contest. Not surprisingly, she advances through to the Quarters, Stephanie Gilmore gets to surf perfect empty rights again, and Courtney Conlogue loses a side fin as Ethan Davis scrambles to book a ticket from Malé to Port Elizabeth to hand deliver a replacement. 

In a fortuitous convergence of events, or purely just a matter of seeding, the world’s #1 surfer Carissa Moore faces the world’s #1 Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco in Heat 2. Surefooted Carissa was looking right at home at Supers and negotiated the occasional morning sickness bump with power and finesse. Good luck taking this woman down! Gabriela Bryan came short in second with a respectable heat total of 14.17.

As if contradicting Paul Evans’ remark on Jeffrey’s Bay not favoring the goofies, Caroline Marks and Tatiana Weston-Webb dominated their opening round heats, though most of their opponents showed fine form. Looking at the opening round draw, there are no walkthrough heats. Any woman is a potential event winner.

Just not you, Tia Blanco, sorry.

Give this man a wave in the last two minutes, and he’ll give you the score. Photo: WSL


Peak performance: Matthew McGillivray in R1 H1, 15.33 points
Hit replay: Yago Dora (13.84) vs. Italo Ferreira (13.10) vs. Jordy Smith (10.50), R1 H2
Monster maneuver: Connor O’Leary’s heat turning wave @ 27:10 in R1 H8
One-liner: “I actually saw him physically!” – Peter Mel confirming Kelly Slater’s presence at the event.

Matthew McGillivray looked right at home and nimble like one only could when sleeping in his own bed. His ability to link critical turns and the occasional barrel without wasting sections was testament to his extensive local experience.  

Jordy followed suit and opened up his heat with a beautifully surfed wave, showcasing what we’ve been missing from him most of the year. Italo gave hints of having clicked into a new gear but the heat was to be Yago’s, taking off on a wider set wave in the dying minutes and elegantly belting it all the way to the inside for an 8.67. 

Luke Thompson wildcarded well above average and if not for a last-minute tube clinic by Jack Robinson, would’ve surely made some local punter a tad richer. An upset scenario taking place in his ER heat against Italo looms.

Sitting at number 3 in the world, it feels crazy to say that Italo Ferreira has had a rough year. But he has. How will he respond to the young local stud tomorrow? Photo: WSL

Local wildcard Joshe Faulkner had a very tough job ahead of him — drawing Camisa Amarela himself and backhand specialist Nat Young — but still gave it an enthusiastic go. Young came out victorious with powerful, sharp, and precise turns in the pocket. That’s twice he’s beaten Filipe in pumping surf this year.

The weight of expectation over North Stradbroke’s Ethan Ewing seems to have stifled some of his performances in past seasons. Far from wanting to jinx his 2022 run, it seems that Ethan is gradually cementing his position as a title contender for years to come. He breezed through his heat against Barron Mamiya and Jackson Baker without a muscle or hair out of place. Semis or better.

Samuel Pupo unsheathed a pristine white blade to easily take the win in his all-rookie heat against carpenter’s apprentice Callum Robson and real estate mogul Jake Marshall. Groms, take note: white boards look faster, dirty wax and bad airbrushes get points deducted.

Johanne Defay swimmingly took out Tia Blanco, to once again secure a place in the WSL Finals. In the day’s slowest heat, Tyler Wright sent world #3 Lakey Peterson packing after missing the last three events. She’ll need a big result here to claw her way back into the top 5 pre-Lowers. 

Utilizing her priority fiercely, Gabriela Bryan ended the day with a close win over Isabella Nichols.

Gabby B, solid as ever, genuine threat. Photo: WSL


Caught behind: Lakey Peterson in ER H3, 5.50 points
Blind mice: The nonexistence of a proper caddying arrangement is a major oversight.
Say what?: “She loves her cooking, she’s a passionate vegetarian.” Ronnie Blakey on Ultimate Surfer Tia Blanco

Courtney Conlogue surfed with all but one fin toward the end of her heat, Isabella Nichols broke the nose of her board during her opening round heat, Jack Robinson buckled his board halfway through his heat, and Tyler Wright swam in mid-ER with her tailpad floating to Madagascar.

It comes as no surprise why there weren’t caddies in the lineup (*Jaws theme song plays*), but the long paddle in, rock-hopping, replacing leash/fins and getting back to position with a potential priority loss, seemed counterproductive in the nerve-racking presence of a countdown timer, especially at this location. Wonder if we’ll see any ingenious or makeshift solutions to this in the coming days…

Kolohe seems as if he’s there, but not really. Head noise? Lack of interest? Either way, another chance against Jordan Michael Smith awaits. Surely, they can’t both lose.

Filipe Toledo goes into the elimination round along with Stab’s Senior Gambling Advisor, Michael Ciaramella’s pleasantly earned money.

Kelly Slater looked fully recovered from the injury that kept him out of Saquarema and into set waves at Kandui. Looking like he could perform at J-Bay with his eyes closed, he still fell off on turns that Kelly Slater doesn’t fall off on.

J-Bay was the third and final time we saw Tia Blanco competing as a wildcard. Tia finished the season with a 7.15 average heat score, not making it past the elimination round once. Certainly a great opportunity for Tia to further her competitive experience. Nonetheless, it brings to light the legitimacy of handing out wildcards for reality show antics.  

Adriano was ahead of his time. Photo: WSL


In recent times, celebrities have been spotted wearing apple earphones with cords in a nod to the early 2000’s. Perhaps floaters are the surfing equivalent? For all the bad press they’ve copped over the years, floaters remain functional, feel great to do, and provide ample retinal pleasure. I recently had a great urge to go out for a surf upon watching a variety of floaters performed as part of a Stab Highway challenge. If unconvinced, look up Andy Irons’ air to floater at Barra de La Cruz or his iconic rock-n-roll floaters. Tell me they’re no fun! Griffin, Jordy, Italo, Miguel Pupo and Kelly were among the crew that pulled them out of their repertoire today. One off-balance floater also cost Filipe his free pass to R3 (so maybe they’re not that easy after all).

Corona’s advertisements seem to now be targeting marine apex predators with their “Free Range Humans” campaign. Odd timing, but also further proof that Mick Fanning has been genetically engineered and therefore not recommended for shark consumption.

Contrary to all expectations, the word “shark” was unheard of from the entire commentary team, which was possibly the finest assemblage we’ve seen all year. Professional, knowledgeable, and no Kaipothermia-induced blunders made for a great viewing experience. 

P.S.: Go watch Stephanie Gilmore’s ER H2 waves sans commentary/royalty-free stock music.

Unfortunately for Courtney, she was like a frog getting slowly boiled by Ms. Gilmore.

Gamble Ramble

The first round of a CT event is commonly referred to as the ‘No Loser Round’. If only that applied to surf betting. 

Today, Mikey C nearly achieved the elusive ‘All Loser Round’, aka the Reverse Multi, aka the Big Short. Out of 9 surfers picked in Round 1, our so-called ‘betting shaman’ won just one heat, and it was the very last of the day (for the men).

Mikey’s x J-Bay campaign is off to a rocky start, but we’ll see if he can find the keyhole tomorrow. We’ve heard rumblings that there could be some huge wagers placed in men’s R2 — precisely what the gambling literature teaches you to do after a big loss. 

Event winner picks: 
– $20 on Griffin Colapinto at +1000 Elimination Round
– $20 on Kanoa Igarashi at +1400 R3
– $30 on Lakey Peterson at +700 LOST
– $30 on Johanne Defay at +800 QF
– $30 on Stephanie Gilmore at +600 QF
– $50 on Jordy Smith at +800 Elimination Round

Round 1 picks: 
– $20 on Tyler Wright at +165 LOST
– $20 on Johanne Defay at +150 LOST
– $20 on Stephanie Gilmore at +135 LOST
– $30 on Connor O’Leary at +185 WON
– $20 on Jackson Baker at +375 LOST
– $50 on Filipe Toledo at -250 LOST
– $20 on Kolohe Andino at +250 LOST
– $40 on Jordy Smith at +155 LOST

Day one earnings: -$165
Event earnings: -$165

Think you can do better? Place your bets here

Should have let this kid make our picks today. Photo: WSL


Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 10.33 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 9.03, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.03
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.50 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 14.17, Tia Blanco (USA) 7.24
HEAT 3: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.66 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.17, Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.67
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 13.33 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.97, Tyler Wright (AUS) 10.13

Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Elimination Round 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.10 DEF. Tia Blanco (USA) 6.64
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.87 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.34
HEAT 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.84 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 5.50
HEAT 4: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.94 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 10.83

Corona Open J-Bay Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 15.33 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.84, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.83
HEAT 2: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.84 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.10, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.50
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 15.17 DEF. Luke Thompson (ZAF) 14.77, Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.64
HEAT 4: Nat Young (USA) 14.50 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.40, Joshe Faulkner (ZAF) 7.13
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.34 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.50, Jackson Baker (AUS) 6.30
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.54 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.93, Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.10
HEAT 7: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 12.57 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 9.77, Jake Marshall (USA) 9.43
HEAT 8: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.33 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.56, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.07

Corona Open J-Bay Men’s Elimination Round Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Joshe Faulkner (ZAF)
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Luke Thompson (ZAF)
HEAT 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 6: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 7: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)


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