This Is Not About Sharks: Stab’s Picks For The J-Bay Open
Damien Fahrenfort is biased, but thoughtful!
J-Bay this year is going to be one for the record books. This sounds terribly cliched, but I think whatever happens at J-Bay will dictate the outcome of the 2016 world title. Regardless of the quality of surf, the way this year is panning out, it’s going to be terribly exciting. Wilko has been the best backhand surfer out at J-Bay since Occy – huge call, I know, but his surfing out there the last few years has been incredible. As for my picks, they’re a little all over the show but for J-Bay, I decided to go off who’s the most due for a win.
Mr Wilson might’ve been last year’s winner if things had gone his way in the final against Mick… and said opponent didn’t get pulled off his board by a shark.
Remember in my Snapper picks when I said Jules’ surfing doesn’t match the speed of the wave? Well, J-Bay, much like Margs, matches the speed of Julian’s surfing perfectly. Julian just needs to get out of his head and start surfing heats like he freesurfs. Next to Gabs, he’s the most well-rounded surfer on tour, but as soon as he puts that contest jersey on he loses his magic and it’s almost like you can see him thinking about what he’s going to do. Equal first last year, possible winner this year.
Mick’s iconic swoop greatly enhances the groomed canvas of J-Bay.
Mick Fanning… If his ankle is ok.
Hobbling around with a moon boot doesn’t look good for his chances to win this year, but a little misfortune doesn’t stop Mick. Mr Fanning has opted to try and requalify this year through the CT, instead of taking the year off and jumping back on the following year – something that’s only reserved for world champs. A further case-in-point for what a legend he is. Anyway, Mick looked flawless last year and was leaps and bounds ahead of everyone. Although he didn’t get a chance to win the final, he was never going to lose, even if he got the worse waves in that now-famous heat. When Supers is that awkward four feet and howling offshore size, there ain’t a surfer in the world that will beat Mick out there.
Admittedly, Jordy’s performance at the 2015 event was not wonderful, hence this photo from the 2014 event – a moment which better captures his relationship with the wave.
Surely it’s going to happen for Jordy at J-Bay. He’s surfing as good as ever and I know I’ve said this before but he’s due. Jordy is so pumped on surfing and he’s got some great new sleds under his feet from CI. While he was pretty gutted he missed the warm up surfs at J-Bay the past few days, I think it was a good thing. Less time to get nervous thinking about it all. Arrive and get straight into it. Jordy will have Chris Gallagher there with him this year and they have a good formula: Disperse lots of water.
Parko, about to unfurl his wings down the line of a wave he will forever be inextricably linked to, since winning here as a rookie in 1999.
Joel is pretty due too and I’d be stoked to see him get another win. While he’s definitely lost his hunger to win, I think competing at J-Bay will reignite that fire. Joel has been really fortunate that not since Jordy has a surfer gotten on tour with the same rail work and smooth style like him. Unfortunately the tables turned on Joel, he went from getting overscored to drastically underscored, so if he’s getting scored appropriately at J-Bay there’s a good chance he could win out there.
Does Adriano’s grit and pluckiness offend you? Don’t hate; Celebrate!
Adriano De Souza
The only small guy on tour that can mix it up with the big boys when it comes to wetting the rail. Sure it’s not as pretty, but Adriano has won J-Bay before (2013, when it was a WQS event) and is more than capable of winning it again. Adriano hasn’t had the best year in 2016 but I think he’ll find his world champion feet again at J-Bay. Watch for him picking off the wide waves in his heats on the paddle back out. Adriano always turns these ones into scores.
Can you believe Gabriel pasted this? He doesn’t care for rules about whether or not a spot is an “air wave” – surprise is the name of Mr Medina’s game.
Best backhand result: Gabs Medina
Gabs has the best backhand in the world. I know it’s a tough argument when Wilko has just won Bells and Snapper but Gabs is just so much more powerful. The way he squares up off the bottom and turns off the top is so explosive. If you haven’t seen the thickness of Gabs boards, they’re about 2 1/2” on the rail, which is like Jordy’s boards. The kid is strong and I think he rides them so thick so he can turn so hard on his backhand. His style is just a bit ugly and sometimes it gets a bit repetitive because his technique is so good. This makes the first sentence a bit hypocritical but if Gabs can get a quarter or better at J-Bay he’ll be on his way to win the title this year.
Best rookie result: Conner Coffin
Conner’s surfing, like Jordy’s or Dane’s, really suits Supers. He has a unique ability to turn the speed on and off when he needs to and do one big manoeuvre on a wave that leaves a lasting impression, so the rest of a wave he can surf a bit safer. This is Conner’s chance to catch up to Ciao on the rankings to win Rookie of The Year.
PS: The contest will be put on hold at least twice from the shark prevention system they’ll be running at J Bay this year.
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