An average wave at Supertubes is still magic.
After about five years of absolutely incredible waves at Supers for the Corona JBay Open, it is a fair assumption that there will be an event one year without firing surf. This might be the year, but there is a massive caveat to that statement, and that is the fact that an average wave or an average swell at Supertubes still leaves it in the world-class zone.
“Today looks pretty good,” said a radiant Rosy Hodge, en route to setting up for the day’s work.
“It actually looks like the best day of the week, possibly of the entire event” muttered someone else standing nearby, sucking despondently on an early morning ciggie. He started coughing. In the distance, a dog barked. We were back in JBay, and while things had changed, things were still very much the same.
Clean and strong three-foot conditions, with low tide sometime around the middle of the day meant that there were actually plenty of great waves around, a few slightly bigger ones, and enough points being awarded to deem it a fine day’s surfing.
Gabby, Italo and Kanoa were the obvious first heat winners, all putting in superior performances in the seeding round, with no real fireworks to write home about and no big surprises. Jordy Smith looked energized and looked like he had a bit of hunger, and then Filipe Toledo changed the scale, as he unwittingly tends to do.
Mikey February was his usual silky smooth self out there and the crowds were roaring their approval. It looked like he was going to be the main man, but Filipe was full-throttle. His two waves were reminiscent of his final day’s surfing last year. Fast, electric and mind-blowingly radical. He does literally throw caution to the wind when in a competitive zone, and goes into a bit a frenzy in an almost frantic bid for scores. In between trying to find the best ramps on every single wave he was hitting sections, performing speed carves, down carves, and critical s-turns to gather even more speed for the next turn. He was the fastest man in the water, and he banked a 9.10 and an 8.50 for a massive heat score of 17.60, without any airs on his scoring rides. With the highest score of day one under the belt, he’s going to be really hard to beat this year.
Kelly Slater’s performance was also inspired, and he was obviously trying his hardest to gain ground at this crucial time. Word from his camp is that he is totes focused on the event, dead-set on a result. I bumped in to Pete Mel and we chatted briefly about the heat. “Impressive heat,” reckoned Mel. “He looked totally relaxed.”
True words, he did, but he ended up getting beaten by Seabass, so maybe a little too relaxed, despite being an obvious favourite from the local fans and spectators. As he came in, over a particularly gnarly rock shelf I might add, the kids flocked like lemmings and he graciously dealt with everyone, signing, posing, smiling, and just being the cool Kelly that everyone in JBay loves so much. Everyone loves the champ.
It's a big ole set-up this year in JBay, with a very festive vibe on the beach and with the Vibe In The Park music festival going on as well. There is also a comedy festival and all sorts of other activities going down. With a friendly partnership with Red Bull and a very good business partnership with Corona, the Corona JBay Open is in its own class altogether. When stars align and the waves are good like today, it is one of the best surf contest scenarios that can be imagined.
Last year’s runner-up Wade Carmichael put it altogether in the last heat of the men’s seeding round, once again showing his affinity with Supertubes, as well as his specific form of affability that everyone enjoys. He’s stoked to be on the tour, he knows he’s a very lucky person, and it comes across that he really appreciates every moment of his professional surfing career. Whether this is all true or whether it’s just the warmth I’m feeling after a few Coronas on the beach, it’s always nice to be nice, or as we say in South Africa, ‘it’s lekker to be lekker.’
So let’s all be lekker.