An on the ground perspective on the spectacle that was this year’s J-Bay Open.
I was standing on the boardwalk this morning as the waves started appearing in the dark. Alongside me was Shaun Tomson. The first wave we saw was about eight foot, and this unknown dude got around a big section and stood up straight in the biggest tube we had seen all week. There have been a lot of tubes so far in J-Bay.
“Look at that barrel!” Said the 1977 World Champion.
“It’s the best day of the competition so far,” said Greg, and marched off to start the contest along with Gigs.
Filipe showed what he was worth in the first quarterfinal against Jordy. He banked a 9.5 and followed it up with a 9.2, and he did it by getting barreled. Jordy tried hard to catch up, and if anyone, Jordy knows how to catch up. He came back from a combination situation in 2010 against Bede in the semifinal to win and eventually win the whole contest. Not today though, as Filipe was just running circles.
Frederico Morais was also in giant-killing mood as he thwarted Gabby in their semi-final. The goofy-footer was on his game, but when Supers is solid, low tide and screaming offshore, the whole playing field becomes so vast, and it’s almost like everyone gets more of a chance. If you are a World Championship level surfer and you get the opportunity to catch two perfect six-foot waves at Supertubes and don’t do anything stupid, you have a good chance of getting an excellent score.
Filipe on the other hand, has turned into the fastest surfer in the world, and even Fanning acknowledged that. He was the fastest, threw down some of the biggest airs, and he rode some of the best barrels of the whole contest. He was a man on a mission.
Unbelievably, a whale passed through the line-up mid-morning, but not close enough to put the event on hold. It was just politely monitored as it past down from Boneyards and carried on going out to sea.
Which brings us back to yesterday’s shark sighting. It was a beefy chap who decided to cruise through the lineup. Fairly languid and relaxed, the shark was just heading on down the coast, and happened to be passing a surf contest. What was uncanny however was that it was exactly two years ago, to the day, that we had another incident with a shark. How uncanny that Mick was also in the water? Two years to the day, Mick Fanning, Great White Shark. Do you believe in coincidence? Some people don't.
The final started off strong, and both Frederico and Filipe were flying down the line, getting barreled, doing massive hooks and laying down power carves and rail turns all over the shop. It was a high scoring heat from the get-go, which can be expected for the final of a Championship Tour contest in perfect surf at Supertubes. Towards the end there was a bit of rain, the tide filled in, and it went a little quiet. It was probably the first time it had gone quiet since the event started, the previous Friday. Frederico needed an 8.60, and he picked up a final wave. It was small, but it had wall, and it definitely opened up for a few turns. Fred however, decided to kick out in the hope that there was one more. There wasn't.
“Rookie mistake,” said someone from the peanut gallery as we watched the wave he kicked out of run down to Impossibles. One big air and he could have got the score. Maybe. “He is a rookie though,” was the deadpan reply from some other peanut.
Definitely the best contest I have attended in JBay, and I’ve been to a lot down here. Was it possibly one of the best Championship Tour events of all time?
You can be the judge of that.