The storm hit in the early evening the night before the start.
It was so fast and ferocious that the obvious assumption was that the swell was going to race past Supertubes, not turn around the corner, and that the contest venue would be flat. Many of us got a slow start to the morning, and when KP announced an 8 am start, it was a surprise to many.
Let’s face it, official forecaster Surfline were conservative and shy on calling a day of surfing for Monday, opting to choose the more definite Tuesday and Wednesday as go-to days. The local websites were all thinking a maybe-lunch-time start, and local yokel surfers and fishermen from JBay were not expecting anything like an early start.
The first heat of the day was surprisingly consistent, and local boys Jordy Smith and Mikey February both looked like they were going to give it some of their A-Game, but it wasn’t to be, with both surfers neatly outpointed by Frederico Morais from Portugal. Morais was a runner-up last year, and knows his way around the at-times complicated lineup, and surfed tight and fast for an uncomplicated win.
Despite the screaming offshore winds, the waves remained remarkably contestable, and Kelly Slater hit the water in heat three against Kanoa Igarashi and Italo Ferreira. Slater chose to sit further down the point, hoping for a few Carpark sections, but he didn't seem really into it, and was in cruise mode from the outset. Seems his foot wasn't so good yet, and he was just cruising around, trying to get a few scraps. Sometime after his heat, Slater revealed that he was actually in the area for an ad shoot (Breitling Watches) and paddled out just to do the right thing. In retrospect however, Slater proved a little disappointed that he didn't try a bit harder, in what was a fairly low scoring heat. To keep the interest soaring however, Slater also announced that his goal is to get as fit as possible for next year, as it would be his last year on tour!
Talking of last year on tour, Parko did officially announce that this would be his last year on tour. Contemplating going into the Aussie leg in 2019, Parko eventually squashed that idea and decided that Pipe would be the place for him to finish his 18-year career. Pipe was the venue that saw him clinch his world title, and will be the place that finishes his pro career. To celebrate, Parko went on to win his first round heat with ease, looking as smooth and calm as usual, leaving the yellow-jerseyed Jeep Leaderboard ratings leader Julian Wilson and wildcard Matt McGillivray in his wake.
Kolohe Andino clicked in against wildcard Mikey Wright and Pat Gudauskas, pulling off a massive alley oop, with the wind whistling from behind; with no hands assist for a score of 7.60 and the heat win. The next surfer to click in was the new dad Jeremy Flores. He was surfing fast and snappy, and seemed to be in a happy place, less angry, less tense. That place might just be the place that he needs to be to win heats, and his post heat interview was all smiles and jokes, and it was great to see the man in a happy place.
Talking about the post-heat interview, thank the Pope I was watching it live. It seems the online consternation surrounding the webcast Facebook migration was fierce, and there was a whole lot of online condemnation of the decision. I couldn’t really be fucked, as I was in the freezing wind, on one of the coldest days of the year in JBay, watching it all go down. Much better.
It almost all went down in the first heat of round 2, as wildcard McGillivray once again came up against Julian Wilson. The local came alive in the heat, showing no nerves and determination for a huge win. At the mid-point of the heat McGillivray was in the lead, albeit a slender lead, but he was looking aggressive and hungry. Wilson kicked on however, and slid into the lead with a smooth and radical approach. McGillivray answered back, as the local supporters went wild. Chasing an 8.5, he banked a valiant 7.57, dropping the biggest score of the heat, and it was game on. McGillivray went for a few massive air reverses, surfing out of his skin, but it wasn't to be, and a brave effort from the local youngster wasn't enough…
With three more days of firing surf heading for JBay, there’s a good chance that the men’s event will be done and dusted by Thursday, the best-looking day of surf on the horizon. Hold steady…
Men’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.93, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.17, Michael February (ZAF) 7.24
Heat 2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.03, Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.67, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 6.66
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.50, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.94, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.73
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.83, Tomas Hermes (BRA) 7.83, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 6.73
Heat 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.84, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.14, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 10.67
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.10, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.90, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 9.86
Heat 7: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.30, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.76, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 11.06
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 16.14, Joan Duru (FRA) 15.67, Owen Wright (AUS) 12.73
Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.87, Mikey Wright (AUS) 13.26, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.00
Heat 10: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.23, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.67, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.23
Heat 11: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.63, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 12.23, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 10.94
Heat 12: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.80, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.07, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.96
Men’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 (H1-2) Results:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.43 def. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 13.50
Heat 2: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 11.77 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 9.73
Men’s Corona Open J-Bay Remaining Round 2 (H3-12) Matchups:
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 5: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Michael February (ZAF)
Heat 7: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 8: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 10: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 11: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 12: Tomas Hermes (BRA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Women’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Lakey Peterson (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Keely Andrew (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 6: Carissa Moore (HAW), Caroline Marks (USA), Coco Ho (HAW)