Saffas Battle on Home Turf

July 14, 2023
KANOA CAN: Kanoa Igarashi had a good start to his JBay campaign. Image WSL / AVG

Corona Open J-Bay wildcard Adin Masencamp, J-Bay local Matthew McGillivray and tour standout Jordy Smith must battle it out in the Elimination Round when the event continues after glassy 3-5ft waves on Day 1 today.

McGillivray came only .34 short of an advancing spot in his battle with Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Ryan Cullinan (AUS). The three Saffas will face Ethan Ewing (AUS), Barron Mamiya (HAW) and Caio Ibelli (BRA) respectively in their next heat to keep their campaigns alive.

The threatened onshore eventually kicked in - spectators could see the patch of ruffled ocean advance just before 1pm - during the second last heat, with Jordy unfortunately in the final heat that was really starting to show crumbly, miff conditions. Beautiful glassy 3-4ft, with the odd five foot set, conditions ran up to that point.

By 2pm, all 8 men's opening heats were done in the 9th stop on the WSL Championship Tour. It looks like the next decent swell is only coming through Tuesday and Wednesday next week, unless its decided to run more heats in small surf. The next call will be tomorrow at 7:45am but the swell looks decidedly smaller, and a northerly devils breeze is due.

The GOAT Kelly Slater was also a little off today, taking a third in his heat against Griffin Colapinto (USA) 16.17 and Liam O'Brien (AUS). Apparently, he is nursing an injury.

A winner and three-time runner-up this season on tour, Griffin Colapinto (USA) continued to show an incredible run of form in his opening heat at J-Bay. The Californian started with a classic approach on the wave face on his first wave for a 7.67 (out of a possible 10) and launched into a massive straight air for an excellent 8.50 later in the heat to post a convincing win into the Round of 16.

FAN BASE: Supporters get behind their local hero Matt McGillivray. Image WSL / AVG

“It’s a beautiful morning and there’s a really good turnout, a lot of people came out and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year,” Colapinto said. “Coming back from Brazil I went all in on my preparation and tried to do everything I could to make sure I’m ready. I’ve done this my whole life and at this point I feel like I’ve learned every lesson in the book so there’s no need to overthink things, I just need to let things happen.”

The current World No.1 Filipe Toledo (BRA) came out victorious in an epic clash with Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and local wildcard Adin Masencamp (RSA).

Winner twice in the past on the long rights of Jeffreys Bay, the Brazilian showed confidence in his approach as he waited a long time for his first wave but made sure to convert with powerful rail surfing in the lip to distance himself from his opponents.

Saffas Battle on Home Turf
When I picture surfing with someone on waves like this, it’s just too perfect.

“It’s pretty slow but when the wave comes it’s perfect,” Toledo said. “I knew I’d have opportunities so I stayed patient and it paid off. I felt at my 100% in that heat, no pain, no bubbles or lack of confidence so it felt really good.”

Former World Champions Italo Ferreira (BRA), John John Florence (HAW) and Medina were also standouts in the air. Ferreira and Florence went on a nail-biting matchup, eventually going Florence’s way for a spot into the Round of 16. All three surfers currently sitting outside the Top 5, need a big result in the last two events of the regular season for a chance to fight for the ultimate crown at the Rip Curl WSL Finals later this year.

“It feels great to be back here and surf nice clean walls before the wind came up,” Medina said. “The forecast looks pretty good so I’m excited to surf this event. When I picture surfing with someone on waves like this, it’s just too perfect. ”

Brazil’s Joao Chianca (BRA) and Yago Dora (BRA) also made their way into the Round of 16 with wins in their debut performance in this event. Dora turned the heat with seconds on the clock with an insane backhand rotation landed perfectly for a near-perfect 9.27.

Out of the current WSL Top 5, only World No.3 Ethan Ewing (AUS) failed to advance in first out of the Opening Round and will need to battle it out in the Elimination Round when the event resumes.

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Men’s Opening Round Results:

H 1 J Chianca (BR) 11.5 > S Moniz (HW) 10.17 B Mamiya (HW) 6.37
H 2 R Waida (IN) 14.1 > E Ewing (AUS) 11.67 C Ibelli (BR) 9.17
H 3 G Colapinto (US) 16.17 > L O'Brien (AUS) 8.26 K Slater (US) 7.44
H 4 F Toledo (BR) 15.27 > K Igarashi (JP) 14.33 A Masencamp (SA) 9.43
H 5 Y Dora (BR) 16.27 > C O'Leary (AUS) 13.53 I Gentil (HW) 10.4
H 6 JJ Florence (HW) 15.27 > I Ferreira (BR) 14.34 C Robson (AUS) 3.7
H 7 G Medina (BR) 14 > M McGillivray (SA) 13.67 R Callinan (AUS) 12.93
H 8 L Fioravanti (IT) 12.07 > J Smith (SA) 9.1 J Robinson (AUS) 6.93

Men’s Elimination Round Matchups:

HEAT 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs Adin Masencamp (RSA)
HEAT 2: Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs Callum Robson (AUS)
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs Kelly Slater (USA)
HEAT 4: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs Matthew McGillivray (RSA)
HEAT 5: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs Seth Moniz (HAW)
HEAT 6: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs Jordy Smith (RSA)
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs Ian Gentil (HAW)
HEAT 8: Liam O'Brien (AUS) vs Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)

Women’s Opening Round Matchups:

Heat 1: M Picklum (AUS) vs C Simmers (USA) vs Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
Heat 2: C Moore (HAW) vs L Peterson (USA) vs Sarah Baum (RSA)
Heat 3: T Wright (AUS) vs T Weston-Webb (BRA) vs J Defay (FRA)
Heat 4: C Marks (USA) vs S Gilmore (AUS) vs B Sakura Johnson (HAW)