Small Swell at first for JBay

August 9, 2023
CUTBACK KING: Filipe Toledo nails a huge roundhouse hack last year at the Corona Open JBay. Image WSL / Ryder

Small swell in store at first for Corona Open J-Bay, which starts in a week as the best surfers return to the fabled lines of Supertubes for the penultimate battle to decide the final five.

Only the Rip Curl WSL Finals lie after JBay, so the latter is going to be pivotal in the World Title race. The Corona Open J-Bay runs from Thursday, July 13 until Saturday, July 22. Surf conditions have been off the charts lately, with swell all over the coast, including pumping surf at the second-biggest surfing event in SA after JBay: the Ballito Pro, which goes into its sixth day today.

A gigantic storm moves below the country this weekend, with HUGE swell set for the Eastern Cape but by the time JBay begins, its much smaller, although probably enough ambient swell to run in 2-4ft waves on the Friday 14th, and then looks small until hopefully another big winter front the week after.

World Champions Carissa Moore (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS) have clinched their spots in the WSL Final 5, leaving only three women’s spots open. All of the men’s WSL Final 5 spots remain unclaimed but that could quickly change in J-Bay.

The race to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 is also tightening. There are 10 men's and four women's places still on the line, and the points from J-Bay will be critical in deciding who will represent their country in Tahiti next year.

Five-time World Champion and current World No. 1, Carissa Moore (HAW), comes to J-Bay with some pressure off her back as she recently clinched a spot in the WSL Final 5. She is now hoping to claim the top spot heading into the Rip Curl WSL Finals. Moore knows what it takes to find success at J-Bay as she won this event in 2019 and finished in third-place last year.

CROWDED HOUSE: The 2022 iteration was a huge comeback after the crazy Covid era. Image WSL/AVG

Reigning World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) has reclaimed the yellow Leader jersey after former No. 1 Griffin Colapinto (USA) suffered an early exit from competition in Brazil. Toledo had back-to-back wins at J-Bay in 2017 and 2018. His perfect-10 for a double alley-oop during the contest in 2017 was a benchmark moment for performance on Tour.

Defending event winners Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) will be hoping for another win here in South Africa in order to secure their spots in the WSL Final 5. Weston-Webb currently sits just below the Top 5 at No. 6 on the rankings. After his runner-up finish in Brazil, Ewing has moved up to No. 3. If Ewing makes it to the WSL Finals he could become the first Australian man to win a World Title since Mick Fanning in 2013.

Small Swell at first for JBay

Jeffreys Bay, known as J-Bay, is revered as one of the world's best right-hand pointbreaks, er, as we all know.  The iconic, endless wave offers barrels, air sections, and room for large maneuvers. The Eastern Cape is known for its world-class waves and breathtaking landscapes, food and dining, and wildlife experiences. A number of surfing greats have dominated this event over the years including Mick Fanning (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), and Lisa Andersen (AUS).

11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) was absent from Brazil due to an ongoing illness but will return to competition at J-Bay. He is looking for his first event win of the season and it could be here as he has won this event four times. Reigning 8-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) had an early exit in Brazil and slid to No. 6 on the rankings. She needs a solid result here to regain herself in World Title contention.

South Africa's Adin Masencamp and Sarah Baum have been confirmed as the men's and women's event wildcards as WSL Africa’s highest-ranked surfers on the Challenger Series rankings. Masencamp is currently ranked No. 17 and Baum is No. 8. This will be the first CT appearance for both of them and they will be cheered on by their home crowd. Masencamp has a huge ask in his opening heat against Toledo and Igarashi, and it doesn't get much tougher for Baum, who faces Moore and Peterson in her opener. Good luck guys!

Women’s Opening Round Matchups:

Heat 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Sarah Baum (RSA)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 4: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)

Men’s Opening Round Matchups:

Heat 1: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
Heat 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Rio Waida (INA)
Heat 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Liam O'Brien (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Adin Masencamp (RSA)
Heat 5: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Callum Robson (AUS)
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA)
Heat 8: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA)