J-Bay Winterfest welcomes top surfers

JBay Winterfest welcomes top surfers for Corona Open J-Bay

The world’s top surfers have arrived in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, for Stop No. 6 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Corona Open J-Bay. The event window opens today and runs until July 23, 2017 and will resume this season’s thrilling title race, with the top five athletes on the Jeep Leaderboard separated by just 600 points.

Top surfers for Corona Open J-Bay

From L to R: Dale Staples, Matt Wilkinson, Jordy Smith, John John Florence, Mick Fanning and Adriano De Souza at the press session for the Corona Open J-Bay. Credit: © WSL / Tostee

Current No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard Matt Wilkinson (AUS) returns to South Africa this year wearing the Jeep Leader Jersey at this event for the second season running after his recent win at Stop No. 5 in Fiji. The Australian will need a strong result at Jeffreys Bay to retain the yellow jersey with four surfers close behind him on the rankings. Wilkinson will match up against Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) in Round 1.

“Coming into the last event the Jeep Leader Jersey didn’t even seem like an option so to come out of Fiji back in the yellow jersey is great,” Wilkinson said at the press session today. “At this stage last year I had a pretty solid lead for the first time in my career, which really came out of the blue. Now I feel like it’s different and there’s four guys right behind me by only a few hundred points. I’m really excited to be back in this position and hopefully this year I don’t fall off so many times out here and I can win a few heats.

“Last year I came here in a strange situation and it was a bit scary,” continued Wilkinson. “Now I know that unless I keep attacking for the rest of the year I’m not going to keep this position. I’m more aware of what it’s going to take and I’m definitely excited. It’s about time I step it up and win this for the goofy-footers. When it was big and pumping out here in 2014 it felt like the best back-hand surfing I’ve ever done. The forecast is looking really good so hopefully I can do it again.”

Reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) sits just 250 points behind Wilkinson and the 2016 event finalist will meet Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Dale Staples (ZAF) in Round 1.

“J-Bay was a great event for me last year and surfing in that final with Mick (Fanning) was incredible,” Florence said. “I’m excited to get some waves this year and hope we get some firing barrels. My goal is to win another world title for sure but you never know what happens and there’s still a lot of events to go. I learnt a lot last year and I’m going to keep working hard and keep learning.”

Three-time WSL Champion and four-time event winner Mick Fanning (AUS) is yet to make it beyond the Quarterfinals this season and sits outside the Top 10 in 13th place coming into the event. The defending event winner is one of the most dominant surfers at Jeffreys Bay and in need of a strong result to move up the rankings. Fanning will take on Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and Joan Duru (FRA) in Round 1 of competition.

“I really feel at home here and so comfortable and relaxed,” said Fanning. “The people are so nice and the wave is amazing. When you come to a wave you love then the excitement levels really goes up and I feel much more motivated. I get up early in the dark each morning to check the surf and I can’t wait for things to get underway. This is a place that I really look forward to each year.”

Two-time event winner and the sole South African on the Championship Tour Jordy Smith (ZAF) is currently tied in third place on the Jeep Leaderboard. Fresh from victory at the Ballito Pro Qualifying Series 10,000 event, Smith looks in fine form and will battle Conner Coffin (USA) and Michael February (ZAF) in Round 1.

Jordy Smith in action

Jordy Smith in action during his victory at the Bells Beach Pro in Australia at Easter – Photo: WSL / Sloane

“This is by far one of my favorite places in the world and I love coming here each year,” said Smith. “I don’t feel much pressure surfing in front of my home crown because I’ve surfed here my whole life. The year for me has been great so far but it’s such a tight world title race. I’m extremely thankful and excited to be in the position I’m in now and I don’t think I’ve been this excited since I qualified for the tour. My year starts now and I know I’ve got to put my head down and give it everything.”

2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) sits in equal third place on the Jeep Leaderboard. With a win at Supertubes in 2012 when the event was on the Qualifying Series and a string of Quarterfinal finishes, the Brazilian is keen to improve upon his past results. De Souza will surf against Frederico Morais (PRT) and Jadson Andre (BRA) in Round 1.

“I definitely feel better now than in 2015 when I was carrying the yellow jersey for six events and felt a lot of pressure,” said De Souza. “I’m feeling great and very blessed to be back here. I’ve been here for two weeks so I’ve had some time to work on my surfing and get some time before everyone else got here. I want so badly to win this contest – I’m excited and want to do well. I’m trying not to bring pressure to the ocean. 2012 was such a special year and those memories are some that I’ll keep forever and this year I hope we have waves like that again. We have a different story and a different scenario this year and I can see everyone really fighting for the world title here in Jeffreys Bay this year.”

Local surfer Dale Staples (ZAF) will join the WSL Top 34 as a wildcard after winning the 2017 edition of the JBU Supertrials and takes on Florence and 2017 WSL Rookie Ian Gouveia (BRA) in the opening Round of competition.

JBU Supertrials Jeffreys Bay

Dale Staples from St Francis Bay won the 2017 edition of the JBU Supertrial -AlanvanGysen

“Surfing J-Bay with just a couple of guys is just incredible and I can’t wait,” said Staples. “When I first competed here I was new on the QS but I’ve had had some more time now and I’m more confident and feeling much better about competing this year.”

Staples will be joined by fellow South African Michael February (ZAF) who has been awarded the second WSL wildcard after a stellar run of results on the Qualifying Series (QS) this year. February will face Smith and Conner Coffin (USA) in Round 1.

“I’m really, really happy about the wildcard for J-Bay,” said February. “Reaching the Semis at Ballito was such a cool achievement and then when Travis Logie (WSL Deputy Commissioner) told me about the wildcard I was really stoked.

“I was given an injury replacement spot at J-Bay in 2015, but that was a last minute decision so this time I have a little more time to prepare for it,” continued February. “The forecasts look like the event will start a couple of days into the window period and after this last result I’m feeling comfortable and couldn’t be better prepared for going into a CT event.”

Corona, title partner of the event, will be showcasing their partnership with Parley at the event and reinforcing their commitment to protect the oceans, bringing Parley for the Oceans’ AIR strategy to end marine plastic pollution (Avoid; Intercept; Redesign plastic) to a WSL audience. Corona and Parley for the Oceans are working together to apply this thinking to the event and are developing several initiatives to reduce the plastic footprint of the Corona Open J-Bay event, educate surfers and audiences about the need to develop more responsible behaviors when it comes to single-use plastic, and raise global awareness of this issue.

Surfline, official forecaster for the Corona Open J-Bay, are calling for:

Small/fun SSW swell will build through Wednesday before easing on Thursday. A larger swell is expected to build through Friday before temporarily trending down on Saturday. Medium size (or possibly better) SSW swells are lining up for Sunday and Tuesday as well.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

Corona Open J-Bay Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Conner Coffin (USA), Michael February (ZAF)
Heat  6: John John Florence (HAW), Ian Gouveia (BRA), Dale Staples (ZAF)
Heat  7: Kolohe Andino (USA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat  8: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat  9: Connor O’Leary (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Mick Fanning (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)

Surfers Conquer Victory-at-Sea

Tubewave at Melkbosstrand Produces Chunky Waves in Huge Swell

A giant swell and strong crosswinds did not prevent the competitors in the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill, from producing excellent performances in what can only be described as ‘victory-at-sea’ conditions on the opening day at Melkbosstrand north of Cape Town on Thursday.

With whitewater from the beach to the horizon, Tubewave maintained its shape with the waves reforming on the inside and providing those with paddle power and resolve the opportunity to rack up scores in the excellent range – over 8.0 points out of a possible 10.

Daiki Tanaka (JPN) showed the way in the second heat, opening his account with an 8.0 before adding and even better 8.83, and then closing out the 20 minute encounter with an action packed ride that earned a near-perfect 9.33, to deliver the highest heat total of the day with 18.16 out of 20.

Liam O’Brien (AUS), competing in just his second overseas QS event, was another to pack two excellent range scores into his total, coming up with the second highest total of the day, 17.73, that included a 9.23 and an 8. 50. That left his three opponents in a combination situation and needing to replace both their counting scores.

“That heat went really well. I couldn’t hear the scores out there but I managed to find myself on a couple of fun waves, and it looked like everyone got a few,” said O’Brien. “It was just a good heat, plenty of exchanges and I’m just stoked to come out on top. This has been a really good trip, South Africa is such an amazing place for waves, so diverse. I went up to Durban for the 3,000 and it was fun there, warm water and beach breaks But here its colder with plenty of raw ocean power – it’s been good to surf all the different conditions in the first two QS events I’ve done overseas.”

Cristobal de Col (PER) was another who enjoyed the powerful Cape waves and felt really at home in the conditions to advance to the next round.
Cristobal de Col at Jordy Smith Cape Town

Cristobal de Col (PER) finds a clean green wall in the victory-at-sea conditions that prevailed at Melkbos on Thursday for the opening day of the Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro pres. by O’Neill
Photo: WSL / Thurtell

“I made it through so it was a good heat for me,” said de Col. “The conditions are really tricky, it’s very consistent but a real mess out there. I really love the power of the wave and the shape, it has a big wall. It’s my first time in Cape Town and I’m loving it. I love the vibe of the people and it feels like home – like a real family vibe.

Powerfully built South African Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) had fun in his heat and was happy to advance to the last 64 in the event as he prepares for the Championship Tour event at Jeffreys Bay after winning the wildcard in solid surf at Supertubes earlier this month.

“Its super fun, there are really nice double-ups coming through but it’s a helluva lot of paddling because of the bigger swell coming through and the wind,” said Staples after winning his heat. “I’ve doing really bad in the local series, but I’m looking forward to the J-Bay CT, so it’s good to get a couple of warm-up waves for that. You usually have to get used to the cold water in Cape Town, but it’s really warm today, warmer than the air.”

Dale Staples wins JBU Supertrial

Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen came down to support the event and to hand the winner’s trophy to Dale Staples after winning the JBU Supertrial. © Van Gysen

Organisers completed the 16 heats in Round 1 of the men’s event on Thursday and will continue with Round 2 where the top 32 seeded surfers in the event enter the fray. All eyes will be on local hero and current world No. 3 Jordy Smith who will be coming up in Heat 8 at approximately 11am.

While he is the event sponsor, along with multi-national surf equipment O’Neill, Smith faces serious competition from the likes of former CT campaigner Alex Ribeiro (BRA), who won the QS3,000 event in Durban last weekend, and a host of hungry QS competitors.

The QS1,000 women’s event will get underway on Saturday morning, followed by the JQS1,000 junior men’s and women’s events.

The swell is expected to drop marginally from today’s seven metres to around five metres on Friday. It is anticipated that the organisers will get Round 2 underway soon after 8am.

An outreach programme will be conducted by Surfing South Africa (SSA) on Sunday 25 June. Participants from local outreach organisations will be involved in beach activities, water coaching, a tag team contest and beach relays with all participants receiving breakfast, lunch and a commemorative medal.

Live scoring, news, photos and video’s will be available at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App. which is a free download. Daily highlights can be found on the WSL QS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The Jordy Smith Cape Town Surf Pro is proudly supported by O’Neill, City of Cape Town, Tsogo Sun, Skullcandy, El Jimador, Yesman, World Surf League, Surfing South Africa and Accelerate Sport.

Local wins JBU

Local surfer Dale Staples Wins The 2017 JBU Supertrial

JBU Supertrials Jeffreys Bay

In firing surf at Supertubes, Dale Staples from St Francis Bay won the 2017 edition of the JBU Supertrial by powering through some of the biggest and deepest barrels of the day. Staples was in rhythm with the ocean from the start, picking up all the best waves on his route to the final.

It was a cold and blustery JBay morning, but there were sets at first light and the contest organisers showed no hesitation in calling the event on. As the freezing offshore wind picked up, so the invited surfers hit the perfect lineup, with consistent six-foot waves pouring through.

Former Championship Tour surfer Greg Emslie was a surprise elimination from round one, after leading for most of the heat. Greg caught a particularly long wave, and after his final turn and kicking out, found himself facing a huge set in front of the reef.  “I got caught inside by a big set and pushed onto the reef,” said Greg. “By the time I surfaced from the first wave there was another one, and more behind it. I hit the reef again and eventually got washed all the way down and came in.”

Former event champion Dylan Lightfoot and defending champion Steven Sawyer did not disappoint however, and both won their first round heats. With a wildcard into the Corona Open JBay as well as $10k (R127k) up for grabs there were some determined performances in the breezy conditions with no one giving any quarter.

WQS competitor and perennial Supertubes standout Dale Staples from St Francis Bay shone during the first semifinal. With the swell still rising, Dale found some deep barrels, including one ridiculous 10-point barrel ride at the Impossibles section to emerge with a near-perfect heat score of 19.93 out of a possible 20 points, throwing away a 9.7 as his third wave.

“It’s really good to get such great waves for a contest,” said Dale after his heat. “That ten-pointer was a nice set wave. It looked like it was going to run off away from me, but it actually held all the way to the end.”

Staples continued his form all the way through to the final, which turned into a barrel frenzy as Supertubes, one of the best waves in the world, delivered wave after perfect wave throughout the afternoon. Staples jumped into the lead early on in the final with one incredible double tube ride, followed by a second high scoring ride, and his lead was unassailable from then on.

Mikey February from Cape Town has been having an excellent season but couldnt find the good ones out there and finished in fourth place. Local surfer Matt McGillivray had been looking good all event and some had him touted for the win, but he couldnt match Staples incredible tube riding. Former event champion, a fit and determined Dylan Lightfoot from JBay, found some of the biggest waves of the final, but was unable to string together enough combination moves to get close to Staples, who won the final with a comfortable lead.

“After I got that early one I was feeling really good, and it’s always great to bank a good score in the beginning, ” said a jubilant Staples on the beach afterwards. “Then I got that second nine, and I was stoked and hoping that it would just go flat.”

Dale Staples wins JBU Supertrial

Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen came down to support the event and to hand the winner’s trophy to Dale Staples, as runner-up Dylan Lightfoot cheers on. © Van Gysen

The wind was howling offshore the whole day, and quite a challenge for all competitors, but it actually worked for the victorious Staples.

“The wind was actually beneficial for me in this event,” said Staples. “It was like the wind was just holding the main barrel section up the whole day. Some of the barrels looked like they were going to shut down on you and then they just opened up in the wind.”

First prize in the JBU Supertrial consists of a wild card into the Corona Open JBay, $10k (R127k) as well as the valuable Championship Tour competitive experience that comes with it.

Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen was in attendance at the event and was rapt with the action in the water. “I’m so proud of all the surfers in he competition, and proud of the fact that we were able to host such an amazing contest,” said Van Lingen. “There is nowhere else in the world where we can run such an event, and I can’t wait for this all to happen again when the JBay Winterfest comes to the town of Jeffreys Bay next month. I hope to see you all there.”

The Corona Open JBay has a waiting period from 12th – 23rd July, and is part of the JBay Winterfest.

Final Results:

  1. Dale Staples (St Francis Bay).
  2. Dylan Lightfoot. (JBay).
  3. Matt McGillivray (JBay).
  4. Mikey February (Kommetjie).

 

Hashtags #JBUsupertrial  #JBayWinterfest
The JBU Supertrial is co-sponsored by RVCA.
www.wavescape.co.za is the media partner.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jbaywinterfest

The JBU Supertrial is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa, the recognised governing body for the sport in South Africa.

About Surfing South Africa

SSA is a member of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the International Surfing Association (ISA).

The JBU Supertrial also is sanctioned by the World Surf League (WSL).

About the World Surf League

The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

For more information contact the event organiser

Koffie Jacobs – Koffie@silverbullet.co.za

Compiled and distributed by – Craig Jarvis – craig@thetruthcollective.co.za