19 July, 2023 19 July, 2023

Corona Open J-Bay 2023 – Finals Day

I wonder if Supertubes is going to pump tomorrow morning? What do you reckon? Let’s get some bets going? Maybe the Zag social media guy will take a couple stories of the waves in the morning. When the forecast predicts light onshore winds – often the wind only comes up after 12 and the waves pump in the morning. Should Trav Logie have run the final six heats on Thursday? Hmmmm. 


Even though the waves kinda sucked (by J-Bay Standards) – it was still a relatively sick day of surfing by World Tour standards. A classic J-Bay Winter’s day; Intermittent rain. (very) Intermittent sunshine. Occasional dolphins. Plenty of rainbows for TikTok Influencers and one or two solid set waves.

Yesterday’s surf was a goofy footer’s dream, today’s surf was geared towards the forehanders. It was tricky. Nuggety. Small and Fast. Here’s what we thought of the 2023 finals day at Supertubes.

The Losers:

Kanoa – Welcome to MUJI

Ever had the pleasure of entering a MUJI store? MUJI is a Japanese retail company which stands for Mujirushi Ryohin meaning “no-brand quality goods”. This reflects the store’s philosophy of simplicity, quality, and practicality. There aren’t many stores that offer the same aesthetic as MUJI. Everything is so clean. crisp. and minimalist. Their stores are like a work of art. The kinda place you could hang out in while drinking a flat white and sparkling water from a glass bottle, while perusing their range of eco-friendly, wooden tooth brushes. 

Kanoa’s surfing reminds us of MUJI. Nothing is overly branded. It’s simply good surfing done to the highest quality. Sometimes it’s so unbranded that the airs he does gets undervalued. 

Today, Kanoa was his own worst enemy. He and his probably came up with a five page strategic document to take out Filipe. He sat the whole heat waiting for the best wave, only to hand it over to Filipe who smashed that thing for an 8.50. Sometimes you just gotta let go of aesthetics and bang some lips.

Molly Picklum – Perfectly Curated

The other day I was listening to Joe Rogan interview ICE Cube. Their conversation meandered to the world of boxing with particular focus on Floyd Mayweather. ICE Cube mentioned that Floyed simply knows what punch can be thrown at what time and what punch can’t. If you know anything about boxing. Floyd’s the GOAT. He didn’t loose a professional fight. The man’s a master.

Knowing what punch to pull when is kinda like surfing. You approach a section and depending on the lip, what the wave is doing down the line, your speed, etc etc, there’s a limited number of turns to suit each section. You have to maximise the point potential from each turn while (continuously) considering what turn you’d like to perform down the line. 

Molly did this to superb effect this year in J-Bay. She consistently chose the best turn for the section. Supertubes’ length, speed and power makes it a complex wave to surf. And today it was particularly tricky. But Molly was able to identify and execute the correct turn for each section. It was this ability, that saw Molly take two surfing GOATS (Carissa & Stephanie) to the abattoir en route to her first Corona Open J-Bay Final.

Ethan Ewing – The Favourite Son

Remember Backstreet Boys, they had like five guys in the band, but there was that one guy, the blond dude with the floppy middle path hair, he was the one that always took centre stage. The chosen one. I once heard this guys say that “parents say that they don’t have a favourite child, but they always do.” – I don’t have multiple children and therefore am unable to offer a honest rebuttal but I will say this – Ethan Ewing is the WSL’s favourite son. 

There’s no doubt. 

They love his surfing. We love his surfing too. And for good reason. He’s so precise. So elegant. He’s like that boy band member who’s hair’s always in the right place for the shot. He looks good from every angle and when the media asks him questions, he responds with what everyone wants to hear. Truth? Lie? Who cares. 

Ethan Ewing and J-Bay is a match made in heaven. His surfing suits the long open faces of Jeffreys Bay like Nicholas Cage suits a bad movie. Or a Long Beach local suits a drop in. 

If we had to weigh it all out – this is who (we think)  should win by size:

1-4ft = Filip Toledo

4-6ft = Ethan Ewing

6ft plus = JJF

Ethan just missed a win by 2 feet.

Lakey Peterson – Pure. Unadulterated. Determination.

I have this friend. His surfing is fuelled by pure, unadulterated determination. A group of us once took a surf trip to Victoria Bay. The swell was pulsing and offered an opportunity to take off behind the rock. It’s a gnarly takeoff cause you’re basically taking off right in front of a rock. One slip up and who knows. You might just face plant that thing. After a couple of rides I ventured out to attempt to brave this dangerous takeoff and to my surprise, this friend adventured with me. I’m not the world’s greatest  surfer – but this guy, his skillset was particularly limited. But a determined bugger he was. A set wave came through and he  sent it. The wave bounced and gurgled and spat and he held on like a cowboy on a bucking bronco. Both hands on the rail. To my surprise and the surprise of every surfer in a 15 kilometre radius, he tamed the beast, road the thing to the shore. 

The point is, sometimes in life, a healthy dose of unhinged determination goes a long way. 

Lakey has my my mates unhinged determination. I’m by no means saying she’s unskilled, but she’s flippen determined. 

Lakey was one of the first women to arrive in J-Bay and one of the few to charge that rather large swell which hit the Saturday before the event started. She surfed most of the day. From early morning into the afternoon. The fruits of her labour seen today. 

It’s evident that Lakey really wants to make that final five cut and be in the mix at the Rip Curl WSL Finals come September. A win here moves her 2 places up (ahead of Tati & Gilmore) and one place outside the final five cut. Now all she has to do is learn how to ride a backhand barrel.

Filipe Toledo – The Action Man

My wife’s grandfather was a man of action. An action man was he! He was a quiet man. Few words spoken. Hanging in the background at family gatherings while enjoying a glass of expensive whiskey. Wishing away his days watching boring German news on television. You’d be fooled into thinking he was slightly boring. But let me tell you, you’d be the fool. When it came time to act, he’d act. Big time. With reckless disregard for much.

One day, while taking the kids to school he came across two prisoners who’d just escaped from Pollsmoor prison. They were in their prison garb, running for the lives, while police sirens wailed in the background chasing them down. He stopped next to the prisoners and offered them his assistance. Next minute, the prisoners were in the car, (sitting next to the school-going children) averting their authoritarian pursuers on route to a nearby train station. They hopped out, thanked him for the ride and off the children went to school. 

There are countless stories like this – but the common theme was – he’s chilled, until it came time to act. Then all hell broke loose.

 Filipe reminds me of my wife’s grandfather. He’s such a cruisy dude. Laughing and enjoying himself before heats. Even when he’s in a heat he rarely hustles for the inside. But once he stands up, oh jinne, he turns into an animal! Eye of the tiger. Laser focus. Nothing can distract him. He’s all in. 

Today Filipe proved himself as one of the GOAT’s of J-Bay. A three time winner next to Kelly Slater’ and Mick Fanning’s four. He posted an excellent ride in every one of his heats from round one until the final. In his final heat against Ethan Ewing he dropped a near perfect 9.93. For the life of me, I couldn’t conceptualise any way, a human being, could’ve surfed that wave better. It isn’t humanly possible.

Filipe Toledo is the lion in this year’s artwork. Standing there under the African sun. Mane glowing bright gold. Roaring like the king of the African Savannah. 

Last year Filipe looked good. This year he looks even better. Him, Ethan and Griffin have stolen the top spots from the previous year’s Gabriel/JJF domination. Dare we say there’s a minor changing of the guard? Let’s see what happens in Tahiti!

Written by – Cyle Myers

Images by – Kody McGregor

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