18 July, 2023 18 July, 2023

Day 3 at the Corona Open J-Bay

Apparently, there were some seriously salty vibes in the locker room after yesterday’s provincial trial held at Supertubes – we were told by an inside source. But today is a new day. The waves have graduated from provincial trial-like quality to world tour grade material. 
We arrived at the beach to be greeted by classic Supertubes. The kinda Supers you dream of – not too big, not too windy. Solid 6ft cylinders rolling from Boneyards through Impossibles. Yesterday’s small wave mishap inspired the organisers to get things underway well before 8am. Sucks if you don’t dig dawn patrols, although a welcome tradeoff compared to yesterday’s small wave fiasco. 
This was the day the WSL needed.
There’s a mood of Supertubes that favours the goofy footers. The wave bends towards you all the way down the point. Barrel sections are limited. The lip, nice and feathery. Begging you to bang it. And the goofy footers came to the party. First in the form of Caroline Marks.
I watch this Youtube channel called Economics Explained. It’s a great channel where they break down the economies of different countries around the globe. Fun fact – Somalia was the only country not to add to the global economy. Instead, thanks to their affinity for pirating, it cost the global economy. Point is, Economics Explained breaks down what an economy needs to function well. In theory this is straightforward. In practice however, getting everyone to be truthful is a little more complex. Caroline Marks for example, displayed what style of surfing Supers needs for your heat to function well – fundamentals done excellently. Elongated bottom turns. High-lines. Un-rushed. If you wanna learn how to surf Supers well on your backhand, queue up opening round heat four starring Caroline Marks. 
While Matty McG and Bazza Mamiya struggled to get a ride worth celebrating, #OurPalRCal (Ryan Callinan) went berserk. Dropping hammers down the line. On edge. Every turn. It was like watching a horror movie that keeps you in suspense. His paddle back to the take-off zone gave you the chance to recover from PTSD. R-Cal went on to drop an 8.50 in the non-priority heat on an insider, backed up by a 7.10 to seal the deal.
While the South African’s where still recovering from the loss of local hero, Matty McG, Jordy Smith hit the lineup. Watching Smith is a nerve wrecking affair. His transcendency as a surf hero has led us to place all our South African surfing hopes and dreams firmly on his shoulders. Every heat lose is painful. Just ask Shaun Thompson. He’s been claiming JS for a world title for years. Shame. 
Today Jordy Smith put on a how-to-surf-supers clinic in the elimination round. Where many of the left-foot forward surfers struggled, Jordy excelled. As a musician you need to sit in the drummers groove. The drummer gives you the beat and the musicians play to his groove. That was Jordy today. The waves set the beat and Jordy sat in the groove. He surfed to the pace of the wave. Never rushing. Picking the ideal manoeuvre for the section and throwing in the perfect amount of dirty layback hacks.
As the day wound on, so the surf continued to cook. Fire, even. Are these the best waves the WSL’s been blessed with all year? Not a cloud in the sky. Waves stacked to the horizon. Coronas flowing. Let’s go.
We took a walk down the board walk as the women’s elimination heats rolled round – only to be interrupted by every person you know in the surf world. It’s like a massive family gathering. Like Christmas. Where the Christmas tree is Supertubes and the roast lamb is streams of corduroy lines flowing in from Indian Ocean. Love Christmas. But this celebratory atmosphere doesn’t provide a productive work space. Back to the media room.
Lakey Peterson was one of the first women to arrive in J-Bay before the event. And she was charging last week Saturday before the comp began – her pony tail wildly swinging around the circumference of her head from takeoff to Impossibles. All day long. Today she found herself in the elimination round courtesy of a rather lacklustre opening round. And that pony tail came out the gates swinging. Even though her scores weren’t anything to really write home about. Her surfing looked solid. Like she understood Supers. On one particular wave she went for a massive closeout hammer over the salads section. That kind of comfort only comes from spending time at a place. If this swell hangs around, we reckon she might find herself deep within the draw – pony tail gone rogue.
As we mourned the loss of Jordy Smith, our spirits were lifted by the electrifying performance of John John Florence. The Saturday before the event started the waves fired. All day. It was classic Supertubes. I sat at Salads. From Salads you can see it all. Especially how they navigate the Impossibles barrel section. JJF’s surfing was head and shoulders above his peers. His rail lines were otherworldly. 
Big. Long. Powerful. Rail carves from lip-line to trough.
And his tube prowess was outstanding. Managing his speed and positioning in the almond-shaped, rib-filled barrels of Supertubes with particular ease. Today, with the bigger surf and more open-face to play with, JJF again showed us glimpses of what we witnessed last Saturday. Rail work that was electrifying. And tube riding that was a level above his peers. Everyone thought JJF had this heat sewn up from the moment he dropped a 9.23 for his opening ride. But Conner. Conner’s a dog with a bone. Refusing to give up. He kept within striking range of JJF the whole heat and on his final wave posted an 8.77 to steal the win from under John John’s nose. 
As the sun set on a epic day of surf – dare we say the best the WSL has seen this year, we hope and pray tomorrow will greet us with similar conditions tomorrow.
Much love.

Written by – Cyle Myers

Images by – Kody McGregor

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