Brazilian God beats Ozzie Jesus at J-Bay. Rest of tour prays for a miracle on how to stop him.
Holy Toledo… Let’s stick with the religious theme, shall we?
After all, Shaun Tomson and the rest of the WSL commentary team made good use of that narrative. I’m not a religious man, but that jaw-dropping 2018 Corona Open J-Bay performance by Filipe Toledo deserves some high praise. By defeating Aussie rookie sensation Wade Carmichael in the final, Toledo becomes only the third person to successfully defend a J-Bay title, joining Jordy Smith and Jake Patterson for the honours.
Filipe Toledo’s surfing at the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay took on biblical proportions. It demanded worship. And if you’re still unconvinced that he’s not the most gifted and complete surfer in the world, well, you could always return to the old scriptures that say he hasn’t proven himself in waves of consequence yet. Yes, there are still the naysayers that will dig in their heels and preach that he hasn’t yet been tested in the God-fearing stuff. Let’s see where he sits in the ratings after the Tahiti Pro Teahupoo and then pass judgment.
As Toledo said after his victory at J-Bay, “I feel like it’s my turn now. Everything is clicking and feeling good.” There is serious gravity and purpose to the 2018 version of Filipe Toledo. He wants it. And hell, he’ll do anything to win the world title this year, including pushing himself over the ledge at maxing Chopes.
His talent is undeniable and unmatched, but more importantly, the desire that drives his destiny has never been sharper and unremitting. Filipe knows he can’t leave Tahiti without a result, not with defending Tahiti Pro Teahupoo champ Julian Wilson and Gabriel Medina breathing down his neck. A solid finish in Tahiti could give Toledo the points buffer to free him up to really let rip at The Wave Ranch, and if that happens, it’s going to take a miracle to reel him in.
From a Saffa perspective, the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay keeps Jordy Smith in the world title frame, and much like Toledo, he’ll know that everything is on the line going into Tahiti.
There may even be a benefit to this: focus will be on the obvious picks to flourish. Everyone will expect big things from Julian Wilson, Gabriel Medina, even Italo Ferreira. This affords Jordy the opportunity to redefine his attack at a wave that has not been kind to him in the past when it comes to changing the trajectory of his year.
Every surfer has a location that pushes back at them, asks the heavy questions. Jordy may just have the answer if he goes over early enough and sharpens up his approach. His performance at J-Bay was sound, and in patches, very solid. The rail work, deep-set, driving bottom turns and pace of reading the J-Bay walls was flawless when in full flow. Questions remain of the option paralysis of having too many boards to choose from when he looked a little off on the blade he rode against Wilson, but that was soon rectified. When Smith finds the sweet spot, he remains a dangerous, ominous threat. The big guy’s 3rd place finish at the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay keeps him in the hunt.
Unfortunately, Michael February had a forgettable event. The pressure at a favourable location which demands you to deliver can do two things: propel you forward to greatness or stifle and restrict you to surf within inside yourself. For February, it was the latter. The timing was off and the manoeuvre choices questionable. We all know M-Feb is better than this, he just needs to let his natural lines present themselves, the flow will follow and the nerves will settle.
As for us talking of natural talent, Matt Mc Gillivray showed off his pure class under the pressure cooker heat of the WSL big league. Twice the big guns pushed Matt, and twice he pushed back. Hard and with an intent that proves he’s up for the challenge. Take a bow.
In closing, and sticking to theme, here are the newly revised 10 Commandments following the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay.
- Thou shall feel the fury of a Facebook broadcast.
The unrepentant rage was as furious as the cascading, fiery emoticons that lit up screens worldwide for all the wrong reasons. It’s safe to say that the WSL’s decision to broadcast the event on a platform that is seen by its audience as dated and divisive had a fallout way worse than expected. The scorn and contempt for the stuttering live feed, ridiculous and painstaking stream of emoticons, and more importantly, departure from a stable platform that once housed the benefit of a heat analyser, is all but lost. It’s going to take a couple of Hail Mary’s for the WSL to fix this one.
- Thou shall kneel at the feet of Toledo for he is now King.
No other way to say it really. The old guard, and dare I say it, a handful of the new crop simply can’t keep up with the red line pace set by surfing’s new gold standard. I’ve never seen surfing like that. The world has never seen such a display of creativity, forged by unmatched speed, power, and unpredictability. Kelly was King, Toledo is now.
3. Thou shall respect Ozzie Jesus or feel the wrath of his rail.
Old Testament power. The bearded man who once worked as a tradie is now hammering his opponents with the blunt force trauma of massive forehand carves and wraps. Wade Carmichael is not only a blue collared, humble and likable bloke. He’s also ranked 6th in the world. Not since Matt Hoy has an Ozzie looked as powerful on the rail. Expect more and more to start following Ozzie Jesus. And that includes the surfers below him on the rankings.
4. Thou shall not over score the floater.
It was as if we were back in the 80’s. Big scores for floaters, I thought the panel was looking to reward high-risk surfing? The number of decent scores lavished on the floater bordered on ridiculous. These comments from the feed summed it up:
Floater!! That’s a heat win.
Half a float deserves a 7
5. Though shall not refer to grown men as kids.
Please Potts, it really is patronising, insulting and annoying.
6. Thou shall expect a comeback from Wilson, Medina, and Smith.
And quite possibly Italo Ferreira as well. Come to think of it, Carmichael and Cardoso could also be a handful at Chopes.
7. Thou shall obey the shark and get out of the way using jet ski assist.
Seems the local sharks at J-Bay also wanted their share of the limelight. Maybe they were angry Facebook emoticons? But just to be safe, the jet ski’s and water patrol did a great job from protecting the surfers from harm. Well done.
8. Thou shall expect more retirees.
First Joel Parkinson , then Kelly Slater. Who’s next, Ace Buchan perhaps? It’s a tough game on tour now. The older guys are feeling the heat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more calling it quits.
9. Thou shall see another judging criteria shake-up.
Surely the panel can’t be as erratic as they were at J-Bay? Hopefully, they set the scale correctly at Chopes and give honest high scores for high-risk surfing. Unless they confuse deep tubes with floaters…
10. Thou shall see Slater redemption.
No better place for a reset than Tahiti. Very few are better out there and Kelly will want to get some of that focus back at a venue that has rewarded him. Expect him to fire up.
Will Toledo widen the gap even further, will Jordy Smith come out with fire and brimstone to silence his backhand tube critics, what about a floater into barrel combo by Slater? Anything is possible, and just like we saw at the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay, it could be biblical in its outcome. Particularly if it’s in the God-fearing 10 to 12ft range.
I’ll be watching as always, from the comfort of the channel… on my couch.