6 July, 2018 6 July, 2018

2018 Corona Open J-Bay Chairman’s Report

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.

Photographer: Greg Ewing

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. 

Jordy lays downs a man carve. Photographer: Greg Ewing

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. 

Mikey February. Photographer: Greg Ewing

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. 

Photographer: Greg Ewing

In closing, and sticking to theme, here are the newly revised 10 Commandments following the 2018 Corona Open J-Bay. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

Photographer: Greg Ewing

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

On one of Jordy’s waves, he did three or four floaters. We should call him ‘floater Jordy’.

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. 

Kelly Slater, back in action. Photographer: Greg Ewing

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. 


  1. Jon
    6 July, 2018 at 3:36 pm · Reply

    LOL, the ozzy Jesus. Classic!
    Toledo is just ridiculous… hole new level!
    The biggest surprise for me was Kanoa’s surfing. WOW he changed gears and leveled up big time.

    Shot for the repo bruuuuuu

  2. Andrew
    6 July, 2018 at 3:41 pm · Reply

    Great report Mr Chairman! We forget how young Toledo is, at 23 years old its just a matter of time until he starts committing in the bigger stuff. Once he has that down, I dont know who will stop him……..And yes, this WSL facebook thing SUUUUCKS!!!!

  3. Trevor
    6 July, 2018 at 4:42 pm · Reply

    Brilliant! The theme can go on and on. And maybe facebook could be in the 7 deadly sins, like this:
    1 The Facebook
    2 The Facebook
    3 The Facebook
    4 The Facebook
    5 The Facebook
    6 The Facebook
    7 Shaun Thompson commentating

    Honestly the 9th circle of hell was failing to watch this contest on facebook for 2 hours and then when it finally worked, in English, you got Martin Potter and Shaun Thompson commentating. I think they even started quoting each other.

  4. Ou Oom Roppie
    6 July, 2018 at 5:37 pm · Reply

    Very exciting and compelling reading. Nice.

  5. The Chairman
    6 July, 2018 at 7:54 pm · Reply

    A very good point on kanoa’s performance jon. He was lighting fast and threw caution to the offshore wind , as well as being perfectly accurate in the glass. I’m happy to admit I was wrong in saying he was predictable in the last chairman’s report. Andrew and Trevor , totally agreed on the fail regarding the dullness of the face book feed .

  6. Rockrabbit
    7 July, 2018 at 10:27 am · Reply

    Igarashi looks like one of those groomed/coached guys on tour… But credit to him for being smart and skilled enough to dispense with the double bottom turn and put together performances that suit the conditions

  7. mark
    7 July, 2018 at 2:41 pm · Reply

    OMG…. hey why not go with the Facebook slang when especially in this case it is extremely apt, and I’m not talking in the politically correct term of Oh My Gosh! The chairman nailed it with his religious theme… all hail the king…. for two years Running Holy Toledo has redefined surfing at Jbay and thank the gods for that! The other two that impressed me were Jesus Carmichael and disciple Igarashi…. smooth powerful and committed! Beautiful to watch! As opposed to jbay showing the flaws in most others approaches the wiggly double or even triple pump bottom turns make you look kooky out there…. stop it! Refine your approach to the long walls or go back to the WiggleQS…. of the screwfoots Connor O’Leary was the only one to look on point, with flashes of brilliance from gabby… please can chopes be solid!

    • The Chairman
      9 July, 2018 at 11:14 am · Reply

      Thanks Mark and it seems that every one agrees that Igarashi was the real surprise package at j bay. We also know he can ride the barrell as we’ve seen at pipe , so a shift further north in the rankings is likely atfter chopes. Appreciate the feedback .

  8. Craig
    8 July, 2018 at 11:50 am · Reply

    Excellent read once again. The facebook thing sucked big time. I have a few questions:
    Will the wsl fire the ceo or will she step aside and make way to competence?
    Will the wsl acknowledge the positive feedback regarding Barton Lynch’s commentary and give him a permanent position. Occy should also be seriously considered.
    Will the wsl get rid of some of the lame commentary that haunt us for days after watching the event? Won’t mention names but they are really bad.

  9. Crusty Old Dog
    9 July, 2018 at 2:47 am · Reply

    I find the anti Facebook chatter a little naive. The WSL has been running at a loss, for years. It’s still currently propped up by one man Dirk Ziff. The Facebook deal is worth 20Million US. Are there any kind hearted South Africans willing to donate a spare 270Million Rand to the WSL? Right didn’t think so. Fire the WSL CEO, Craig? Really, why for trying to keep the whole business afloat. Sack the one person, who has made the WSL any money? In case you hadn’t noticed the Surfing industry was not doing that well. I am not sure that most folk realise, how close to the wind, the whole operation is sailing. I love to hear Barton and Occy too. Do you know the real reason we don’t. The WSL can’t afford to pay the salaries. Maybe you hadn’t noticed it’s a leaner operation this year. Dirk is growing tired of losing money. Yes the transmission was crap. They had some technical difficulties. I do remember early web broadcasts were pretty shoddy too. It got better. For the record, I am not a fan of Facebook either, but understand the grim financial reality.

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  11. Craig
    9 July, 2018 at 9:34 am · Reply

    Hi Crusty. Your points are very valid. You speak like Dirk has a personal interest (growing tired of losing money) in the WSL. Perhaps he does, I am not sure, but I can tell you that his business interests are of greater interest and outweigh anything personal. I say fire the ceo as clearly the model is not working (the losses you refer to are proof of that). In the scope of things, US 20 million is a fraction of the amount that could be generated through effective marketing. The entire picture needs to change. The wsl is a great brand and the surfers should be rewarded better for their craft. With technology available (especially with a partner like facebook) surely the tests should have been done before hand. Had this been a major sporting arena like soccer, the ceo wouldn’t last a day. I don’t know what the commentators get paid but I would think that Barton and Occy would expect anything more. To attract increased viewership, perhaps the quality of the presentation should be looked at first (before moving to another platform). There are many people that are not into facebook. You are correct that the industry is not great at this stage but there are many non-related industry leaders with far greater budgets than the surf industry. I cannot comment on the financial status of the wsl as it is not public knowledge but I can say that it is something that has some positive equity. i hope they get things right but I for one won’t be watching it on facebook again. As for my call to fire the ceo, to be honest, I can’t see a reason why they would want to keep her.

    • The Chairman
      9 July, 2018 at 11:22 am · Reply

      To both Craig and crusty old surf dog , great to open up the conversation regarding the face book issue , positive dialogue and insights from both of you in a topic that has many layers. There no doubting that revenue streams have dried up signifcantly for pro surfing . The big brands don’t have the cash to throw at the machine . The audience demand viewing on a quality broadcast but don’t want to pay for it ? Where to next ? Ziff will want more bang for his buck but he can’t do it alone. Interesting times ahead . Would love to hear your thoughts . Thanks again for the feedback Craig and crusty old surf dog.

  12. Pine Nut
    9 July, 2018 at 11:31 am · Reply

    Great Repo Chairman. One thing I’d like to add is the decision making behind Slater’s timing. Not in reference to his turns on yet another undersized board on a firing Jbay wall, but to his retirement. He totally pissed all over Parko’s parade. Can he not handle someone else being in the limelight for 15 minutes? The guy has done everything and still remains entirely relevant when he’s healthy and riding the right equipment. He’s got nothing left to prove to anyone. He also had a proper moan about the conditions of his R2 heat against Jordy. If he’d made that one long barrel he would have been singing from a different hymn book (to go with your theme MDC!) But he’s losing respect by detracting from others and whining like a grumpy old man with a serious case of gout. I really hope he can pull out all the stops at Tahiti and give us and himself something to remember the class act he normally is.

    • The Chairman
      10 July, 2018 at 12:57 pm · Reply

      Some great observations Pine Nut. You’re not alone there. A lot of other people were also mentioning slater’s poor timing with that retirement announcement. The problem is choosing the right time to exit ? Mick timed it perfectly as did Taj. Parko’s announcement felt due .

  13. Sneeky Steve
    9 July, 2018 at 12:30 pm · Reply

    Super write up chairman Glen.

    Some things that stick out for on this years Jbay Open

    -Wade Carmichael vs Jordy Semi………watch it again ……judges got it cross eyed .

    -Waves in Jbay =sight for sore eyes -sick.
    -Igarashi -brought out his inner ninja…..Jake the Snake was a proud coach no doubt.
    -Single fin Landlord rocking up x2=Okes gotta watch out for each other if one puts you on it’s menu when safety crew have gone….seriously if somebody has their leg bitten off ……ask yourself are you willing to help them?

    -Missed the obligatory girl tour tropical spot….. bum flash……with them wearing wetsuits…..Tati especially.
    -Contest site was Super impressive……nearly OTT…..considering the event finished in 4 days…..the bill Mr Ziff must have pulled out to stage it-R 10 mill?Humansdorp girls were loving it.Yes revenue streams are kaput.

    • The Chairman
      10 July, 2018 at 1:03 pm · Reply

      Thanks Sneeky Steve,

      I’ve watched that Wade vs Jordy heat a couple of times and agreed on the under scoring of Jordy’s 2nd wave. For me , he was on his way to the score before the unfortunate timing of the air as well.

      Yeah the contest righ was really impressive. befitting of a Rolling Stones concert . must have cost a pretty penny. Maybe Mick Jagger vs Keith Richards for the legends heat next year ?

  14. CrackSon
    18 July, 2018 at 6:56 pm · Reply

    Great report Mnr Da Chair, shot!
    Agreed on the frustrations of the FB feed!
    I just hope ellos pueden hacerlo bien para tahití!
    hasta la vista mis amigos!
    grieta hijo.

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