27 May, 2019 27 May, 2019

Corona Bali Protected Chairman’s Report

Historical. Of course there are many other words you could use to sum up Kanoa Igarashi’s victory at the 2019 Corona Bali Protected event, and even through historical may seem obvious, its a day professional surfing needs to remember, for all the right reasons.

Japanese surfing has always been formidable, albeit in niched pockets of influence. On the North Shore, many Japanese chargers are held in high regard, pushing hard at macking Sunset and Pipe. Over the years, their rising stock of QS warriors have been getting closer and closer to qualifying for the big leagues, and if you’ve ever surfed a cracking 6ft plus swell at J-Bay, you’ll notice some pedigree performances from many a style master from the Land Of The Rising Sun.

BALI, INDONESIA – MAY 25: Jeremy Flores of France finishes runner-up in the 2019 Corona Bali Protected after placing second in the final at Keramas on May 25, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Kelly Cestari/WSL via Getty Images)

But in beating Jeremy Flores to win his maiden WCT event title, Japanese surfing truly arrived on the big stage. I’m thrilled that Igarashi’s victory has added another region’s influence to a sport that has desperately needed a shake up from the all too familiar names that you expect to see in finals. First tour victory for a Japanese surfer in the history of the sport. Japan hosting the 2020 Olympics. Igarashi proudly surfing with a red dot on a white background next to his name. In a word: Historical.

Not taking anything away from Jeremy Flores, who put on one of the strongest performances of his career, but the real victory for Konoa must have been his semi final victory over Slater. It was a statement of intent second to none. To usurp the GOAT on top his game speaks volumes of where your career trajectory is headed.

BALI, INDONESIA – MAY 25: Seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia wins the 2019 Corona Bali Protected and claims the yellow Jeep Leader jersey after winning the final at Keramas on May 25, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Damea Dorsey/WSL via Getty Images)

Gilmore wins with a perfect 10, stays on top of the world

Stephanie Gilmore’s win over fellow Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons at the 2019 Corona Bali Protected cemented her reputation as the most dominant Female surfer of the modern era. Her 10 in the final would have comboed a lot of the men. I’m looking forward to seeing the full power of Women’s surfing on display at Margaret River.

Let’s have a look at some points that need consideration following a week of white hot surfing from the black sandy beaches of Keramas, Bali.

BALI, INDONESIA – MAY 20: Peterson Crisanto of Brazil is eliminated from the 2019 Corona Bali Protected with an equal 17th finish after placing second in Heat 15 of Round 3 at Keramas on May 20, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Damea Dorsey/WSL via Getty Images)

The undervalued Air. The over scored Barrel.

Unless I’m missing something, the scores thrown back for tweaked out, high risk airs were undercooked and the numbers returned for some pretty average barrels were way to high. This was a constant theme for the entire event that went against the very thing the panel said they would be rewarding. If you say you’re looking for high risk opening manoeuvres, then back that with scores that recognise risk.

This 8.6  (scrub through to 6min 30sec) by Toledo in the round of 16 needs to be played to the judges all year long. A reminder of the criteria they agreed to. There’s no excuse to alter the very thing you said would be held in high regard.

The most unfortunate recipient of the ‘underscore’ was Kolohe Andino. Big, flexing airs that were unpredictable, reckless and 200% high risk. Go and check his performance on the heat analyser. Brother was robbed a few times. 


BALI, INDONESIA – MAY 20: Jordy Smith of South Africa is eliminated from the 2019 Corona Bali Protected with an equal 17th finish after placing second in Heat 16 of Round 3 at Keramas on May 20, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Damea Dorsey/WSL via Getty Images)

Smith Carve Vs Mendes Barrel. Insert judging face plant here.

I’m not alone here. Luke Egan, after Jesse Mende’s barrel that gave him the score to roll the big South African said, “I’m sorry I didn’t see the score going there …”

Yes it was a clean barrel, but framed next to his blistering backhand hook that earned him a similar score , Jesse Mendes got gifted a number that was too high.

Jordy Smith’s big, blunt full power carve for his 4.87 looked as if it were a 6 and up.


Still, a lot of seeds tumbled early and the damage to his year may not be as severe had the top 5 broken away. Jordy can go to Margaret’s with his performance looking sharp and his size will be a big plus at a venue that pushes back with a lot of water.

BALI, INDONESIA – MAY 24: 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater of the United States advances to the semi finals of the 2019 Corona Bali Protected after winning Quarter Final Heat 3 at Keramas on May 25, 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images)

Slater’s back.

It’s always dangerous competing against somebody with experience. They know how to sequence things to get a victory within the time frame that decides a result. New Zealand do it on the rugby field. Slater in the brine.

His performance in Bali spoke more of his ability to lean on that experience than just his pure natural athleticism as a surfer.

From a below average start on the Gold Coast , he’s exactly where he want to be. And exactly where his rivals wish he wasn’t: Approaching in the rearview mirror, accelerating quickly, indicator on, looking to overtake…

Will we see spitting barrels at North Point,maybe even some dome busters at The Box? Will Florence rebound , what about Medina , Italo and Smith?

Hopefully the sharks will stay far away… I’ll see you there, as always, watching from the channel on my couch.

Looking forward to your company as always.

The Chairman.


  1. Rob Wellman
    27 May, 2019 at 1:33 pm · Reply

    As always, written with flair, and very appealing due to the style, pace and avid descriptions. A pleasurable and stimulating read. Kudos Glen.

  2. Mike Fletcher
    27 May, 2019 at 1:51 pm · Reply

    Love the Slater reference. Or is it a premonition…..?

  3. Bushy
    27 May, 2019 at 4:16 pm · Reply

    Great report as always Chair.

    Shew, Jordy and Kolohe Andino seem to get shafted by the judges on a regular basis that’s for sure.

    This comp seemed to go on forever and I guess they got the call right in the end and finished in the best waves, but some of those days were painful to watch. 10 minute lulls and then a 6 to 8 wave set, where surfers watching on the web around the world and on the beach are left salivating over the 5 or 6 unridden Kerama’s gems! Painful! They should have had overlapping heats surely, if only for our sanity.

  4. Alex
    27 May, 2019 at 6:36 pm · Reply

    It really is a head-scratcher how so many highly experienced officials at the highest levels of so many professional sports seem so incapable of applying the rules they themselves have written. Of course some margin of error is to be expected yet it seems a universal constant that crucial, critical results with heavy consequences in terms of careers, credibility, cash and just a general sense of balance in the scales of cosmic justice are judged not just slightly, but egregiously, wrong and leave in their wake frustration, destruction and despair. Whether it’s surfing, soccer, boxing, rugby, fencing, baseball, tiddlywinks and just about every competitive sport, even when said officials admit they got it wrong we’re all just supposed to suck it up. Why is it so hard? Is it time for the AI judge-bots to step in, input the WSL judging criteria and objectively output the 10 Toledo deserved for that berserk air? Having said that, Jordy was his own worst enemy in that heat against Mendes – had his wave selection game in the 2nd half been as strong as it was in the 1st Our Lad would’ve lived to surf another heat. And of course hats off to Igarashi who is every bit at home in the water as his mythical compatriot Godzilla. Could Japan be the new Brazil???

  5. Mark
    28 May, 2019 at 7:01 am · Reply

    Great read once again meneer da chair, Just as Slater says he was going to do.. You smashed it! This contest had it all: Daylight Robbery, Midnight surfing, Airs, Barrels, Barrels to Airs, Lulls in the surf and certainly in the consistency of the judging panel, however at the end of of it I think two deserving winners in Igarashi and Steph (did you see that 10 in her final!!!!) On form and on song is the variety of conditions that the Keramas lineup threw at them… Though a whole different ocean awaits them at the Western Edge of Oz this coming week… There’s talk of the box which should scare a few competitors more than the creatures lurking below the surface… Bring it on!

  6. Jonesy
    30 May, 2019 at 1:20 pm · Reply

    Yeah Jordy is looking good……fitness wise and motivation.

    Igarashi is more of a rounded surfer than most people realised…..guy is killing it.

    Wave Ninja.

    Old man of the sea Slater and his small boards vs conditions. I do agree some length in the bigger stuff will scale up his moves.
    Try tell an 11xChamp that.

    Got my days leave booked for the Jbay event.

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