19 July, 2019 19 July, 2019

The Chairman’s Report – Corona Open J-Bay

Gabriel Medina and Carissa Moore are the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay champions. Savage intent from Round 1 all the way to the finals, it was pedigree surfing from both of them. Champion stuff. World Champion stuff. You know the numbers, the stats and facts. I won’t bore you with all of that. Let’s rather look at the broader picture and what the live experience teaches us.

This was my first time watching the Corona Open J-Bay live. And it has changed everything. It will be difficult to go back to the screen after this. Back to its dull, flat one-dimensionality. The screen doesn’t blow gale force offshores back into your face, spill coffee or Corona over your jeans and it certainly doesn’t give you free surfs on the lay days, inches away from Gabriel Medina, Michel Bourez and Filipe Toledo. The screen may show you things but it also hides the important stuff. The game-changing performances you get to see with your own eyes, the ones you’ll never forget.

Long live live! Death to the screen.

Here are some things I learned standing on the sand and stands at the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay.

Like a bad night out we just want to forget about.

Jordy Smith started sharp and ended poorly.

On Tuesday, July 9, I saw Jordy on a warm-up wave. He may have just been warming up but that wave got toasted. There was a swagger to the rail work and the stance. Being 6’3″ helps I guess.

In the opening heat, he rolled his opponents with relative ease. Did the same to Aussie rookie Soli Bailey in the next round. Smith flared in the sunrise, he looked sharp and angry.

Then in the quarter-final against Owen Wright, Smith’s fire was extinguished. Snuffed out by a priority blunder and pinpoint accuracy and variety of attack from Owen Wright.

A solid set approached, Smith holding priority and the inside, Owen sitting 30 meters to the left of him. The wave reared up and Jordy didn’t pounce. Owen did and nailed the highest score of the heat and the win. On the grandstand. Silence.

Strider’s words stung but spoke an uneasy truth.

Absolutely mind-boggling. It’ll haunt him to his dying day.”

Resurrection awaits at ‘The End Of The Road’ and seeing Jordy’s revised approach in hollow lefts this year, expect a return to form.

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 10: Wildcard Beyrick De Vries of South Africa is eliminated from the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay with an equal 33rd finish after placing third in Heat 1 of Round 2 at Supertubes on July 10, 2019 in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/WSL via Getty Images)

The February chapter, the De Vries waiting game.

Michael February’s Corona Open J-Bay story was slammed shut by Toledo, but not without a fine read into a long tube as well as some high line floats and drop wallets, punctuated with his flowing style. He got close to Toledo at one point, but the problem is Toledo can turn a 3.5 wave into a 7.5 at any time.

Beyrick De Vries dropped anchor and sank. Not by a great depth, I might add, he lost by less than a point but waited over 20 minutes for that 1 point at the longest point break in the world. De Vries surfed with conviction and dropped some big hacks. But stay busy.

Gabriel did and turned it around against Callinan. In 3 minutes he went from needing a near-perfect score to win. 3 minutes not 20.

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 19: Kolohe Andino of the United States advances to the semi finals of the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay after winning Quarter Final Heat 2 at Supertubes on July 19, 2019 in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. (Photo by Ed Sloane/WSL via Getty Images)

Kolohe clicks with J-Bay.

Saturday 13 July, around 10 am coffee in hand, watching Andino lock horns with Adriano de Souza. After a long walled up one, Andino docks into the channel for a beach run.

Dad Dino, standing 6 feet away barks, “Get a real wave!”

6 days later In the quarter-finals against Adrian Buchan, he did just that. Banked two of them actually. Of those two waves, the fade carve into a throaty barrel was pure J-Bay mastery. Difficult to do at the best of times, much, much harder in the howling offshore, buckling your rails and throwing your weight distribution all over the shop.

Backhanders are in the business of closing.

Backhanders finish stronger and more acutely than their chest to the wave counterparts when it comes to murdering the closeout section. When the screw foots hit it they are inverted, a ball of power and energy huddled over their decks with perfect weight distribution. Of them, Medina and Italo are leagues ahead. Seeing Medina in the flesh, he’s got upper leg strength that would make an Olympic weight lifter question his career choice. Italo has the backhand tail blast that removes all 3 fins from the water.

Other backhanders who really impressed included Owen Wright, Ryan Callinan, and Deivid Silva. The latter in his rookie year quickly proving he belongs in the big leagues.

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 17: 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater of the United States is eliminated from the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay with an equal 9th finish after placing second in Heat 8 of Round 4 at Supertubes on July 17, 2019 in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. (Photo by Ed Sloane/WSL via Getty Images)

Slater, is he vanishing with every event?

Wrong board, a wetsuit that made him cold and turns that looked shaky. That was my interpretation of Kelly’s loss to Italo Ferreira in the round of 16. I’ll never question the achievements but the timing to exit stage surely needs to be?

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 19: Three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore of Hawaii advances to the final of the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay after winning Semi Final Heat 1 at Supertubes on July 19, 2019 in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/WSL via Getty Images)

The female form. Placement with purpose.

Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore. If it sounds like a duet that’ll go top of the pops on Youtube, wait till you see them live. I’ve never seen such a performance by female surfers, it was extraordinary. Grace, flow, risk. That’s Carissa. Powerful, direct, no nerves. That’s Caroline.

For me, the quarter-final effort by Carissa Moore, as well as the semi-final between herself and Caroline Marks were stand out heats. Watching Stephanie Gilmore you realise there’s daylight between her and the pack when it comes to style and glide. And I include the men in this conversation.

Stephanie Gilmore needs to buy a plot in J-Bay so she can see out her days surfing down the point toward a dipping sun. If Derek Hynd and Supers are the gold standards of the high line glide, Steph is that with some Brasso rubbed on.

Lakey Peterson. The strength and rail work was outstanding. Real hammer blows off the back foot. She was only shown up by Moore in pure power.

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 17: Defending event winner Seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia is eliminated from the 2019 Corona Open J-Bay with an equal 5th finish after placing second in Quarter Final Heat 1 at Supertubes on July 10, 2019 in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/WSL via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, from a South African perspective, Bianca Buitendag didn’t have the greatest event but it’s great to see her back in action and hopefully back on tour full time again.

I’ll leave you with this before an unfortunate return to the screen for the next Chairman’s report.

Screens flatten a performance. Everyone appears to be going the same speed and, viewed without the depth of field to give texture and layering to what is going on in the water, you miss out on the broader picture. Like positioning in the line up (Jordy Smith ) speed (Toledo), power (Cardoso, Medina, Wright) and flow (Toledo, Italo, Smith)

Live also gives you warts and all truth. The stuff you need to see with your own eyes to realise just how seemingly impossible the performances are when viewed in the flesh.

The biggest difference for me was the gap between the top 5, the new emerging top 5 (Deivid Silva, Seth Moniz, Peterson Crisanto, Griffin Colapinto, Michael Rodrigues) and the also-rans.

Will Jordy Smith fight himself back into yellow jersey contention with some thick barrels at the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o? Will anybody be able to reign in the Brazilians? What are the chances of me swimming over with my couch strapped to my leash to watch it live? I figure if I leave at 4 am tomorrow, I’ve got a chance…

I look forward to your company as always.

The Chairman.


  1. Craig
    19 July, 2019 at 6:03 pm · Reply

    The goofy foots blazed a path reminiscent to that of Occy back in 84. That Jordy mistake may well have cost him the title. WTF. With Chopes next, is there anyone that can stop the raging bull (Medina). Thanx wsl for not showing the very irritating Charlie. Makes a huge difference. Andino along with the kamikaze have seriously improved. I really dig Jordy (so much that I believe he is the best in the world) but I have resigned to the fact that he won’t ever be a world champ. There is simply something missing. It may be the coach, the management or something else. It is certainly not the talent. Please Jordy prove me wrong and make me swallow my words. Best I have ever seen MFeb surf but alas, just not on the same level. Dig the dude and makes a huge difference to the world of surfing. Good on you MFeb. Where is our new talent gonna come from. We have the likes or Jordy and Adin. I hope they push through and become contenders on the tour. Not a fan of Medin but cannot dispute that he is bloody good, especially under pressure. Perhaps a 3rd world championship? To early to tell but it will be hard to stop him. Carissa should actually compete against the guys. My prediction is she would be a consistent top ten competitor.

  2. Alex
    19 July, 2019 at 6:34 pm · Reply

    Most exciting event of the world tour thusfar by a long chalk. Hats off to the organisers for pushing it to the far end of the waiting period to deliver a pulsating final in vintage J-Bay conditions. Medina is an absolute machine. Like he did in Hawaii to clinch the title, he roared out of Comboland with two high 9’s to seal the deal. Unfrickingbelievable. If the zombie apocalypse arrives from the sea, send him out there and he’ll shred ’em all to pieces. And if it arrives from the air, send out Kolohe. How that hands-free aerial on a rumbling mountain of a wave in gale-force conditions only netted a 7.5 ranks right up there in the annals of judgerly miserliness. And what a refreshing difference to have the chairman’s report delivered minutes after the final hooter from the event itself. You can almost feel the wind ringing in his ears and the salt encrusting his mile-wide grin. Let’s start a petition to change it to The Sandman’s Report and send the dude to watch every event live. C’mon Zigzag, just lock down some Under Armour adspend and it’s Business Class all the way!

  3. Jon
    19 July, 2019 at 7:46 pm · Reply

    Great event!
    I really thought we were going to see a Toledo vs Kanoa Final, but Medina’s timing, strength and focus is just incredible.
    Those close out turns in the final would have broken most human legs. He must be experimenting with cyborg surgery and integration. Machina!
    EPIC to watch these guys live. Its a real eye opener.
    Nice one Chairman!

  4. Gina
    19 July, 2019 at 10:38 pm · Reply

    Fantastic report as usual- being a JBay local I’ve seen it live for years and this report truly captures the magic 🔥

  5. Stu
    20 July, 2019 at 12:16 am · Reply

    Epic insights Glenolds, as always. Nothing compares to being there and like you said, these guys are next level. Even on the screen I was blown away by the performance levels!

    Well done mate.

  6. Andrzej
    20 July, 2019 at 8:06 am · Reply

    The last Goofy to win at J-Bay was also a squared jawed Poster boy for his country with tree trunk legs. That was 35 years ago.
    He led his country into a world wide domination of pro surfing that lasted close to 50years. That cycle is over. Three Brazilians into the Semis, and Brazil is easily the top surf country. Like Nick Carroll says, the Brazilians are dominating in the free surfs before contests too. (Like the Aussies used to) Aussies have gone thru the three stages, of anger, denial and finally acceptance.
    Medina is actually getting better all the time. When he goes into beast mode, no one comes close. A relentless force of nature.
    Unlike Craig, I love Charlie. Stone faced all contest, and dives into the icy Winter Indian ocean, with his clothes on.

  7. Alex
    20 July, 2019 at 10:56 am · Reply

    Love it Andrjez! ‘The last goofy to win J-Bay was a square-jawed poster boy for his country with tree trunk legs.’ Describes both Occy and Machina to a T. Could the sequel to The Boys From Brazil involve Occy DNA smuggled into the country to breed a new generation of supermen?

  8. Hawkman
    20 July, 2019 at 8:17 pm · Reply

    100% truth on everything said here! Epic report. J-Bay is a must see live event.

  9. Wade
    20 July, 2019 at 9:29 pm · Reply

    Well captured Glen, must have been amazing to watch…..
    I didn’t think Toledo was stoppable…..Medina was a freak….epic surfing and equally epic writing Glen.

  10. Jack
    22 July, 2019 at 4:38 pm · Reply

    I hope that couch of your is an inflatable lilo bru (with knapsie holder).
    You’ve sold me! Watching this event live is officially on my bucket list.
    Lakka Mr Chairman and thanks for a great report as always.

  11. Mark
    25 July, 2019 at 11:04 am · Reply

    Like an early morning JBay sunrise… Pure gold! Great summation of the whole event.
    A few thinks to take out from JBay and I reckon a few new names on the tour – Gabriel Machina, Flip Toledo Goes Fast!, I Tell Ya I fear No One, Goal One Yellow Jersey Is Mine, Chilly Skater, Jaw Dropped Smithers and I Know I can Do It In a Rashie…

  12. Name (required)Rob W
    28 July, 2019 at 12:26 pm · Reply

    Excellent read, even for a non surfer like me. The words paint a picture and allow one to see the action as though having been there. Brilliantly written Glen!

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