2018 Corona Open J-Bay Preview
J-Bay is a wave steeped in surfing folklore. With the shark factor, potential for crazy barrels and the death defying bricks section at the end, you have one exciting event. It’s the purist surfer’s dream, needing an on-point carve game combined with speed and tube-riding prowess to make the podium. Even Filipe Toledo, known for his wild airs, relied on full-tilt hacks to come home with the win last year.
When picking contenders, you want them to have power, flow and the ability to pull something crazy out of the bag if they’re against the ropes. Here’s a preview of how the Billabong team are likely to fare coming into the next World Tour stop for 2018...
Italo is blasting backhand laser whips like some kind of sci fi superhero right now. And, there’s no better place for searing backhand hits than J-Bay. Think Occy, Luke Egan and, in recent years, the Hobgood brothers. However, you have to bear in mind that a goofy is yet to win J-Bay since it became a full World Tour event in 1996. Plus, Italo has never made it past round 3 here. Still, Italo hadn’t cracked an event win at any stop up until this year either. Now he has two in his utility belt, including one at Bells/Winki, which is reasonably similar to J-Bay in terms of skillset needed to win. You can guarantee he’ll be going all out to get his roll running for a World Title campaign in the tail half of the year.
J-Bay holds a special place in Parko’s heart. He clinched his first ever World Tour event win here back as a wildcard in 1999, won again in 2009 and finished 2nd in 2014. If it’s big, Parko will be a force to be reckoned with. He loves nothing more than slicing his JS blades into the long walls of J-Bay, like some kind of stylish butcher with a case of bloodlust. If it’s smaller, the rest of the pack will find it easier to match Joel, but even then he’ll be no easy beat. Keep your eye on the forecast, pray for surf and tune into the Parko show when the lines start filtering into the bay.
Freddy is the classic all-day wetty wearer. His first onesie as a baby was made from neoprene, including booties and bonnet to boot. Now as a man, he loves nothing more than pulling on the rubber suit and heading out into some winter juice. Case in point, Fred finished 2nd here last year - his highest placing at a World Tour event to date. Cold water tubes and hacks are his forte, his bread and butter, his raisons d'être. He’s drawn the two hometown heroes - Jordy Smith and Michael February - in his rnd 1 heat though, so watch out for a foot-to-the floor performance to earn his fast track to rnd 3.
Griffin’s forehand attack is deadlier than razzed up Black Mamba just now (or is it now now, bru?). Everyone, including the judges, are queing up to see what fury he’s going to unleash on J-Bay’s walls once the event kicks off July 2nd. If anything is going to hold Griff back, it’s that often he goes so hard his recovery takes an extra split second to reset before he launches up into the lip again. J-Bay is one of the least forgiving places in the world when it comes to getting caught behind, so he’ll need to keep the speed up and the fin blasts spritely. But, throw his tube game into the mix and Griffin will likely be posting massive heat scores every time he hits the water.
Photos via World Surf League (@WSL)