Championship tour event number six, the Corona Open J-Bay in South Africa, gets underway this week with action kicking off on July 9th- 22nd. Jeffrey's Bay ( J-Bay) is now into its 21st year on tour and is still by far one of the best locations for the WSL contest.
Filipe Toledo won his first event this season, when he took out the Oi Rio Pro in Rio last month. Toledo is now closing the gap on the standings, now ranked third behind Kolohe Andino. Toledo is also looking for his third consecutive J-Bay win after taking out Fredrick Morais and Wade Carmichael in 2017-18. Toledo is now in the hot seat to take out his first World Title after John John Florence injured himself and is set to miss the remainder of this season.
Only one disappointing result from the Oi Rio Pro was John John Florence injuring his ACL. Florence was clearly on the verge of taking out another world title after winning two of the first five events this season. With Florence out, this now opens the door for the rest of the field, especially second placed Kolohe Andino and now third place Filipe Toledo.
Hometown hero Jordy Smith has had a solid start to this season and is no stranger Jeffrey's Bay. Smith came runners up at the event in Rio and has now slotted into fourth place in the current standings. Smith took care of business at J-Bay back in 2010-11 after he won consecutive years, since then he has had a hand full of final appearances. Smith has reached the finals four out of five times this season, it's only a matter of time before he takes out his first event in the 2019 season.
Kelly Slater is once again traveling to J-Bay to give it another crack. Slater won the first ever WSL event here back in 1996, since then he has two other victories here. Only one man has more victories here than Slater and that's Mick Fanning. Slater has a relatively hard round one when he meets Sebastian Zietz and Jeremy Flores in his first heat. The veteran has climbed into seventh on the leaderboard and is more than a chance to take out number four at J-Bay.
Two surfers who have been lacking consistency of late is Gabriel Medina and Julian Wilson. Both have been crawling their way back in the rankings but need some big outcomes to work towards another title. Both surfers were knocked out in the quarterfinals in Rio but with that result they both climbed four positions and are now inside the top ten. Wilson has been solid in the last two events and I feel he has a lot of confidence coming into J-Bay. Medina on the other hand is capable of anything, Medina is easily one of the best barrel riders on tour and is not afraid to hit the air either.
J-Bay has that kind of flare that brings out the best in the more experienced surfers on tour, so it wouldn't surprise me to see one of veteran surfers take out this event. Or will Toledo be the first to win three consecutive titles at Jeffrey's Bay?
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