Filipe Toledo (BRA) won the Corona Open J-Bay today, defeating rookie Frederico Morais (PRT) in the final held in pumping 2.0 to 2.5 metre waves at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay.
Stop No. 6 of 11 on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) was graced with seven days of flawless conditions, resulting in barrier-breaking performances by the world’s best surfers, including eight perfect 10-point rides and no shortage of drama.
Toledo, who posted two of the perfect 10s, showcased a new level to his progressive approach and jumped from 14th to 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard following his best finish of the season to re-ignite his 2017 World Title campaign.
“I can’t believe it,” said Toledo. “J-Bay is always a contest that’s been my dream to win. To surf perfect waves like we did the entire contest, I’ve got to thank god for the amazing week that we’ve had. I’ve got my entire family here and supporting me. It’s unbelievable and I’m speechless. I think I might leave my hair like this for the rest of the year.”
Toledo’s fourth career CT win did not come easily as he was tested by a stacked field of competitors. The 22-year-old dispatched local favourite Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the quarterfinals with two impressive 9-point rides and then eliminated Julian Wilson (AUS) in the Semifinals.
“It has been an amazing week,” Toledo said. “This is definitely going to be the competition I remember for forty or fifty years, not just because I won but because of the level of surfing during this whole week.”
The final saw exciting exchanges between the Toledo and Morais as they matched each other with excellent-range scores in the long sweeping lines of overhead swell peeling down the Supertubes racetrack. With ten minutes left on the clock and Toledo leading, Morais locked in a near-perfect 9.40 to close the gap to just 0.27 points. But even though Toledo left his opponent with priority for the last two minutes of the heat, Morais was not able to surpass Toledo’s total of 18.0 out of 20.
Morais delivered phenomenal surfing throughout his first CT event in South Africa, causing an upset when he delivered a perfect 10 to defeat reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) in the quarterfinals, before eliminating 2015 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the semifinals. Morais’ career-best finish will now move him up from World No. 18 to 12th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I just love this place, it is amazing,” Morais said. “Everyone is so nice, the waves are amazing, the weather is really similar to home, and the vibe that you feel here is crazy good. It is an unforgettable place. Thank you to everyone for watching and supporting us. First Final ever on the World Tour and it is amazing.
South Africa’s two-time event winner Jordy Smith (Durban) was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Toledo to finish fifth overall. It was an incredible event for Smith who posted a perfect 20-point heat total in Round 3 and another perfect 10 point ride in Round 5.
“This comp has had some amazing points for me and some where I’ve struggled, but overall I’m proud of myself and I stood tall between those moments and dealt with them,” Smith said. “Filipe (Toledo) surfed great in that last heat and he definitely got better waves than I did and that’s really the difference out there.
“I’m just really, really tired. Yesterday was just a big day for me. I just want to thank Jeffreys Bay for all the support and everybody that came down, it really meant a lot and I really appreciate that. I learn every time when I come here. There’s a lot of pressure because everybody wants me to do well and I want to do well you just have to take each heat for what it is. The year really starts now and Tahiti is next so I’m focused on that now and we’ll see where that puts me.”
With Matt Wilkinson (AUS), John John Florence (HAW) and Smith all bowing out in the quarterfinals, they retain their respective top three positions on the Jeep Leaderboard after six of the 11 events on the 2017 Championship Tour have been completed.
The next stop on the 2017 Men’s WSL CT will be the Billabong Pro Tahiti from August 11 – 22, 2017. The women will next compete at the Vans US Open of Surfing, which opens July 31 and runs through August 6, 2017.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com
Corona Open J-Bay Final Result:
1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.00
2: Frederico Morais (PRT) 17.73
Corona Open J-Bay Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Frederico Morais (PRT) 17.37 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.70
SF 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.63 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.33
Corona Open J-Bay Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.40 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.33
Heat 2: Frederico Morais (PRT) 19.77 def. John John Florence (HAW) 18.67
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.70 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.26
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.07 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.77
2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Corona Open J-Bay):
1 – Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 31,950 points
2 – John John Florence (HAW) 31,700 points
3 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 31,350 points
4 – Owen Wright (AUS) 30,150 points
5 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 27,900 points