The World Surf League Corona Open at J-Bay is one of professional surfing’s biggest annual events, and the build-up to this competition is always buzzing with well-deserved hype. Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa is a world-class surfing location, and once a year the apex athletes of pro surfing congregates here to throw down and prove their skill.
The 2017 edition of this famous competition delivered in a major way, although not exactly in the ways surfing analysts were predicting heading into the event. The biggest names being predicted to win the 2017 WSL Corona Open J-Bay competition did not even end up in the semifinals, which was a surprise to a lot of people. All the same, this event turned out to be a big one for the Brazilian professional surfers, with Brazilian athletes taking home the first place victory and the third place podium finish as well.
Here we will be reflecting on how the 2017 Corona Open J-Bay final results contrasted so sharply from the mainline surfing analyst predictions going into the event, in addition to covering the final scoring breakdown. Continue reading on to learn all the must-know details from the 2017 World Surf League Corona Open at Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa!
How The Pre-Event Projections For The 2017 WSL Corona Open J-Bay Ended Up So Wrong
Heading into the 2017 WSL Corona Open J-Bay competition, there was a lot of hype surrounding one of the primary current surfing rivalries between John John Florence and Jordy Smith. This rivalry has been stoked in recent years between the two modern day professional surfing titans, and especially at the annual J-Bay Open contests. With this intense rivalry in mind, and the incredibly high skill level of both surfers, many analysts were predicting a fierce battle between John John Florence and Jordy Smith that had a strong chance of going all the way to the semifinal and final rounds.
It wasn’t meant to be, however, with both Jordy Smith and John John Florence getting eliminated from the competition in the quarterfinals. Neither surfer performed particularly bad, and neither one of them choked or had fluke performances. At the end of the day, they simply were not surfing at the level of the Brazilian surfers like Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina and this cost them their possible entry into the semifinal and final rounds.
We would be remiss if we didn’t also point out the unfortunate incident that happened to Kelly Slater in Heat 8, Round 3, when he sustained an injury so bad that it took him out of the entire competition. Slater ended up breaking two metatarsal bones in his right foot while free surfing out at the Boneyards spot in Jeffrey’s Bay. He took to Instagram to share the X-Ray results with the world, and suffice it to say that it wasn’t pretty, having shattered two of the primary bones in his foot. Slater is expected to be out of the World Surf League season proceedings for at least the next six weeks, and we wish him a speedy and successful recovery.
Weather And Surf Conditions Through The Progression Of The 2017 WSL Corona Open J-Bay
Thankfully, the weather and surf conditions held up for the duration of the 2017 World Surf League Corona Open J-Bay competition. The conditions were less than perfect though, with a lot of overcast conditions and some days of smaller surf. Not exactly the very best that Jeffrey’s Bay has to offer, but certainly good enough to host an epic J-Bay Open competition for 2017.
On some of the best days during the competition, surfers were treated to nearly double-overhead waves that were actually quite impressive at times. The fluctuations in break height and speed made for a kind of inconsistent competition to some degree, but that did not stop the world’s greatest professional surfers from showcasing their world-class surfing skill sets.
1st Place – Filipe Toledo – Brazil
Triumphantly securing the first place victory at the 2017 World Surf League Corona Open J-Bay was Brazilian surfer Filipe Toledo. He was performing strongly throughout the entire competition, executing some of the cleanest aerials and snaps of anyone in the J-Bay lineup. Starting out with Filipe’s quarterfinal round performance, he was paired up against Jordy Smith in the third heat. Toledo ended up completely dominating Jordy Smith in the quarterfinals, with an astounding 5.44 points separating their respective quarterfinal scores.
Filipe was snagging solid wave after solid wave, and capitalizing on virtually every single one of them. Jordy Smith seemed to be hesitating a bit in terms of choosing his lines and launches, and so he wasn’t able to pack as much point scoring into his heat performance. Filipe Toledo finished out the quarterfinals with a total scoring value of 18.70 points, which turned out to be the second highest overall score in the quarterfinal round. The average wave score for Heat 3, Quarterfinals came out to 7.99 points overall, and this was the point at which Jordy Smith was eliminated from the competition.
Similar to Filipe’s quarterfinal performance, he did quite well in the semifinals although he did not take the highest overall score from that round. Fortunately for Filipe, all he needed to accomplish in the semifinals was to win his own heat in order to advance to the final round. Toledo was matched up against the Australian pro surfer Julian Wilson in the semifinals, and just like in Toledo’s quarterfinal performance, he defeated his heat opponent by over five whole points.
Toledo had absolutely no difficulty putting Julian Wilson away, considering that both of Filipe’s Wave Scores were 8.30 points or higher. Julian was unable to reach a Wave Score over 6.50 points so he didn’t have much hope of advancing. Advancing on from the semifinals into the final round, Filipe Toledo closed out Heat 2, Semifinals with a total scoring value of 16.63 points. The average wave scoring for Heat 2, Semifinals came out to exactly 6.99 points in total.
Although the final round didn’t come down to John John Florence and Jordy Smith like some surfing analysts were predicting, it did come down to an incredibly close and intense competition that was one for the record books. The final round came down to the Brazilian pro Filipe Toledo and Frederico Morais of Portugal. Both surfers were truly operating at the top of their game, with both of them throwing full 360 aerials and just basically leaving everything they had out in the lineup at J-Bay.
Their final round matchup put the cherry on top of an already exciting 2017 WSL Corona Open at J-Bay. Even though Frederico Morais had the highest individual wave scoring of the final round, he was not able to surpass Filipe Toledo’s final overall scoring value of 18.00 points. With a tiny scoring margin of only 0.27 points separating Filipe Toledo and Frederico Morais at the conclusion of the 2017 Corona Open J-Bay, this was an exceptionally tight finish and one of the most spectacular in recent memory. The average wave score in the final round was set at a towering 8.93 points, illustrating the elite level Toledo and Morais were surfing at.
2nd Place – Frederico Morais – Portugal
Frederico Morais was without a doubt one of the most entertaining professional surfers to compete at the 2017 Corona Open at J-Bay, and his risk vs. reward surfing style definitely paid off for him this time around. Securing the second place runner-up finish at this year’s J-Bay Open, Morais was actually dominating the rest of the field throughout the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. He was able to secure the highest overall score in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, though unfortunately that did not translate to the final round where Morais lost by a stunningly slim margin of only 0.27 points.
In the quarterfinals, Morais was pitted against John John Florence. This is somewhat ironic since as it turned out, the two contenders that everyone thought would go to the finals (John John Florence and Jordy Smith) ended up both facing down the two actual finalists in the quarterfinal round. John John Florence put up a very tough fight in the quarterfinals against Frederico Morais, but it wasn’t quite enough as he lost to Morais by just over one point.
Morais was absolutely thriving in the quarterfinals, and so was John John, but Frederico simply outdid him by a slight margin according to the judges. Morais closed out his performance in Heat 2, Quarterfinals with a 19.77 point score, which was actually the second highest heat score in the entire competition except for Jordy Smith’s perfect 20.00 score in Heat 7, Round 3.
Heading into the semifinals, Frederico Morais was matched up against another Brazilian competitor, Gabriel Medina. Although Medina put up a solid performance, executing a lot of hard and fast cutbacks on the nearly double overhead J-Bay breaks that day, it was not nearly enough to beat Frederico Morais who was on an absolute rampage. Frederico actually even earned a 9.27 point Wave 2 scoring in Heat 1, Semifinals, which allowed him to seal the deal and close Medina out. At the conclusion of Heat 1, Semifinals, Frederico Morais managed to earn a 17.37 point total scoring value from the judges. The average wave score for this heat came in at 8.02 points.
After doing so well throughout the earlier rounds, the quarterfinals, and semifinals too, Frederico was able to carry his momentum into the finals but without quite as much power and technical agility. It is unclear whether he simply started to burn out a little bit near the end of the competition, or if final round nerves got to him, but it seemed like his fast-twitch muscle movement on the wave was starting to dull out toward the end of the finals making him slightly slower and giving Filipe Toledo the opportunity to take the victory. Frederico Morais finished out the final round with a total scoring value of 17.73 points overall, with the average wave score rounding out to 8.93 points.
3rd Place – Gabriel Medina – Brazil
Another Brazilian professional surfer to make the podium at the 2017 World Surf League Corona Open at J-Bay, Gabriel Medina was hanging tough in spite of his scores lagging significantly behind the leaders. Medina actually performed and scored better in the earlier rounds of the competition than he did in the semifinal and quarterfinal rounds, especially during his Heat 1, Quarterfinals run. Medina was matched up against Mick Fanning in the quarterfinals, and handily bested Fanning by a towering 6.07 points in total. Gabriel Medina closed out his Heat 1, Quarterfinals performance with a 17.40 point total score from the judges.
The semifinals presented Gabriel Medina with a very real chance of possibly making it into the finals, but he would have to go through Frederico Morais first. It simply was not going to happen though, since Morais was surfing at a completely different level from Gabriel Medina in Heat 1, Semifinals of the 2017 Corona Open at J-Bay. Medina put up a valiant effort though, and in no way did Frederico Morais blow him out of the water.
Medina was able to generate a 14.70 point total score for his semifinal round performance, compared to Frederico Morais earning a 17,37 point score. So with less than a three-point margin between the two competitors, it certainly was a fairly close matchup at the end of the day. Taking third place is no small feat however, and should help to provide Gabriel Medina with some vital momentum heading into the next 2017 WSL tour stop at the Billabong Pro Tahiti.