We have reached just about the halfway point of the 2019 WSL Championship tour, and we find our selves in South Africa. A place that reminds us of Kelly’s broken foot, devil-wind-groomed rights, and that time Mick beat down on a great white. All jokes aside, Jbay holds a spot as one of my favorite stops on the tour, one because it is just such a classic wave plus we also get to see the top 34 spread their arms out and really form out while also still being able to get shacked. While I would say it favors regular footers, It’s safe to say some of the goofies can get after it on the backhand. Let’s take a dive into some things to keep your eyes on during the waiting period.
The Ideal Conditions: 2 Very Different Possibilities
The best and most entertaining conditions would be 6-8 occ. 10ft with light offshories. This would ensure we see every bit of action we could get, from tubes to turns to punts. It also would be the most level playing field, since goofies could play to the advantage of the tighter arc on smaller waves while regulars would go forehand and read the tricky tubes a wee bit better. The converse, which is also awesome to watch, is close to maxed out devil wind jbay. With giant tubes and waves that test the top 34s abilities, this would also be a hoot to watch.
The favorites: The Top 5
While it might seem fairly obvious since they are “technically” the 5 best surfers in the world currently, these guys have been looking tack sharp and definitely can surf to the beat of Jbay. With Filipe being the winner the past two years, he obviously would be a safe bet. Kanoa showed us his rail prowess at Keramas, and has been riding that high since. He has a powerful rail game and if it is smaller can flair out in the air as well. Kolohe’s Mick-esque form and powerful build also lend to him being able to find success at this event. Jordy has put up huge numbers, and also is looking poised in the 4th place spot on the rankings. The one most likely to maybe lose early on would be Italo, strictly because he is a goofy foot and has been looking patchier this year (I am unsure if he is still repping the ankle brace as well).
The Dark Horses: Rcal, The GOAT, Avoca Jesus, Seabass
While goofy footers have not faired well as far as a victory at Jbay in quite some time, Ryan Callinan proved to us at bells that the backhand can do some damage in bigger more open canvas waves. After that performance and the amount of push he can get off his heelside, he is my goofy pick to gar far (sans Medina and Italo). You can never count out the GOAT, since he has done this here and has always had a liking to the large groomed walls. Expect him to be fired up, since his last time there was when he injured his foot. Wade Carmichael is a solid pick and more of a no brainer rather than a dark horse since he is a larger surfer and has a lethal rail game. His presence overall tends to slip under the radar and hence is why he might be considered not to be a threat. I expect him to go far, especially if it is big and burly. Finally, Seabass has yet to find his feet this year and I feel like maybe has something to prove. Bass has one of the most polished rail games, and is a frother so if it is on he will be chomping at the bit to blitz some lips. He could easily be a winner here, and would be awesome to see since he is sans sponsor.
Maybe Avoid: Most goofies, less fluid surfers
Most goofies will be at slight disadvantage especially if it is big devil wind jbay. While it is not impossible, we have not seen a goofy hoist the trophy in a while. There are some who can pull it off and like stated earlier, if it is smaller it will open up the door for some to use the tighter pocket to their advantage or launch some airs. Aside from the goofies, some regular foots that lack a fluid approach (it is hard to name some, but for instance maybe a Peterson Crisanto) to look a little shaky against some of the more rail oriented surfers that flock the tour. No knock to Peterson or any of the other people who could come to mind, but there are just some guys that link turns together in such a polished manner that even if the surfing is less powerful or technical, it will look better on the walled rights.
And that’s all he wrote. It will be interesting to see what mother nature has in store, in terms of waves but and also if the locals in the grey suits will be attempting to regulate. The waiting period is only a couple days away; so all we have to do is wait. It looks like it has been cooking for the warm ups.