What an eventful day again at the Corona Open J-Bay! The point continued to pump perfect six-to-eight foot bombs all day and the action was once again, unbelievable. Here's how the day went down.
Do-Over No. 1
When competition resumed with Heat 3 of Round Four, it was a clean slate for everyone involved and in slightly smaller surf with the right wind, Filipe Toledo came to life. The Brazilian took the debate to the air with a first big forehand rotation for a 9.
As soon as he paddled for the next wave you could tell he was looking for the same section, traveling full speed down the line, he launched into a massive alley-oop perfectly landed on the shoulder. And as if that wasn't enough, he continued on the same wave and launched into a second huge alley-oop, lighting up the early crowds already in the grandstand. The score could go no other way, it was a 10, and Filipe moved on to the Quarters.
World No. 1 Matt Wilkinson came out on top of the final Round Four matchup against power surfers Michel Bourez and Conner Coffin. Wilko had a slow start but bounced back and dominated on his last two efforts to post an 8.50 and a final wave of 9.43 for the win.
Rescue Crew Takes a Bow
Part of all the excitement this morning came when a massive set caught everyone too deep on the point, including the safety boat. Facing surfers trying to paddle out through the 10-foot white water, the pilot had no other choice but to ride the wave, dropping into the shoulder and charging down the line under the screams from everyone on the point.
Round Five Fireworks
As much as surfing was incredible from everyone in Round Five, results did not really surprise as some of the event's leaders who just had missteps in Round Four confirmed their form and advanced into the Quarters.
Mick Fanning first of all, one of the best-ever at J-Bay, put an end to Frenchman Joan Duru's great run in South Africa. Mick was just too strong, he surfed a wave on a board he apparently didn't like, as he came in to change it, and scored a 9.80. Imagine what could have been if he had his magic stick!
John John Florence continued to impress, even though his battle with Owen Wright was slightly less entertaining than his previous heats. He still managed to surf a fourth consecutive heat above 16 points and went on to have a re-match against Frederico Morais in the Quarters.
Julian Wilson nabbed the final Quarterfinal spot in a battle against Michel Bourez in Round Five. In a similar fashion, Julian unleashed his signature carves down the long J-Bay walls while Michel kept pushing a little too hard and failing to complete a full ride.
Do-Over No. 2
During the high-tide break, Conner Coffin's crew was busy showing evidence that part of a wave from the start of Heat 3 against Jordy Smith was missed from the judges' view and affacted the score he was given. The decision came and Conner and Jordy had to surf that heat, again.
The first time around, Jordy posted a 9.17 early on and controlled the heat from there. Conner fell on a few waves and was never able to pose any threat to the South African.
In the second time around, Jordy -- who reached perfection yesterday -- left nothing to chance and started similarly with a 9.37, but quickly got back on another bomb and this time surfed absolutely perfectly for a 10-point ride.
Mick's Faces His Biggest Fear...Again
As if the day hadn't been crazy enough, the opening Quarterfinal between Mick Fanning and Gabriel Medina had to be paused as a large shark invited himself into the lineup. Surfers were once again brought to safety rapidly, and when the team followed the fish way out of the point, surfers agreed to resume their heat.
Before going on hold, though, Gabriel had done a lot of damage, and Mick couldn't break out of the combination situation in the remaining five minutes of the heat.
Frederico Is No Fluke
Frederico "Kikas" Morais took down the reigning World Champ John John Florence in their Round Four matchup yesterday, surfing what was arguably the heat of his life. Today, in a man-on-man heat against the World Champ, John John's wave selection was on point and he posted two big 9s quite early on to apply pressure to the rookie.
Fred, however, rose to the challenge and selected a beautiful wave to rip it apart and drop a 9.77, the heat's highest score, answering right back to John John. The Hawaiian continued to flair and slightly improved his situation with a 9.10. With three minutes on the clock and first priority, Fred let go of all the pressure and annihilated a perfect-looking set wave to drop his first 10-point ride in this event, and eliminate Florence.
The day wrapped up after that second Quarterfinal. Jordy Smith and Filipe Toledo are slated to face off in Quarterfinal 3 when the action resumes. Tune in for the next call Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. local time.