After four of the most incredible days of competition this year, the Corona Open J-Bay came to a remarkable conclusion in pumping surf at Supertubes on Thursday, with Filipe Toledo taking the win in firing, eight-foot rights. This 2017 edition of this classic event, with all the drama, upsets and unbelievable performances, will undoubtedly lock it into the history books as one of the best J-Bay has ever seen.
Toledo, sporting green hair and all, was undoubtedly the best surfer of the week. Even Mick Fanning, J-Bay's best ever, doesn't even blink when he tells you Toledo is the fastest surfer in the world. That's some seriously high praise from the 3x World Champion, who's been carrying that torch for most of the last decade.
Toledo's speed is only the half of it, however. There's a vicious rail game, absurd air game, and a heavy dose of creative genius. His lines are fresh and new. And while rookie Frederico Morais put on an incredible show this week as well, Toledo delivered the total package this week. At times, he made the rest of the field look almost old-fashioned.
In the Final, Filipe got the best of an early exchange with a couple of massive carves and tucking in to a clean inside section for a 9.17. Frederico answered with a square barrel on a big wave but exited it a little early where he could have probably chased a near-perfect score, posting an 8.33 to stay within striking distance of the Brazilian.
A new exchange on back-to-back waves went the Portuguese surfer's way this time as Fred annihilated a long wave with several radical carves in the pocket for a 9.40, the highest single score of the Final at that point, only needing a higher 8-point score to get back in the lead.
With three minutes on the clock, Filipe with priority blocked Frederico on the last wave the heat would see and marched away with the fourth Championship Tour victory of his career.
"I can't believe it," he said. "J-Bay is always a contest that's been my dream to win. To surf perfect waves like this that 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."
All six events this season have been won by separate surfers. Toledo's victory vaulted him to No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard, putting him back in the hunt.
Semifinal 1 Medina vs. Morais
In the opening semifinal, former World Champion Gabriel Medina couldn't quite replicate the level of performance he brought yesterday to eliminate Mick Fanning in the Quarters. Once again, it was the Portuguese rookie who found the best waves, and surfed them incredibly well to advance into his first Final.
Medina matched his season-best result so far with an equal-third and will bump back up the rankings heading into an event at which he's very comfortable, the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
Semifinal 2: Wilson vs. Toledo
On paper, Julian Wilson against Filipe in Semifinal No. 2 was one for the ages. But unfortunately, the ocean slowed down a little bit and both surfers struggled at first to find the magic rides. Filipe somehow continued to find the right sections to get barreled and lay his big carves. Julian tried to fight back but couldn't match the Brazilian's flair on the smaller sets and got clipped by a couple of barrels that could have perhaps done the job for him.
Previously, Filipe had eliminated the local crowd's favorite, Jordy Smith, with an incredible first heat at sunrise and a couple of massive 9+ scores to launch his assault towards the event title.
Julian eliminated current World No. 1 and wearer of the coveted Jeep yellow jersey Matt Wilkinson in the last Quarterfinal.
Heading into Tahiti, Matt Wilkinson still holds on to the Jeep Leader's yellow jersey, but there's been a shakeup just beyond him; Toledo and Medina are now firmly inside the Top 10, while Owen Wright and Adriano de Souza have each dropped out of the equal-second-place tie. Only time will tell what surprises await next.
Corona Open J-Bay Final Results:
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