Location: Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Event window: July 2 – 16, 2018
The world’s best surfers returned to Jeffreys Bay for the first time since 2000 in the opening day of the Women’s Corona Open J-Bay, Stop No. 6 on World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). Rounds 1 and 2 were contested in four-to-six foot (1.2 – 1.8 metre) waves at the world-famous Supertubes.
The goofyfoots stole the show with Round 1’s biggest wins going to event wildcard Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), World No. 3 Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), CT sophomore Bronte Macaulay (AUS), and rookie Caroline Marks (AUS).
Buitendag, a six-year CT veteran who fell off tour last year, showed her local knowledge with a big win over World No. 1 Lakey Peterson (USA) and Malia Manuel (HAW) in Round 1 Heat 3. The local hero clinched the win with an impressive 8.87 on her final try. In her post-heat interview, Buitendag admitted her struggles with a recent back injury, but that did not stop her from taking a big win in front of her home crowd.
I think for all the girls it is hard to believe we are actually here, it is actually four-to-six foot and running all the way down, so it is a bit surreal but we are settling into it. I am very happy to be here. Maybe it doesn’t seem so, but every time I try to bottom-turn or finish a turn, it kind of locks up in the lower back. I’ve been working twice a day to recover. I guess I am ready, I am here and making some heats.
Peterson’s loss to Buitendag relegated her to Round 2 where she matched up with Nicole Pallet (ZAF). Pallet received a late call-up to her career-first CT event to replace Tyler Wright (AUS), who withdrew this morning due to influenza. With elimination on the line, Peterson pushed her surfing to the excellent range with a near-perfect 9.00 and the win over Pallet. Peterson will advance to Round 3, while Pallet is eliminated in Equal 13th place.
I obviously never want to be in Round 2, but I was stoked to get another heat out there, it has been hard because the guys have been running out there all week, but the more time you get out there, the better, especially in a jersey.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), six-time WSL Champion, defeated fellow Australians Nikki Van Dijk and Macy Callaghan in Round 1 Heat 4. Gilmore attacked the Supertubes sets to garner two solid 7-point rides and direct entry into Round 3.
That feeling of waking up, peering out the window, and seeing a six-foot set is the greatest feeling in the world, then, knowing you get to paddle and surf it with nobody else is such a joy. It can be overwhelming and you have to remind yourself that this is a contest. It was a fun heat and I am so happy to be here and surfing. I watched Filipe (Toledo) win yesterday and it was so inspiring. I feel like I didn’t even get started out there. I’ve got so much for to give.
The second Round 1 heat, featuring Macaulay, Lima, and Pallet, witnessed domination by the Australian with a 15.43 heat total (out of a possible 20). Macaulay threw down big turns on her backhand for the win, with Lima in second with a 13.83, and Pallet in third with a 4.37.
Caroline Marks (USA), 16, continues to rack up heat wins in her rookie year on the elite CT. Marks claimed a big opening win over three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and CT veteran Coco Ho (HAW). Marks will now be against Brasil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb and Macaulay in Round 3.
Weston-Webb claimed the highest heat total of the day with a 16.37 combined score over Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Keely Andrew (AUS). Both Conlogue and Andrew surfed again in Round 2 where they were eliminated by Moore and Van Dijk , respectively.
Australians Sally Fitzgibbons and Macy Callaghan were also eliminated today in Round 2 against their respective competitors, Coco Ho (HAW) and Johanne Defay (FRA).
Fitzgibbons has had mixed results in 2018 with three top 5 finishes and three early exits. Now heading into the back half of the season, the Australian superstar will need big results to climb back up the Jeep Leaderboard. Fitzgibbons will have a chance to repeat her 2011 victory at the upcoming Vans US Open of Surfing to battle back into the World Title race.
A bad fall on Brasilian Silvana Lima’s opening wave in Round 1 Heat 2 caused an injury to her knee and forced her to withdraw from Round 2 against Manuel.
The Corona Open J-Bay will be broadcast LIVE on the WSL’s Facebook page. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
Women’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Sage Erickson (USA) 13.03, Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.90, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.70
Heat 2: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 15.43, Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.83, Nicole Pallet (ZAF) 4.37
Heat 3: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 15.04, Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.50, Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.93
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.24, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.67, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 8.90
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 16.37, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.27, Keely Andrew (AUS) 14.40
Heat 6: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.77, Caroline Marks (USA) 11.90, Coco Ho (HAW) 7.43
Women’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) def. Silvana Lima (BRA) INJ
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.50 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.10
Heat 3: Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.47 def. Nicole Pallet (ZAF) 4.93
Heat 4: Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.67 def. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 12.26
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.47 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 8.26
Heat 6: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.00 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.33
Women’s Corona Open J-Bay Round 3 Matchups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Carissa Moore (HAW), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Caroline Marks (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
All photos courtesy WSL