In a mere seven days, the world’s premier wave-riders will converge upon the legendary right-hand point break of Jeffreys Bay, affectionately known as J-Bay. This veritable mecca of surfing will play host to the Corona Open J-Bay, the ninth stop on the highly anticipated World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT). As the penultimate event of the regular CT season before the Rip Curl WSL Finals, this competition holds monumental significance in the race for the World Title. The coveted yellow Leader jerseys will be up for grabs from Thursday, July 13, through Saturday, July 22, 2023.
J-Bay’s reputation as one of the planet’s premier right-hand pointbreaks precedes it. This iconic stretch of coastline presents surfers with the perfect canvas for executing mind-bending maneuvers, epic barrel rides, and breathtaking aerial displays. Situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, this region is renowned not only for its world-class waves but also for its awe-inspiring landscapes, delectable cuisine, and wildlife encounters that can only be described as “out of this world.” Throughout the years, an illustrious list of surfing icons has dominated the lineup at J-Bay, etching their names into the annals of the sport. The likes of Mick Fanning (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), and Lisa Andersen (AUS) have all left an indelible mark on this prestigious event.
The stage is set, the spotlight is ready to shine, and the drama is about to unfold. World Champions Carissa Moore (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS) have already secured their coveted positions among the WSL Final 5. With three spots remaining for the women, the competition at J-Bay will be a battle of titans, as the world’s best female surfers vie for their shot at glory. On the men’s side, all WSL Final 5 spots are still up for grabs, providing an enticing prospect for the talented contenders. J-Bay possesses the potential to be a game-changer, reshuffling the deck and rearranging the pecking order in the pursuit of surfing supremacy. Additionally, with the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris looming on the horizon, the race to qualify is reaching fever pitch. Ten coveted men’s slots and four women’s slots are still undecided, heightening the stakes and making every point earned at J-Bay worth its weight in gold.
As the competitors gather on the sun-drenched shores of J-Bay, all eyes are on the formidable Carissa Moore (HAW), a five-time World Champion who currently sits atop the rankings. Having recently secured her place among the WSL Final 5, Moore arrives at J-Bay with a newfound sense of freedom and a burning desire to clinch the No. 1 spot heading into the Rip Curl WSL Finals. She knows the secrets to unlocking success at J-Bay, having triumphed here in 2019 and secured a commendable third-place finish last year. Moore’s graceful style and unparalleled skill make her a force to be reckoned with.
Another athlete commanding the spotlight is reigning World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA), who has resurfaced as the wearer of the esteemed yellow Leader jersey. This sartorial honor was bestowed upon him after Griffin Colapinto’s (USA) untimely elimination from the competition in Brazil. Toledo’s mastery of J-Bay’s flawless waves has seen him claim back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018. It was during the 2017 contest that Toledo etched his name in surfing lore, executing a perfect-10 double alley-oop that set a new standard for performance on the tour. His return to the jersey has undoubtedly ignited a renewed sense of purpose as he strives to continue his meteoric rise.
A notable absentee from the Brazilian leg of the tour, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) is set to make a triumphant return at J-Bay. Battling an ongoing illness, the living legend has had to overcome adversity on his journey back to competition. Slater, always a formidable presence at J-Bay, has claimed victory at this event on an impressive four occasions. Armed with unwavering determination and an insatiable hunger for success, he aims to secure his first event win of the season on the storied waves of J-Bay. Meanwhile, reigning eight-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) suffered an early exit in Brazil, causing her to slip to sixth place in the rankings. To reignite her quest for yet another World Title, Gilmore will need a strong showing at J-Bay to assert her dominance once more.
As the battle unfolds, defending event champions Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) set their sights on repeating their past triumphs, securing their places among the WSL Final 5. Weston-Webb currently sits just below the top five, ranked at an impressive sixth position. Meanwhile, Ewing’s impressive performance in Brazil, finishing as the runner-up, has propelled him to a commendable third place in the rankings. Should Ewing secure a place in the WSL Finals, he would stand a chance to become the first Australian male to claim the prestigious World Title since Mick Fanning’s triumphant victory in 2013.
With the Corona Open J-Bay beckoning, anticipation hangs in the air like the mist of the sea spray. The world’s best surfers will converge upon this iconic wave-rich landscape, prepared to put everything on the line for a shot at glory. The sun will rise, casting its golden light upon the cerulean canvas, and the surfers will emerge, weaving tales of determination, skill, and audacity. As the competition unfolds, J-Bay will bear witness to a symphony of elegance and power, as the world’s elite surfers dance with the waves, leaving an indelible imprint on the heart of surfing history.