Brazil’s Filipe Toledo won the Men’s Corona Open J-Bay for the second year in a row on Thursday.
The Brazilian lit up 1.3-2 metre waves at Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay to win the sixth stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and vault to World No 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard.
‘Back-to-back wins is always something that I’ve dreamed of,’ said Toledo. ‘It could not be more special than here in J-Bay after last year, and this year we’ve had such good waves again. Thanks, God. Thanks, Jesus. Thank you to my family and everyone supporting me. I feel so blessed right now.’
Toledo’s win came with spectacular performances throughout the entire event. Out of the top 10 highest single-wave scores of the Corona Open J-Bay, five belonged to Toledo (all nine-point rides). The same was true for the event’s highest heat total, where Toledo was responsible for five of the top ten.
The 23-year-old is now 7-0 for finals wins, defeating every opponent he’s ever faced in a final. Toledo will now move up to first on the Jeep Rankings and wear the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey at Stop No 7 on the WSL CT, the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o.
Leading the next generation of progressive surfing, this latest victory over 2018 CT Rookie Wade Carmichael (Australia) is the second by the Brazilian this year.
‘Repeating the final with Wade Carmichael, who has been really solid the whole event and surfing really well, it was a pleasure to surf against him. He took down some really big names. I’m stoked to get the win and thank you to everyone.’
The rematch of the Oi Rio Pro Final earlier in May saw Toledo and Carmichael throw big scores in the J-Bay lineup. Carmichael opened the exchange with a commanding 7.33 (out of a possible 10), but Toledo was on the next wave to challenge the Australian with an 8.50. The back-and-forth battle continued with only one-tenth of a point separating the two surfers at the halfway mark.
The Brazilian then opened the gap with a critical 8.33, but gave the Australian one last opportunity to challenge. In the dying seconds of the heat, Carmichael attempted a big aerial manoeuvre but missed the landing and the scoring opportunity, giving Toledo the win.
In his first time competing at the Corona Open J-Bay, Carmichael claimed a stunning second-place result with big wins over event favourite and local hero Jordy Smith (SA) in the semi-finals and Conner Coffin (USA) in the quarters. The 25-year-old from the Central Coast of Australia showed here that he is fast becoming a mainstay among the world elite with a boost to World No 6.
‘I had no expectations coming into this year,’ said Carmichael. ‘I’m really happy. I just want to keep improving my surfing. I’m having that much fun, and I just want to keep going. I am just enjoying every minute of this. I just want to thank everyone. The support was ridiculous. This place is unreal and I love it. I feel right at home on the wave. It is amazing.’
Carmichael stopped local hero Smith from earning his third event win at this year’s Corona Open J-Bay. The extremely close semi-final saw Carmichael garner a 13.77 two-wave total to Smith’s 13.30. The 0.47-point difference eliminated Smith in equal third place.
‘Maybe some of my scores I felt like were maybe flipped, but Wade is surfing really well and I wish him the best of luck,’ Smith said. ‘It’s been really nice for me to be home. I just want to thank everyone for so much support – it has been awesome. It is a third, it is not the worst thing in the world, it could have been way worse. I am just going to keep having fun and enjoying my time here in J-Bay.’
Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) fell to Toledo in the second semi-final. The 20-year-old was responsible for the highest single-wave score of the event, a near-perfect 9.67 in round four, but was not able to bring the results against the eventual winner.
Julian Wilson (AUS) fell to Smith in the second quarter-final. The Australian came into this event as World No 1, but his fifth-place finish now moves him down to second on the Jeep Leaderboard. Wilson is the defending event winner of the next men’s CT stop, the Tahiti Pro, and now prepares to defend his win at the infamous Teahupo’o.
‘Me and Jordy have had plenty of good battles and we had another close one there,’ said Wilson. ‘I feel like that was a great result. I didn’t find my best this week in J-Bay but was able to find a good result. It is just past halfway in the year and there are a lot of good events left. I am excited for Tahiti.’
The waiting period for the Women’s Corona Open J-Bay opens on Friday and will run through 16 July.
Photo: Toledo in J-Bay action, by WSL/Cestari