J-Bay Open

J-Bay Recap: Goofyfooters Take Backhand Stand

Highlights: J-Bay Heats Up
Field narrows as goofyfooters step up, and eliminations begin.

Condensed Heats
Recap: Round 1
Full Results

Only one goofyfooter has won the Championship Tour (CT) event in South Africa -- Mark Occhilupo (AUS) in 1984 -- but during Round 2 and the opening heats of Round 3, aggressive backhand attacks led to some of the biggest scores: At day's end, the goofyfooters had claimed seven of the contest's 12 nine-point rides.

Wright Opens Door to Nine Pointers
Owen Wright scored the first nine-point ride of the event in Round 2 matching the pace of a speedy wave at J-Bay.

Owen Wright (AUS) was the first competitor to break into the nine-point range, earning a 9.00 during his Round 2 heat and an excellent 8.73 in his Round 3 loss against fellow goofyfooter Adrian Buchan (AUS). Reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), who has had a rough start to the 2015 season, also scored a ride in the nine-point range after a combination of progressive maneuvers in Round 2. Australian Matt Wilkinson earned the highest score by a goofyfooter at the event so far, a 9.37 for an aggressive vertical attack in Round 2.

Wilko's Backhand Statement
Matt Wilkinson finds a dangerous rhythm to start Round 2 with an excellent range score.

Of the 12 goofyfooters in the draw, seven remain in contention for the event title, and, so far, only one -- Freddy Patacchia (HAW) -- has fallen to a regularfooter. Three have already earned a direct advance to Round 4.

"It's obviously a difficult wave on your backhand because it slows down and speeds up and it's kind of hard to read," said Nat Young (USA), a goofyfooter who earned two excellent-range scores during his Round 2 heat and who is already into Round 4. "I feel comfortable on my backhand. I grew up surfing waves not quite this good but similar."

Other standouts included Joel Parkinson (AUS), a former J-Bay champ and last year's runner-up, who earned the highest heat total of the contest so far -- an 18.84 -- compliments of two rides in the nine-point range.

YELLOW JERSEY WATCH: The two surfers atop the CT rankings, Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Filipe Toledo (BRA), are through to Round 3. Both Brazilians earned excellent-range scores (8.00 or above) for long lines of progressive maneuvers.

"It's really tough to be in Round 2 at the point where I am right now, the Top 2," said Toledo. "It's really hard to come from Fiji where it's really warm, with lefts. It's all different here -- it's cold, you're going to surf rights and it's really windy, so it's hard. I was stoked we had some lay days because it was good to figure out everything and be in the right place."

Toledo Survives Round 2
Michael February goes up against the high-flying Filipe Toledo in Round 2 of the J-Bay Open.

Other rankings shakeups included early exits for World No. 6 Taj Burrow (AUS), who was eliminated by injury replacement Alejo Muniz (BRA) in Round 2, and Wright, World No. 3, in Round 3.

The J-Bay Open has a waiting period through July 19. Watch daily on worldsurfleague.com and the WSL app.

Watch: Goofyfooter Wilkinson's J-Bay Tutorial