NewsCorona Open J-BayJosh Kerr

Hidden In Plain Sight

In a recent post we looked at how four giants, Fanning, Slater, Smith and Parko, have dominated the Corona Open J-Bay. It is a wave that for all its perfection brutally highlights any flaws in a surfer's style. You need a combination of experience and technique to do well here and that's why lower ranked surfers have struggled against the giants. However the Supers lineup does at least provide a level playing field. And with a level playing field comes opportunity. We take a look at the final third of the field and cherry pick a few potential backmarkers who have the potential to turn opportunity into a giant killing run.

Joan Duru
For a Tour rookie Joan Duru has plenty of history at Jeffreys Bay. The Frenchman surfed as a 21-year-old in the 2010 Billabong Pro CT event, taking the highly prized scalp of Taylor Knox in an impressive display. However it was in 2012 where he made the Final of the QS event that he stamped his credentials on the wave. That week featured some of the best conditions ever seen in J-Bay competitive history and Duru's backhand was the standout weapon in a stacked field. If anything that sword has only been sharpened in the intervening years and with confidence on the rise from a solid performance in Fiji, Duru's odds should be a lot shorter than his current World No 27 suggests.

Joan's Dreams.
3:26
This 28-year-old from France is the Tour's oldest rookie, but he arrives battle-hardened and ready. Here's his story.

Stu Kennedy
While his debut at J-Bay last year ended in a disappointing Round Two exit at the hands of Dusty Payne, Stu Kennedy has the technique and equipment to thrive at Supertubes. His homebreak of Lennox Head is one of the few righthand points that can hold a candle to Jeffreys Bay and Kennedy's down-the-line speed, fin release and quality pointbreak reads should give him advantage over other backmarkers in the field. Additionally if the event is run in smaller swells and/or onshore conditions, his underrated aerial attack could make a difference.

Stu Kennedy placed second in Heat 12 of Round Two. Stu hits the coping. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Josh Kerr
Let's be honest; Josh Kerr is having a shocker in 2017. One heat win all year from a perennial top ten performer must have shaken the affable Aussie's confidence. However the adage of that form is temporary and class permanent can be applied to Kerr. It was also at J-Bay that Kerr registered his best result year, a Semifinal finish that included wins over Kelly Slater, Michel Bourez, Italo Ferreira and Jack Freestone. That run was built on his key strengths of tuberiding ability and variety and they haven't gone anywhere. He desperately needs to turn his year around and J-Bay offers a great chance for redemption.

Kerr's Variety Show.
1:53
Josh Kerr pulls off another exceptional maneuver for another big score in Round Two.

Wiggolly Dantas
Wedged into the back third of the ratings after a disastrous start, the Brazilian goofyfooter's natural affinity with J-Bay provides the ideal platform to get himself off the bubble. Few surfers on Tour go as vertical on their backhand as Dantas and over the years at J-Bay his silk covered hammer blows have consistently been rewarded with big scores. He's made it to Round Five in his two outings here and his goals will be to push on to the Quarterfinals and beyond in 2017.

Wiggolly's Hammers.
0:22
Wiggolly Dantas kicked off his heat in Round 2 with a 9.00.

Conner Coffin
Three 25ths have derailed a solid start to the year, but few international surfers of such a young age have built up an affinity with the wave as the Californian naturalfooter. That didn't stop him from copping a Round Two loss last year (all be it a slightly controversial one), but if you've seen him draw his powerlines in the many video edits he's dropped at J-Bay it seems implausible that he won't make his competitive mark here soon. With his lineup markers dialed in, his compact style and down-the-line flow perfectly suited to the pace of the wave, he will just need to find a run of rhythm to go on a giant-killing run.

Conner Coffin of the USA during Round Two. Conner lays into J-Bay. WSL / Kirstin Scholtz
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