The men's Corona Open J-Bay started on the first day of the waiting period and didn't stop, with Filipe Toledo taking the win over Wade Carmichael in dreamy, 4-6 foot conditions. The sleepy town of Jeffreys Bay woke up for Finals day, turning this small sector of the world into the dream of surf destinations, with the sun peeking through and spectators flooding the event site. It was a week filled with triumphs, upsets and non-stop surfing.
Staff photographer Kelly Cestari, who grew up in South Africa, shares his favorite moments from a busy week on the WSL Championship Tour (CT).
A Stone's Throw
"Supers is like the North Shore in the sense of how close the spectators can get to the action, literally stone's throw distance. I've given up cursing situations like this after investing in a lens which allows me to zoom in and pull back all on one wave. Above, this is a family appreciating the surfing of Griffin Colapinto."
The Struggle Of Supers
"It sounds absurd, but I struggle to get a lineup shot of Supers that I really enjoy because it's been seen and shot a million times. It's the standard golden sunrise, aloe in the frame, wave peeling across, but Keanu Asing stalling for the barrel adds something else. He breaks up the standard lineup shot, so I enjoy this one."
Lurking In The Bushes
"I get to mix things up during a heat -- close-up, tight action shots or pulled-back crowd shots. I also get to lurk amongst the bushes for the scenery action shots. There's so much variety at Supers that you never really get bored. These angles are not always guaranteed, either, because the surfer is a moving target down the lineup, thus what is in front of you also changes. A branch or leaf or aloe could thwart what would otherwise have made a nice frame. Here it all came together with Ace Buchan."
Medina's Family, No. 1 Fans
"This is Gabriel Medina surfing. Charlie his step-dad is watching from the beach with his mom. The boardwalk at J-Bay allows for these semi-aerial views which generally flatten the wave, making it look small, but I was going for the family aspect of a Medina heat."
O'Leary's Dream Tour
"Connor O'Leary living his dream Tour."
Parko, Peanut Butter + Jam
"Joel and J-Bay are like peanut butter and jam, they just go perfectly together. It's difficult to think this was the last time we'd see them in action together, but things change. A once-in-a-lifetime swell can appear on the charts and Joel may appear in the lineup as well."
Cheers For A Shark
"This is the shark that casually swam through the lineup. When a surfer does an amazing turn or wins a heat, the crowd erupts. Not sure if it was awe or fear, but the noise from the crowd [for this fish] was just as loud as a heat-winning cheer."
The GOAT Returns
"Kelly's return to J-Bay was highly anticipated both by myself and his fans. Getting the two to line up was tricky and fun. The wave is long enough to get multiple angles and framing during a single heat."
A Ski-High View
"I will take the option of shooting in the water at any opportunity, but I do not enjoy cold water so sitting on the ski is beneficial to being nice and warm, as well as for elevation. Jordy and J-Bay are quite synonymous. The water angle here lets you show off the beach, the rocks, the house, a truly nature-meets-man amphitheater."
A Perspective Not Often Seen
"I love flying, which is a good thing considering the amount of time we spend traveling with the Tour. But this plane only has two seats and I am lucky enough to sit my bum in one of those each year. The spotter plane has the primary task of aerial surveillance for shark activity but it also offers the view of Jeffreys Bay not often seen. I had no idea there was gorge -- or rift -- valley amongst the houses of Jeffreys. The water was pretty clear so we spotted two whales, a big pod of dolphins and, after close inspection, a lone seal trying to look like a shark."
Annual Golden Aloe Tradition
"Just like the golden lineup, what is a morning at Jeffreys Bay without a Golden Aloe? It has been done a million times, but it's still something I do every year. It's mandatory and, with a cup of coffee to enjoy the scenery, you just soak it all in and start the day."
Shout Outs For A Shot
"While shooting there are turns which will elicit a 'phwaaooo.' It's a verbal acknowledgment of something I've just shot, which I like. This was one of them. I wish I could surf 1/1000th of his ability."
Within the exceptional surfer and family man is that fierce competitive animal which had him roaring up the beach. Capturing raw emotion is great, pardon the pun :)
Sportsmanship Of Surfing
"As much as these guys want to destroy each other in their heats, sportsmanship will always win. Jordy won and Julian gave him a congratulatory high-five. Just as surfing can learn from other sports, other sports can learn from surfing."
Next call for the women's Corona Open J-Bay is Friday July 13 at 7:30 a.m. SAST. Watch live daily on Worldsurfleague.com and Facebook.