Jeffreys Bay is one of the seven wonders of the surfing world. The combination of natural mechanics at work in the Supertubes lineup is the inspiration of wave-making scientists the world over, because the hollow, speedy walls that peel down the long point are every surfer's dream.
J-Bay, however, is deceptively tough to ride. It has a way of separating the best from the rest. This can make things more difficult for Fantasy players too, because it's too easy to be lulled into picking proven performers like Julian Wilson, Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith and Gabriel Medina. And while the women will be competing here for the first time in a generation, you'd be hard-pressed to bet against Stephanie Gilmore. But to that end, the herd mentality going into J-Bay is huge. The favorites are easy to spot. But the contrarian picks are the ones that will get you a win, so here are a few suggestions to ponder.
Michel Bourez The Tahitian is right in the middle of one of his best seasons in years, and while he's never turned in a huge result at J-Bay, he's turned heads several times with six excellent-scoring heats, and we know he's deadly when things are powerful and hollow. With Fanning no longer in the picture and Slater returning potentially a little hobbled, Bourez is one who could easily take advantage, and he continues to slip way under the radar of fantasy shoppers. He's averaging just under 10 percent ownership, which makes him one of the biggest bargains of Tier A. Willian Cardoso might even be more of a bargain, as he's averaging less than 5 percent, but he's converted a few believers of late, so that's likely to climb now that he's in Tier A, too.
Tatiana Weston-Webb Tatiana is still living largely in the shadow of Stephanie Gilmore and Lakey Peterson, the current frontrunners on the women's side (With Peterson in No. 1 and Gilmore just 55 points behind, at No. 2). Being that both Steph and Lakey are renowned pointbreak performers, that's only going to increase as the women head to J-Bay for the first time. It's hard to pick a goofyfooter at J-Bay, but they're more dangerous than ever. Tatiana's bold approach should be a good fit. She'll be the clear dark horse in Tier A, which means she's perfect for anyone looking to make a gutsy pick.
Ace Buchan The Australian battler is always a lethal threat, but his chances increase in waves where aesthetically pleasing attacks are even more appreciated. That's certainly the case at J-Bay. Buchan's backhand is every bit as lethal as anyone on Tour, and his two Semifinal appearances at J-Bay are a testament to that. Despite his successes, however, his low-key persona keeps him out of the high-profile shopping displays. He's been averaging just below 6 percent ownership by Fantasy players, which might amount to an absurd bargain at J-Bay.
Keely Andrew The dynamic naturalfooter from the Sunshine Coast gave us a pretty good indication of her pointbreak chops during the Roxy Pro Gold Coast when it was moved to Kirra this year. She's also surfing with a lot more swagger this season, so we like her chances heading into J-Bay. You can bet she'll be picking up a few tips from fellow Sunshine Coaster Julian Wilson, one of the best there is at J-Bay. And Keely is consistently overlooked in this Tier for the likes of Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons. She's averaging less than 5 percent ownership, which means there's a lot of hidden value here.
Connor O'Leary Last year's rookie of the year is having a bit of a shocker sophomore season, but it's crazy to count him out just yet. He throws some meaty chunks of spray on his backhand, which will likely bode well at J-Bay. It's worth noting the last goofyfooter to take the win here was Occy, who's also from Cronulla. O'Leary will likely be overlooked due to Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson being in Tier C. That's likely to keep his ownership well under his 10 percent average.
Bianca Buitendag While she's not currently a full-time Championship Tour surfer this year, it's fitting for Buitendag to be surfing in this event given that she's the closest thing there is to a local here. She grew up just down the coast at Vic Bay, and you can be she's put her time in on this lineup. She'll be passed over by many for the returning Courtney Conlogue and always-popular Coco Ho, but a lot of insiders will hardly be surprised if the tall South African star catches fire.
Watch the men's and women's Corona Open J-Bay contests live on Facebook and on the WSL on desktop daily between July 2-16 local time.