Filipe Toledo maintained his Brazilian winning form to post both the highest single wave and heat total of day one at the Corona Open J-Bay. The World No. 3 nailed a 9.10 ride in his heat total of 17.60 and started his quest for a historic J-Bay three-peat in the strongest way possible.
"That was the performance I had in my mind for the Seeding Round," Toledo said afterwards. "To get that momentum and confidence is really important and only adds motivation."
Toledo has etched his name into J-Bay folklore with his winning performances in 2017 and 2018. Last year he wasn't just surfing better than anyone else in the field, he had a claim to be surfing better than anyone, ever. At the location he calls his favorite stop on Tour, there were times throughout the day that he looked to be surfing at twice the speed of his other competitors.
Inevitably his performance led to talk of his World Title chances. With World No. 1 John John Florence possibly out of contention for the rest of the year with a knee injury, the race has been thrown wide open. And while contenders Kolohe Andino, Jordy Smith, Kanoa Igarashi and Italo Ferreira also posted impressive heat wins today, none did so with the confidence or flair of Toledo.
"Although I feel great, I'm not putting pressure on myself this year," Toledo said. "In those first four events I was just putting so much pressure on and there was so many things I was forgetting to enjoy and to be happy and grateful for. I'm doing that now and it's working."
Toledo traveled straight from Brazil to spend a week in South Africa with his family before the event kicked off. He swapped the high-octane and super-charged environment of the Oi Rio Pro for the more laid back country charm of Jeffreys Bay. He admitted to surfing sparingly during the last week even on the days that many CT surfers called 'the best waves they've ever had a J-Bay'.
"That was my week to relax and have a mini vacation," the 24-year-old explained. "I wanted to rest, relax and recharge all my batteries after Brazil and save all my energy for the heats here."
Notables and Quotables From Day 1 Of Corona Open J-Bay
Steph Gilmore eased through the Seeding Round in a solid start to the defense of her Corona Open J-Bay title. Gilmore defeated Johanne Defay and Macy Callaghan to post the highest heat total of the women's Round using some trusted equipment. "I call this board the cash cow. It keeps making me money and I've won a bunch of events on it," the 7x World Champion said. "I've been refining my other boards, but I just jumped on this for a freesurf this morning and it is just so comfortable and does exactly what I want it to do. So why not ride it over and over again?
- Kanoa Igarashi, a Finalist here last year, found the zone early with a 7.33 ride that helped defeat Adriano de Souza and Jesse Mendes. "It was one of those waves where everything clicked and you are not thinking about scores or what you are doing and you are just surfing at a 100%," said Igarashi. "From the first turn I knew I couldn't fall off and when you are in that zone you have to make the most of it."
- After a slow start to his heat with Deivid Silva and Jadson Andre, Julian Wilson posted an 8.40 single wave score, the day's second highest, and attributed his heat winning performance to his love of J-Bay. "I can't stop smiling whenever I'm here," Wilson said. "The people are beautiful and the place is amazing. This morning I watched a flock of flamingos fly past one of the best sunrises I've seen all year. There's so much to enjoy and hopefully I can turn that into a really big result because I want that win."
Watch the Corona Open J-Bay live July 9-22 on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook.