Gabriel Medina and Carissa Moore won the Corona Open J-Bay today in absolutely flawless conditions. Moore's win meant she is now the Jeep Leader, but it was Medina's performance in the Final that will live long in the rich history of J-Bay.
In the first all-Brazilian and all-goofyfoot Final at the iconic pointbreak the 2018 World Champion yet again came from behind to defeat Italo Ferreira, negotiating an incredible tuberide with less than five minutes to go to score a 9.77 and to seal his first J-Bay win. In a fitting climax to the week his heat total of 19.50 was the highest of the event.
"Something clicked after my heat with Ryan (Callinan) that was really special," said Medina, referring to his dramatic last gasp win in the Quarterfinals. "After that I was like, ‘Lets do this.' Nothing is impossible because I never give up. I knew I could match Italo or Filipe and I just needed to deliver."
Italo Ferreira's approach had been as simple as it was brutal. He defeated the favorite Filipe Toledo in the Semifinal by catching the biggest waves and vertically attacking the lip at every opportunity. His backside hammers and free falls from the sky repeatedly earned him scores in the excellent range and it took something truly special by Medina to take him down. His performance throughout the event however further solidified his World Title credentials.
While Medina's win only elevated him one place to World No. 7 he made significant steps in reeling in the World Title pack. The Brazilian defeated Kolohe Andino in their Semifinal, meaning the American is still yet to claim a CT win, while Medina earned his 13th. However the American's consistency, combined with the absence of John John Florence, means he is now the Jeep Leader.
For Medina though this win could well be the kickstart that his World Title defense desperately needed. The 26-year-old is a notorious slow starter to the season and hadn't made it past the Quarterfinals in any event this year. You sense now though he is building the platform for his annual late season surge up the Jeep Leaderboard.
"That felt so good and this is a such a hard contest to win," he said. "I've had so much fun all week and I really wasn't expecting that win. I can't wait now to head to Tahiti. "
For Carissa Moore, her victory over Lakey Peterson in the Final was as emotional as it was dominant. The 3x World Champion was crying tears of joy in the water after a win that meant so much on so many different levels.
"This is so special. I've come full circle because this was the event last year where I kinda fell apart, so to win means I am ecstatic," said Moore. "It was extra sweet because I haven't had the validation that comes with a win this year. It proves you are doing the right things at the right time."
The victory means she will be wearing the Jeep Leader jersey when she defends her Freshwater Pro title at the Surf Ranch in September. "I haven't been in yellow for a few years, so I'm really excited," she said. "I know there's a lot of work to be done over the year, but I am so fired up right now. It's a great feeling."
For Peterson this was her second successive Final appearance at J-Bay and she has been one of the few women surfers to form a really strong relationship with the wave in a short time. The defeat obviously stung, but the points further continued her upward trajectory through the rankings after a slow start to the year.
Quotable and Notable From Final's Day Of Corona J-Bay Open
- "I've focused on getting that first wave and finishing strong all year. The advice was to surf smooth and strong and not overthink things," said Lakey Peterson after her Semifinal defeat of Malia Manuel. "Surfing against Carissa with waves like this means you have to give it everything you've got. All the work is done if you have reached the Final and so you just have to let it rip." Peterson did let it rip, but couldn't match the Hawaiian's power and flow. She did however move up to World No. 4.
- "Being in the World Title race means there's a lot of extra noise and I feel a lot more people are watching," said the new World No. 1 Kolohe Andino. "I'm just learning how to block out the noise. As for looking for areas to improve I have to work on these legs. You might have seen they look pretty skinny out there. I gotta do more squats."
- Filipe Toledo missed out on a historic three-peat of victories at J-Bay, but remained positive after his Semifinal defeat. "It just wasn't my day, but I'm happy. Semifinal is a keeper result, I'm in a good position for the World Title race and I'm stoked to be a part of this generation of Brazilian surfers that are making history at J-Bay."