July 28, 2017

Words by Ronnie Blakey // Images by Brandon Guilmette & Jam Hassan

Filipe Toledo, the green-haired Brazilian, stole the show from everyone and everything at the Corona Open J-Bay.

Nothing could drag the spotlight away from the 21 year-old: Not the other 35 surfers in the draw, not Slater’s broken hoof, not the breaching mako, not the hero boat captain that narrowly avoided capsizing his vessel during the event (while smoking a ciggie), not Jordy Smith with his perfect heat and re-surf controversies… Not even Mick and his great white buddy. That’s how good Toledo was.

It was an honour to call and a privilege to watch. Whether you were standing there on the point or watching it unfold on a screen, you knew you were witnessing something special.

Toledo’s surfing was the perfect blend of progression, traditional lines and blinding speed. Those long workable walls at Supertubes had never experienced anything like it. He hammered through the rounds with his foot to the floor but pushed the needle into the red and beyond with a game-changing fourth round display that featured a ride many are calling one of the best ever ridden in competition.

With a favourable air-wind kicking up for that Round Four heat, Filipe took a wave and let go of two giant alley-oops – moves that individually were worth, at the very least, 8.5 points – before finishing the wave with a series of bonus hits. The judging panel were handcuffed by the scoring scale and could only throw it a 10 but when compared to the other perfect scores in the comp this one was in another realm.

The best supporting role to Filipe’s award winning act was the wave itself. J-Bay has been a fickle location over the years but each morning of the 2017 event window shed light on stacked swell lines and ideal conditions. The surfing during the event was beyond expectation but the other sessions were magic too.

Perched amongst the fynbos, nostrils feasting on the aroma unique to the zone, were two of our friends, Brandon Guilmette and Jam Hassan. Here’s what they watched unfold through the viewfinder:

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