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Event Preview: J-Bay

How are you travelling at the all-but-halfway point in the season? Fantasy wise, that is. I don't mean that hollow sensation growing deep within your soul that reminds you that you're nearly 40 and still dedicating far too much time to fantasy sports. No? Just me?

Anyway, how is your team looking? Were you riding the John John gravy train until recently? That low price from event 1 was a gift. Now we all have to rethink our whole budget, and it could make for some massive opportunities. With two throw-away events for each player, the fantasy race is just as tight as the world title. J-Bay is your chance to break out and make some big strides towards glory; you could be the Medina of the fantasy world, coming home with a wet sail. Just double-check those metrics and don't forget to save your team.

Conditions

As one of the most famous breaks in the world, there has been plenty written about Jeffreys Bay. For those who want details, Surfline's Mechanics of J-Bay is pretty comprehensive, with swell, wind and bathymetry all analysed. Alternatively, the WSL gives a detailed look at the wave via local legend Shaun Tomson's insights and Mick Fanning's Go Pro footage.

The quick version goes like this: it's a long, right-hand point-break with conditions that require excellent speed management and the ability to read the wave well. Barrels are definitely an option, but they can squeeze on surfers quickly depending on the swell angle and the section of the point that you're surfing. Goofy footers have traditionally struggled for success out here, and long, drawn-out turns at speed, as well as efficiency of movement, seem to be the best-scored options with the judges. Alley-oops don't do too badly either.

For the purposes of our event metrics, we will be running averages in right-hand point breaks that offer waves in 1-8' range, although the typical wave height is 4-6'

 

Forecast

The official forecast is finally in, and while it's still pretty light on info, most models point to the event starting slow, holding in the middle, and finishing with a bang. Here's their summary:

Expect modest SW swells for the first few days of the event window (July 9th-11th). The following weekend (13th-14th) looks slow. The storm pattern over the South Atlantic potentially improves beyond that, leading to better chances for swell into the latter part of the event window.

They will probably start both events over the first 2 days in order to get past the onerous R1/R2 slog, then hold out for the quality stuff later in the waiting period.

Injuries/Wildcards

Surfers OUT :

John John Florence - the two-time world champion, current world #1 and form surfer of 2019 will seek surgery on his ACL after re-tweaking it in the Rio event. It sucks that he's out, but it would be stupid to keep surfing and injuring his knee; we look forward to seeing him at 100% in 2020 (or maybe Pipe, if we're lucky).

Leonardo Fioravanti - still out and recovering from a re-dislocated shoulder. There is no specific return date for Leo, but we'd be a little surprised to see him before the Ranch event.

Mikey Wright - Was in the draw. Then out again. He has been dealing with an ongoing back issue for around 18 months, so we're not sure exactly what his plan is for 2019.

Tyler Wright - Was originally due to return at J-Bay. There's been no update on her recovery, but she's not in the draw.

Coco Ho - according to Coco's claims, this is her first missed event in 11 years.  After tweaking her MCL at the wave pool in Waco, Coco will miss J-Bay.

 

Surfers IN:

Caio Ibelli - will be replacing John John for the remainder of the season, it seems.

Frederico Morais - again takes a replacement spot for Mikey based on his 2018 CT ranking.

Keeley Andrew - continues to replace Tyler, possibly indefinitely.

Sage Erickson - replaces the injured Coco Ho.

Bianca Buitendag - the former tour surfer, current QS #18 and South African native will take her spot as a wildcard.

Highest Ranked RSA surfer on QS Beyrick De Vries - this is speculation at this point, but without a principal surf brand sponsor, the WSL can choose whichever surfer they like. Last year they gave it to Matthew McGillivray. This year it's Adin Masencamp, but things could swing around wildly after the Ballito Pro is won and done. Beyrick's 9th at Ballito pushed him just far enough past Adin. I have absolutely no data on Beyrick, but he seems to be coming into form at the right time after a slow start to the year.

Michael February - MFeb has focused more on dropping killer clips than contests this year, and is languishing fairly low on the QS. He is an incredible surfer IMO, but his results suggest that he doesn't suit the contest scene.

Ethan Ewing? Jorgann Couzinet - will he get John's spot via as the WSL's 3rd replacement rule (based on 2018 QS ranking)? The WSL have had no sense of urgency with this. In fact, John is still available for selection on their fantasy game as I type... NO. No, they did not. The WSL have instead chosen to award the replacement position to QS #2 (Jadson is #1) Jorgann Couzinet. Good luck to him - he rips - but if I was Ewing, I'd be pissed.

Bonus Rant

To put Ewing's situation put it in perspective, he would have ordinarily been the 2nd replacement surfer for the 2019 season, except the WSL had an injury shit-storm brewing from the Caio/Kelly/John dilemma. Caio got shafted, but was offered the top replacement position as a consolation. Now, with John out injured, he's basically guaranteed to surf the entire season. Good for him too; he deserved to have a wildcard spot as his injury was legit.

Caio's elevation came at the expense of Frederico (who was bumped to 2nd replacement) and Ethan (3rd). Frederico will be surfing his 3rd event for the season. Ethan, who should have had two already if not for Caio's promotion, is now missing out altogether.

Think I'm bitching needlessly? A 33rd is worth $10000US. That's for losing two heats straight. Plus sponsor incentives, exposure, etc.

Maybe the WSL have a good reason to promote Jorgann. Maybe they offered it to Ethan and he declined (yeah, right). Either way, until the governing body starts acting with transparency and consistency, they will never have the full respect of their fans.

Heat Draws

We're still waiting on 3 names for the men's draw, but otherwise they look like this:

Also, If you don't want to wade through the confusion of seeding, brackets and tiers, but want to play around with possible match-ups in future rounds, then check out fantasy surf bracket.

 

J-Bay Open Men's Metrics

N.B. All data is sourced from our FSS files, which are from 2013-2019 inclusive. The 2018 MR Pro event was partially completed at Uluwatu in Indonesia.
For 3-man heats where 2nd place progresses to the next round, a 2nd placed finish is deemed as a heat win.
All columns are sortable.

AHS = Average Heat Score
SS Rank = event ranking based on surf-stats metrics
Surfer NameHeatSS Rank2019 Win %2019 AHSEvent PlaceEvent Win %Event AHSRight win %Point win %1-4' win %4-6' win%6-8' win%Right AHSPoint AHS1-4' AHS4-6' AHS6-8' AHS
Owen Wright11953.3311.799.547.0614.2151.8552.1746.9453.2546.5112.9113.5612.9613.211.96
Caio Ibelli41846.6711.13134012.8445.2438.893039.0245.8312.8412.911.211.3913.2
Ezekiel Lau82936.369.02192012.3937.8442.313045.7123.0811.6112.8311.6811.0411.12
Michel Bourez11106011.1110.644.4413.8853.6845.215051.6937.513.2913.5212.3612.3311.29
Michael Rodrigues9236010.731333.3312.0946.4338.4661.5446.882510.611.7212.2410.217.18
Jordy Smith4370.8312.7310.252.3814.3457.6964.2968.1257.8559.1814.4414.9114.1613.4214.39
Conner Coffin81462.511.12135015.2444.4445.2443.3344.623512.1913.311.7311.8311
Julian Wilson7464.7111.045.266.6714.4964.4262.0758.3358.8763.4913.6213.9813.4412.7113.05
Joan Duru1225011.731728.5713.720.6919.0537.529.4143.7512.0213.1812.4911.3613.04
Italo Ferreira2877.7812.141633.3313.3257.5850.946660.2740.6313.2913.5913.9513.0311.81
Gabriel Medina1168.7513.524.66415.056063.2263.3871.2163.7913.514.3913.8914.1414.24
Griffin Colapinto121055.5610.55966.6713.6152.38605055.562012.413.3612.1511.8711.17
Kolohe Andino5137512.2814.641.6712.4847.3739.6846.9753.147.8312.4212.8312.5912.612.1
Kanoa Igarashi3157512.3513.6666666755.5614.2844.943.2451.4349.2837.511.7112.0111.8911.3510.14
Adrian Buchan61738.4610.0413.443.7512.940.9645.9535.7146.3254.1712.2112.9811.7112.7412.84
Adriano de Souza365010.778.25513.2957.858.4247.7659.3244.7413.7514.113.8913.2212.35
Willian Cardoso82046.6710.1313509.9946.6747.0647.3748.395011.2412.1711.8811.37.44
Jeremy Flores10166010.74192513.2541.8936.2150.9438.348.7813.0313.0713.5312.0213.39
Yago Dora5255011.12135010.5933.33254046.15258.9710.2711.8311.137.49
Filipe Toledo6280.9513.85966.6715.1362.8665.6369.1259.2341.8614.1115.2114.8413.3411.74
Frederico Morais1757.1412.085.57015.747.226046.15405012.8114.2912.5811.2913.28
Wade Carmichael121252.9411.56271.4314.35047.375051.35011.7212.6111.6810.988.77
Sebastian Zietz101836.3610.416.238.4613.3241.7732.2635.7139.651.0213.113.0712.2512.0412.52
Jesse Mendes33146.1510.225013.129.1711.1131.2531.8233.3310.711.3310.511.639.52
Kelly Slater10561.1111.611.856.2514.3657.1454.4352.7358.3360.7813.814.2113.7313.6314.81
Michael February63525010.5217.65102521.74509.159.610.379.357.65
Deivid Silva72853.8510.8837.566.6755.5642.86010.511.2910.5912.237.63
Ethan Ewing43325010.52011.1114.2922.2216.6711.8111.8710.6810.310.19
Jack Freestone113042.8610192513.733215.7929.1729.0311.111212.5311.8511.5710.03
Seth Moniz122162.511.1657.1466.6766.67501009.959.9310.6211.2712.77
Jadson Andre727409.672211.1113.8223.8125.5338.8928.32511.312.6312.0212.0210.07
Soli Bailey23436.369.7916.6733.3342.8633.3309.6111.0810.789.63.5
Peterson Crisanto22646.1510.336066.6744.44251009.549.99.949.7614.23
Ricardo Christie93245.4511.125012.4223.081038.4621.4312.510.1311.710.9511.7410.59
Ryan Callinan92464.7112.0425010.6738.8935.7142.8639.3937.511.9212.2312.2511.6712.59

Selection Notes

Pick

Gabriel- he may not have a J-Bay title to his name, but he's consistent out here, and his stats for the relevant conditions are all strong. In fact, he came out as our best pick based on pure metrics - comfortably. Also, you'll want to get him cheap while you can...

Filipe - second-best pick based on data, but probably first if you only took metrics from the past 2 years; not only has he dominated this event, he's redefined how the wave can be surfed. Results aside, Filipe has great averages for all relevant metrics at the event as well and is a must-pick.

Adriano - solid stats at this event (ranked 6th overall) and a great price. Seeding is a slight issue, but the injury withdrawals bump him up a little.

Jordy - other than 2015, when he surfed injured and bombed out early, Jordy has an impressive record at his home event. He's top

Frederico - Cheap, great stats at this event, probably worth a shot. His overall data isn't great though...

Deivid- His numbers aren't great, but momentum's a funny thing, and that massive win over Freestone at Ballito (and the pressure release of not stressing over qualification) makes for a promising event. Maybe.

Drop

John - he's out. Don't pick him.

Michael February - this will be his 4th stint here at J-Bay. He's yet to win a heat. His metrics are rubbish.

Jesse Mendes - poor stats in rights, points, for the season and at this event.

Ricardo Christie - I actually want to put him on my team here as he seems to suit the wave, but his metrics are making me think twice.

 

Sleepers

Here's the thing about data-driven fantasy selections: they almost always guarantee you a safe, bankable score. What they don't earn you is a winning score, a score that takes risks with an against-the odds darkhorse-come-good. For that, you need to back yourself with a solid sleeper pick. Here are my non-data-based suggestions:

Top Seeds

Filipe, Jordy and (especially if they got him cheap) Kelly will be rounding out most teams. Gabriel is my hot take here, but I doubt he'll be super low in the % owned stakes. The true contrarian will take Italo, who actually ranks higher than both Kolohe and Kanoa in this tier.

Mid-Tier

You can go with metrics here and choose Flores, who has OK data without being amazing, or you can back momentum with de Silva. Both are sure to be less popular than Wade, Conner, Julian et al.

Low Seeds

Rich picking here, with Frederico and Adriano offering value that's hard to go past. If you want the contrarian option though, Ace has enough data to support a gamble. He has looked a little off this year though, so be cautious.

Fantasy

Fantasy Surf Sessions is just about to begin it's Phase 3 gameplay upgrades, which will introduce player clubhouses, the ability to view other players' teams, and make some minor interface refinements. It's probably the most exciting set of changes we've made since our initial launch, and we'll keep you updated as to when they go live.

Until then, make sure you log in and set your team so that you're in the running for our event prizes (yep; every single event).

Good luck!

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Balyn McDonald
Editor-in-Chief
Balyn grew up on the east coast of Australia, nourishing his passion for surfing through a diet of empty beach breaks, Taylor Steele VHS cassettes and poor amateur competition results. As one of the head writers/analysts for Surf-Stats, he is as comfortable tearing through spreadsheets as he is 6' left-handers.

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