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Preview: J-Bay Pro 2018

Event Location Photo

Preview: J-Bay Pro 2018

Last updated June 21, 2018 by Balyn McDonald

For this year’s J-Bay event, we’re trying a new format of delivery. The hope is to make your contest preparations a little more streamlined by putting everything in one place. Sure, it means that the full preview will be have to be completed in stages as the information becomes available, but it also means that you won’t have to jump between tabs to get what you need. We think it will be better for fantasy players, but please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Event and Forecast

As one of the most famous surf breaks in the world, there has been plenty written about the J-Bay we’ve come to know and love. For those who want details, Surfline’s Mechanics of J-Bay are 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 TL;DR 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 seem to be the best-scored options with the judges. Alley-oops don’t do too badly either.

It’s worth noting that J-Bay will be the first event that requires fans to watch the event via the exclusive Facebook broadcasting deal. Surf fans will need a FB account in order to watch the J-Bay event live.

The official forecast is yet to drop, but we’ll keep an eye on things and update when we can.

The official forecast is now up, and it looks promising. The overview reads thus:

The first several days of the event waiting period, and possibly beyond, look active with good potential for overlapping SW swells. At this point it looks like these swells will range from mid size to potentially solid, with the majority of the days also experiencing favorable wind.

It’s quite likely that we could see the contest start on the opening day of the waiting period, and – with consistently favourable wind and swell conditions predicted – continue to run in quality surf for the first few days.



Surfers OUT:

John John Florence –  It’s almost like John wanted to try and beat Kelly in a new field of endeavour: injury speculation. Did he exaggerate the extent of his knee injury in order to guarantee a break from his annus horribilis and seek a special wildcard into 2019? Who knows? He walked up the beach fine after hurting it. John was definite about missing Uluwatu, and now we’ve just see that he’s out for J-Bay…

Kelly Slater – Yep, he’s out again (technically ‘in doubt’ due to Turf Toe, according to Kelly). There are a few ways to take Slater’s absence(s) from the 2018 tour, but we like to think his reluctance to return early indicates a genuine desire to come back and compete at 100%, rather than a wavering confusion about his retirement plans. Either way, we’re unlikely to see him at J-Bay. Actually, we doubt he’ll compete again until the wave pool event, unless Tahiti has an amazing forecast (we know how quickly Kelly heals when there’s a big swell on offer).

Caio Ibelli – Given that his last Instagram post included the (translated) quote ‘I’m feeling much better though, counting the last few months to get back to surfing’, we’re guessing that this is code for the fact that we won’t see him in South Africa (added to the fact that he’s not in the draw).

Paige Hareb – Rib injuries are a bitch. We’re not sure how long Paige will be out, but her failed impersonation of Mason Ho will likely cost her a couple of months. It’s sucks for her extra hard, given her poor ranking and the fact that Courtney has all but sewn up the wildcard spot for next year.


Surfers IN:

Matthew McGillivray – with the last wildcard spot reserved for the highest ranked South African QS surfer the Ballito event, there is some rudimentary maths that can be used to calculate the likely surfer. Matt McGillivray was ranked #10 on the QS going into the J-Bay event and, with a modest R3 finish, the J-Bay local looks unlikely to be overtaken on the rankings by any other ZAF contenders. Matt could be a decent sleeper, but he’ll have to live up to every ounce of his undeniable potential if he’s to overcome his low seeding and the tour elite.

Kelly SlaterWe were wrong! Our cynicism needs to be checked, it seems, as Kelly is attempting to do a Mick by making J-Bay the centrepiece of his comeback narrative. Never mind that Kelly has surfed macking Fiji, two pool events (OK, he only opened proceedings at the Future Classic) and a few rounds at Pipeline, THIS is apparently his comeback event. Not that we’re complaining; we’re just as compelled as the next fan hoping to see how his time away from tour translates into contest success. Mind you, the cynic in me did notice that the address for that linked WSL article only states that Kelly ‘plans’ to surf the event, not that he will; I better get that checked…

Mikey Wright – Some say that Mikey is getting an unfair advantage from the WSL via his constant commissioner wildcard spots, but I’m not one for conspiracy theories. Mikey was leading the QS when he got his place at the QuikPro GC, so there’s no argument there. He missed Bells, so there’s that. He got a spot at Margaret River – an Australian event – based on his QS and GC success. From there, he’s been justifying his selections consistently, enjoying enough success to see him in the top 10 despite having one less event than his peers. Haters gonna hate. Maybe they should just sit back and enjoy the show.

Miggy Pupo – Miguel is next on the replacement list based on 2017 results. He’s yet to consolidate his chances with a big result, but he’s always a chance at something massive. In saying that, J-Bay is one of his worst events historically.

Wiggolly Dantas – like Pupo, Wiggs is here based on his 2017 rankings. He’s been on the DL lately, but he’s always capable of an upset or two. He hasn’t finished above 9th at this event though.

Macy Callaghan – Macy will be surfing in her 4th event for 2018, this time replacing Paige. Much like Miggy, Macy is yet to convert on her opportunities.

Bianca Buitendag – the tall, goofy-footed South African gets a local wildcard place and another shot at the tour after her 13th at snapper and Team World win at the pool.


R1 Heat Draws

It’s worth noting that this could change somewhat, with Kelly still uncertain and a wildcard yet to be added (though it’s likely to be Matt McGillivray):


This is locked and set, barring any last-minute injuries:



Who’s got this place wired? Who’s fighting history here? Check our table of results since 2010:

J-Bay History

* during 48-man format
^ no winner due to shark incident

During 2012-13 seasons, the J-Bay event was relegated to the WQS
Frederico Morais22.00
Mick Fanning9212153.33
Julian Wilson5132335.20
Gabriel Medina55534.50
Jordy Smith111325558.33
Filipe Toledo25135111.00
Joan Duru99.00
Adriano de Souza513559138.33
Josh Kerr591332511.00
Owen Wright91331399.40
Ace Buchan93133132511.00
Matt Wilkinson9133131359.33
Kelly Slater1713351310.20
Joel Parkinson333213131312.83
Michel Bourez1791399911.00
Wiggolly Dantas992514.33
Conner Coffin25917.00
Kolohe Andino913132515.00
Italo Ferreira13131313.00
Connor O'Leary1313.00
Ezekiel Lau1313.00
Kanoa Igarashi132519.00
Miguel Pupo1325132519.00
Sebastian Zietz1325132519.00
Jeremy Flores331325251321.80



All of our our ‘career’ average heat score and win % statistics are taken from 2013-2018 WSL contest seasons. They do not reflect the entire careers of surfers who have been on tour longer than that.

A successful fantasy player never relies on past results or projections alone; we suggest that you check the forecast, sort through the particular conditions data that you deem most relevant and pick out a team that you feel balances the metrics as well as your gut.

2018 J-Bay Metrics

Win % - percentage of heat wins from 2013-2018
AHS - average heat score across all heats 2013-2018
2018 win% - percentage of heats won in current season
2018 AHS - average heat score for current season
EAHS - AHS across all heats for this event 2013-2018
E.Heats - number of heats surfed at this event 2013-2018
1-4' - average heat score in wave heights 1-4' (2013-2018)
4-6' - average heat score in wave heights 4-6' (2013-2018)
6-8' - average heat score in wave heights 6-8' (2013-2018)
Rights - average heat score in right-hander specific breaks (2013-2018)
Points - average heat score in point breaks (2013-2018)
Proj AHS - projected AHS based on the data presented in this table
Proj Score - projected total of all heats scored within this contest based on heat wins
SurferWin %AHS2018 win%2018 AHSEAHSE.Heats1-4'4-6'6-8'RightsPointsProj AHSProj Score
Gabriel Medina66.2613.5268.4211.7615.082113.9114.1414.213.6214.3912.9899.97
Kelly Slater59.614.02151313.9313.8515.1114.2914.6313.31102.5
Jordy Smith58.9613.0662.513.1614.681514.5913.6514.3514.5514.9713.2287.27
Julian Wilson58.1212.5280.9511.8214.912213.8912.813.1713.6814.0412.6483.45
Filipe Toledo54.5513.1172.7312.614.621714.8813.4111.5914.2115.2512.9568
Joel Parkinson54.512.9444.4411.7414.951513.8613.5212.9814.5314.5712.9367.89
Italo Ferreira54.2612.1971.4312.7714.03714.2613.2212.2213.7913.9212.4765.49
Adriano de Souza55.6512.9942.8611.4513.241614.0213.2212.4113.8614.1812.364.56
Griffin Colapinto6012.036012.03014.1312.8910.9612.7113.2511.445.59
Owen Wright50.3313.1956.2510.9914.311413.5613.5812.0313.0713.712.2949.18
Michel Bourez49.5211.6963.1611.8613.881512.8512.4211.1513.4713.7712.0148.03
Mikey Wright56.5212.3861.1111.95012.1411.9913.0212.4312.6711.1744.67
Frederico Morais43.0812.2437.510.1516.64713.2111.2613.2812.7514.3812.6436.97
Willian Cardoso57.6911.9766.6710.96013.0712.397.5311.9813.2810.6431.13
Jeremy Flores43.0212.7453.8512.0213.08613.9212.3213.613.1513.3612.0735.29
Kolohe Andino47.4712.376010.6212.041012.8312.7711.7912.3312.8911.333.06
Adrian Buchan44.9712.3252.9410.8312.781311.9613.112.8612.4313.111.5733.85
Matt Wilkinson43.4811.02259.5213.911712.7711.5111.312.4713.3411.533.64
Sebastian Zietz40.5311.9530.779.5713.03912.4412.2412.4612.913.0311.5132.8
Conner Coffin36.6710.543.759.2515.55612.0711.5810.9312.1313.311.6833.29
Wiggolly Dantas33.3311.29010.5614.391213.1712.5711.1913.7414.0612.1234.54
Kanoa Igarashi40.2310.4130.7710.3412.96412.4910.859.8310.9211.7310.6230.28
Connor O'Leary4011.5259.8412.19312.2611.112.3210.8611.2210.630.2
Michael Rodrigues47.3710.3547.3710.35011.5910.928.8610.3811.729.6227.43
Ezekiel Lau34.0411.3447.069.9412.43312.6411.3211.5911.9212.9511.0720.47
Joan Duru28.5712.3316.6711.2113.78513.5411.9412.9712.1613.611.9122.03
Miguel Pupo35.2210.8916.678.3111.511012.711.3210.711.8613.0210.6319.67
Wade Carmichael38.19.947.0610.07011.7910.968.7710.9911.979.7418.02
Ian Gouveia30.9510.9116.678.9713.54210.911.3311.3310.7810.9410.5819.56
Keanu Asing29.4910.27259.2312.36611.6110.8210.0610.7111.9510.3419.13
Yago Dora36.3611.0630.779.53012.311.518.569.1910.329.216.55
Patrick Gudauskas30.310.5830.778.68012.110.619.910.5912.639.8317.7
Jesse Mendes27.7811.4128.5711.52011.54129.6911.2411.3610.1418.24
Jesse Mendes27.7811.4128.5711.52011.54129.6911.2411.3610.1418.24
Tomas Hermes29.179.9637.59.1910.72210.9710.548.229.8510.759.416.92
Michael February18.758.9258.2510.85410.248.947.659.059.548.7515.74


Selection Notes

Conditions Picks

Kelly Slater

Yep. That old guy who hasn’t been doing events. Kelly leads the AHS stats in 6-8′ waves, is 2nd in 4-6′, 3rd in both Rights and Points, and sits 4th in heat averages at this event over the past 5 years. Kelly owns the most J-Bay titles on tour (4), and, regardless of age and foot issues, still reads waves better than almost anyone on tour.

Jordy Smith

The South African great white hope is nipping at Kelly’s heels as the new King of J-Bay. He has 2 titles here and, despite a poor 2015 when he surfed injured, averages amongst the best on tour for his results history out here. Jordy has the best AHS for Rights, and ranks 2nd-best in both Points and 6-8′ waves.

Filipe Toledo

I’ll admit that part of Filipe’s recommendation here stems from the fact that his 2017 performance is still burnt into my mind. But this is stats, dammit, and Filipe has the numbers to back his inclusion here: he has the best stats in Points ands 1-4′ conditions (although that size seems unlikely with the forecast), he’s ranked 4th in Rights and 6th in 4-6′ waves.

Julian Wilson

It’s easy to get caught up in AHS data when looking for suitable conditions surfers, but Julian stands up for another reason; he consistently does well in this event. He sits 6th overall for his event AHS data, but that’s across 22 heats, which is 5 more than Filipe, 7 more than Jordy and 9 more than Kelly. How does he get so many heats out here? By winning. Julian has had a (sharky) final, two semis and a quarters finish in his 5 events our here.

Gabriel Medina

Gabe sits just underneath all of the above surfers in most categories, but he’s consistent in his top-5 presence. Medina has had three quarters and one semi-final finish in his 4 J-Bay events, sitting just above Julian despite not making a final. He has the top AHS in 4-6′ waves, sits 3rd in both 6-8′ and EAHS data, and ranks 5th on Points. Besides, I was hardly going to neglect the goofies completely.


Conditions Warnings

Michael February

You’d think that Freestyle would be using his local knowledge to his advantage out here, but the stats say that’s unlikely. Mikey has the 2nd lowest AHS for the event (across 4 heats) and has never won a heat out here. He has the worst AHS metrics for Rights, Points, 1-4′ and 4-6′ waves. The only wave conditions area in which he isn’t worst is 6-8′ waves, where he ranks 2nd-last.

Tomas Hermes

While MFeb has never won a heat at J-Bay, he has beaten one surfer: Tomas Hermes. Michael finished 2nd to Fanning in R1, H5 of the 2015 event, beating Tomas into 3rd place. Both Hermes and February lost in R2, leaving Tomas winless in his only appearance at the event. Tomas’ AHS stats are similarly discouraging, with bottom-three rankings across all categories, including the worst AHS for the event across his two heats surfed.

Miguel Pupo

Miggy has surfed this event 4 times and won only 20% of his heats in that time. His AHS at this contest is 3rd-worst overall.

Jeremy Flores

With 2 heat wins across 5 contests here, Jeremy has the worst average placing here of all surfers. His AHS data isn’t quite so damning, as he often loses with a high heat total, but J-Bay is definitely a bit of a hoodoo spot for Jeremy.


Form Picks

Willian Cardoso

I was going to push Willian as a surfer with momentum before he won the Uluwatu CT event as he is one of the few surfers without a 25th place result this season. Willian is certainly surprising his critics with both his consistency and ability this season.

Julian Wilson

A win, a 2nd and a 3rd in 5 events is pretty solid. The thing is, they’ve been spaced between 13ths. Is Julian due for another R3 exit, or do such ridiculous patterns make this whole statistics thing look even more hokum? You decide (it’s the latter).

Mikey Wright

Say what you like about whether he should be getting the commissioner wildcard spots, he sure as hell knows how to use them. Mikey sits at 7th in the world at the moment after just 4 events, and if he makes another 3rd-place or better here in J-Bay, he could possibly secure his qualification for 2019 without needing to surf another event. Take that, keyboard warriors.

Wade Carmichael / Griffin Colapinto

If Ballito serves as the warm-up event for J-Bay, then these two are smiling. They will face one-another in the quarters tomorrow (as I type) with one guaranteed a juicy semi-final-or-better result in the QS10000 event. Maybe pick the one that wins the heat? (for the record, Mikey W, Jesse M, Yago D and Jeremy F were the next-best tour surfers at Ballito this year, with R5 losses today).


Form Warnings

Pat Gudauskas

Pat got us all cheering with his 3rd at Bells, but it’s been his lone success in an otherwise poor season. Pat now has 4 x 25ths this season, and a season AHS of just 8.68.

Ian Gouveia

Ian has a season AHS of 8.97, a win percentage of 16.67 and a ranking of 33rd in the world.

Ace Buchan

After a blazing start at Snapper (and Kirra), many were wondering if Ace would be a contender this season (just kidding, they didn’t really). Since then, he’s produced lukewarm form with his 9ths and 13ths. His 25th at Margies/Ulu now sees him slide out of the top 10.

Sebastian Zietz

What’s going on with Seabass this year? The tour’s most likeable surfer is currently outside the qualification bubble (24th) and struggling for form. If J-Bay is barrelling, he could take the whole damn thing out. The thing is, his inconsistency makes it unlikely he’ll put it all together for a whole contest. Hopefully I’m wrong.


Sleeper Picks

If you can pick a Willian Cardoso when everyone else is picking a John John, then you’re either a fool or a genius.

Succeeding where others fail is the key to beating the numbers in fantasy. In a season where two different rookies have made finals (one winning) and a wildcard is in the top 10, who’s to say that a well-placed dark-horse isn’t just the smartest selection you can make? Here’s our picks for those contrary dark-horses:

Top Tier

Mikey Wright is the obvious pick for FS, given he’s capped at $1.5M, but he’s hardly a sleeper. With Willian, Filipe, Jordy and even Italo vying for the alpha selections on most teams, we’re suggesting Medina as the outside sleeper for this event.

Mid Tier

Adriano’s the sensible pick here, so he’s out. We’re going to throw caution to the wind and give Seabass a crack at redemption.

Low Tier

Everyone will have Kelly. Don’t be everyone. Joan Duru is having a Jeremy Flores season, i.e. high heat scores with few wins to show for it. A 9th last year, plus some hope of changing fortune, is enough to convince me that Joan deserves a sleeper spot here in J-Bay.



There’s always a few surfers who represent some kind of anomaly within our selection analyses. Maybe there are factors that a spreadsheet can’t detect, or maybe their recent form simply contradicts their previous averages.


Are you kidding? No tour events this season, more uncertainty than John John’s paternal heritage and a bung foot that’s had more Instagram likes than my entire posting catalogue. Who knows what Kelly will do?

Matt McGillivray

Matt surfs well. Especially here at Jefferey’s. For young competitors, that’s often not enough, but this is 2018…


It’s easier to surpass expectations when they’re low. It will be interesting to see how he wears his top-5 ranking at this event.


Has the potential to stink things up a little when he’s wearing the yellow.


Parko goes together with pumping J-Bay like fantasy writing and forced similes. That said, he’s looking so bad this season.


Fantasy Surf Sessions

I know we’ve been quiet for a long time, but we’re pushing hard for an in-house trial of our game model and stats for this event. If things go ahead, we’ll then aim to tweak bugs and make changes for a user-invite beta test for Tahiti in August. Exciting times!

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