JEFFREYS BAY, South Africa and theCorona Open J-Bay, Stop No. 6 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT),is underway with men's Rounds 2 and 3 called ON. The elimination rounds will see the competitors take on solid four-to-six foot waves at the World Famous Supertubes.
The men'sCorona Open J-Baykicked off Monday local time in tricky but solid conditions for Round 1 and two heats of Round 2. Although heavy winds ripped through Jeffreys Bay throughout the night, when the sun broke through at 7:00 a.m. clean lines were taking shape. And before the heats even began there was an air of change unfolding: As the call was being made,Joel Parkinsonannounced his retirement after 18 years on the WSL Championship Tour (CT), bringing a bittersweet tone to the day.
Not long after, someone else announced his exit plans, too:Kelly Slatercasually mentioned that he'll be retiring too -- but not until after the 2019 season (wipes brow). But before the news had even sunk in, the action moved to the water.
Igarashi, who is now representing Japan, took out both Kelly Slater and Italo Ferreira during their early morning heat. While he's been struggling on Tour recently, Igarashi has kicked into a new gear this event. The Huntington Beach local looked comfortable in the lineup, despite the windy conditions, putting up a 7.17 on his closing wave. Meanwhile, both Slater, who is back for his first CT event in a year, and Ferreira, who is No. 3 on the rankings, struggled to find their footing.
"I've been getting really frustrated lately and I want to show that in my surfing," said Igarashi. "I keep telling myself to get angry at it. I'm 20 years old and I'm on Tour and it's been so fun but it's my third year now and it's time I do something about it. This was a pretty big heat for me because last year I was in the same situation and Kelly smoked me, so I wanted to try and take him this time. To win over Kelly is always a huge honor."