Caption: Michael February (ZAF) will bring manoeuvres like this to the Corona Open J-Bay when the event gets underway in Jeffreys Bay next week • Photo: WSL / Cestari

South African Rewarded for Stellar 2017 QS Form

Events:   
Corona Open J-Bay

Status:
Stop No. 6 of 11 on WSL Championship Tour (CT)

Venue:
Supertubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa

Dates:
July 12-23, 2017

South Africa’s Michael February has been awarded the WSL Commissioner’s wildcard into the Corona Open J-Bay, Stop No. 6 of 11 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), which starts its 12-day contest window at the fabled righthand point break of Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay on Wednesday 12 July.

The Capetonian was overjoyed at the news that he would get to compete against the world’s Top 34 ranked surfers at J-Bay after a stellar run of results on the Qualifying Series (QS) this year. February has won three QS1,000 events and also reached the semifinals of the QS10,000 Ballito Pro pres. by Billabong on Saturday to rocket into fourth position on the QS rankings.

“I’m really, really happy about the wildcard for J-Bay. Reaching the semis at Ballito was such a cool achievement for me and when Travis (WSL Deputy-Commissioner Travis Logie) told me about the wildcard, I was really stoked,” said February

The lanky natural footer has had plenty of experience at Supertubes, reaching the finals of JBU Supertrials twice and also competing in the 2015 CT event as a last-minute injury replacement for Matt Banting (AUS) who injured his knee while practicing for the event.

“I was given an injury replacement spot at J-Bay in two years ago, but that was a last minute decision, so this time I have a little more time to prepare for it. The forecasts look like the event will only start a couple of days into the window period and after this last result I’m feeling comfortable and couldn’t be better prepared for going into a CT event,’ February explained.

Although the full draw for the heats in event have not yet been officially published, February is ranked higher than Dale Staples (ZAF), who was awarded the wildcard for winning the 2017 JBU Supertrials in June, and he is likely to lineup aganst compatriot and two-time J-Bay winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Conner Coffin (USA) in Round 1.

“The draw isn’t out yet, but it looks like I’ll be up against Jordy (Smith) in my first heat, which is pretty cool because my last heat in Ballito was also with him. As a wildcard you’re always going to be facing the top seeds, Jordy is one of the best out a J-Bay so it’s going to pretty hard, but I’m really excited about it.

“I’m in a good place right now, enjoying my surfing and enjoying making heats and now I’m getting opportunities like this so I’m really happy. Having the CT between the Ballito and US Open QS10,000 events is great. It’s good to have these events back-to-back.”

Staples is likely to start his challenge pitted against reigning WSL Champion and event top seed John John Florence (HAW), who finished runner-up to Mick Fanning (AUS) at Jeffreys Bay last year, and Ian Gouveia (BRA). The winner of Round 1 heats advance directly to Round 3 while the second and third placed surfers compete man-on-man Round 2 heats where the winner advances and the loser is eliminated.

The Corona Open J-Bay marks the halfway point on the 2017 CT and will resume this season’s thrilling title race, with the top five athletes on the Jeep Leaderboard separated by just 600 points.

Universally regarded as one of the best waves on the planet, Jeffreys Bay boasts a quality righthand point break that delivers unparalleled high-speed consistency, making it the perfect platform to test the world’s best. The event holds a competitive window of July 12 - 23, 2017 and is the only CT stop on the African continent.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL's Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

Corona Open J-Bay Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 2: Owen Wright (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Conner Coffin (USA), TBD
Heat  6: John John Florence (HAW), Ian Gouveia (BRA), TBD
Heat  7: Kolohe Andino (USA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat  8: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat  9: Connor O’Leary (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Mick Fanning (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)

The Corona Open J-Bay is the showcase event at the J-Bay Winterfest, a multi-sport and music festival in Jeffreys Bay from July 12-23. More details at www.jbaywinterfest.com. .

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world's best surfing since 1976, running in excess of 180 global events across the Men's and Women's Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport's rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed world champions in Men’s, Women’s across all divisions within the tour.

Showcasing the world's best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Grant Baker, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world. 

Issued on behalf of:
WSL Africa
Contact:            Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel:                   082 699 4493
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