Wildcard place for February

Capetonian excited to surf with world’s best in J-Bay contest

South Africa’s Michael February has been awarded the World Surf League (WSL) commissioner’s wildcard into the Corona Open J-Bay starting tomorrow. The event is the sixth of 11 on the WSL Championship Tour (CT).

Michael February in action during the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong at the weekend.
Picture: Kelly Cestari

It starts its 12-day contest window at the fabled right-hand point break of Supertubes in Jeffreys Bay.

The Capetonian was overjoyed at the news he would get to compete against the world’s top 34 ranked surfers at Jeffreys Bay after a stellar run of results in the Qualifying Series (QS) this year.

February has won three QS1 000 events and also reached the semifinals of the QS10 000 Ballito Pro presented 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,” he said.

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 Australian Matt Banting.

“I was given an injury replacement spot at J-Bay two years ago, but that was a last-minute decision, so this time I have a little more time to prepare for it,” February said.

“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.”

Although the full draw for the heats in event has not yet been officially published, February is ranked higher than Dale Staples (SA), who was awarded the wildcard for winning the7 JBU Supertrials last month, and he is likely to line up against compatriot and two-time J-Bay winner Jordy Smith (SA) and Conner Coffin (US) in round one.

“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 at 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,” he said.

The round one match-ups are:

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 (SA), Conner Coffin (US), TBD Heat 6: John John Florence (Haw), Ian Gouveia (Bra), TBD Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (US), Italo Ferreira (Bra), Leonardo Fioravanti (Ita) Heat 8: Julian Wilson (Aus), Kelly Slater (US), Kanoa Igarashi (US) 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).

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