A lot of things have changed since we last left the CT tour in Rio. There’s no change atop the leaderboard for the men, but the world no. 1 John John Florence has withdrawn from the event and likely the entirety of the 2019 tour due to a torn ACL in his right knee. While this won’t hand the yellow leader jersey over just yet, (could we see an event without the yellow jersey at all? ), it does open up the world title race on the men’s side for a whole host of other surfers. It’s the ratings equivalent of a downhill ski race that the runaway leader falls off the mountain halfway down the hill. Wide open is an understatement.
WILDCARDS / INJURIES / INJURY REPLACEMENTS: (Updated July 6, 2019) John John Florence, Mikey Wright, and Leo Fioravanti have all withdrawn from the event. Florence and Fioravanti are both done for several events and possibly for the remainder of 2019. They have been replaced in the draw by Caio Ibelli, Frederico Morais. One more injury replacement has yet to be named. Former Ct surfer Michael February has been given a wildcard into the main event.
So who will be atop the dog pile when the dust settles after J-Bay? Two-time defending event champion Filipe Toledo is a solid pick to win at this event after dominating the Rio final. So is red-hot Kolohe Andino who sits at no. 2 in the ratings despite never having won a CT event… yet. And don’t forget that Gabriel Medina usually saves his best for the second half of the season. 11-time world champion Kelly Slater is in perfect position to qualify for the 2020 Olympics if he keeps his hot streak going, so he has plenty of motivation as well to end his career on a high note.
Read more here: Surfer Mag