World #1 Carissa Moore Vanquished By Front Pad Toting Wildcard, Lucky Few Get Supertubed - Stab Mag
Photo by Damien Poullenot/WSL

World #1 Carissa Moore Vanquished By Front Pad Toting Wildcard, Lucky Few Get Supertubed

‘Go hard or go home, innit’ 

features // Mar 13, 2023
Words by Billy Wilson
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Strider Wasilewski provided perhaps the best summary of conditions at Supertubos today. ‘It’s fun out there,’ said the surprise hero of How Surfers Get Paid from the terrace of the contest tent, where he’d ventured in his roving reporter’s role. ‘I feel like if you turned up at the beach with that mindset of not having surfed in a month, you’d be psyching.’

There are two main types of ‘Striderism’, trademark patterns of speech for which the ever-youthful lord of tubeside commentary is known. In the more familiar sort, syntax goes out the window, while any chance of an unmixed metaphor gets blown out the bathwater, through the roof, and into the frying pan.

The other sort, arguably even more enjoyable, is the verbal own goal. The remark quoted at the top is a good example, but the classic of the genre remains his reaction to Adriano de Souza’s world title, in 2015. ‘Well,’ he said as the scores dropped and the shock was confirmed. ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game.’ The game’s governing body was probably not overly stoked on that one.

Strider certainly is in the running for the WSL Commentator with most tube time. Seen here, on the clock, in the tube.
Photo by WSL/Kirstin


  • Wildcard Yolanda Hopkins beats World #1 Carissa Moore – ‘Go hard or go home, innit’ 
  • Molly Picklum falls off jetski, wins heat, will don yellow at Bells
  • Caity Simmers thwarts Caroline Marks – ‘Hopefully we get Supertubed tomorrow’
  • Jackson Baker wears short-arm (power move) against Griff, loses
  • Medina turns a heat around in 5-minutes (again), through to the round of 16

Tour surfers typically surf a few times a month, so you’d guess they were less than enthused at today’s offering. The surf wasn’t great but it wasn’t outright terrible: overhead, lumpy from the onshores but just about good enough to get the women’s round of 16 completed, along with the remaining two heats of the men’s round of 32. Those who stuck with it were perhaps pleasantly surprised, rewarded with some decent surfing, the odd shenanigan, and enough rankings intrigue to maintain forward momentum.

Molly Picklum is now guaranteed sole possession of the yellow jersey come Bells. She continues to look deadly, and snaffled one of just two tubes ridden this morning. She also fell off the ski in entertaining fashion, which evidently didn’t faze her. When she realised she was falling she apparently told the driver to step on it – on the basis that she might as well fall off a few yards closer to the lineup. Clearly she has the gumption to go with the talent.

Molly Picklum looks unstoppable this year. Also seen here, on the clock, in the tube. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Picklum had previously been tied at the top of the rankings with Carissa, who couldn’t find the waves she was looking for in her heat against local wildcard Yolanda Hopkins. A bit like John John yesterday, she never got a section she could properly ‘tee-off on’. That’s a phrase that seems to be gaining currency. I don’t mind it, to be honest. She was hacking away in the rough all heat.

Moore’s problem reckoned Yolanda in her post-heat interview, was that she was too busy looking for the good waves. Yolanda, on the other hand, was looking for the shit ones. It was a tactic that paid off. Yolanda claims that the worse the surf gets, the better she surfs. (You can see her going far on the women’s tour.)

Each of her scoring waves today came down to a single big backhand turn on a heavy end-section. Riss’s layback on her final wave was good but somewhat manufactured, on a relatively slopey and benign section. It didn’t get close to the score.

Yolanda’s accent is a bit of a conundrum. I know nothing of her backstory except that she’s from Portugal, but I thought I detected notes of Dutch, maybe South African. When she outlined her heat strategy she went full inner-city London: ‘Go big or go home, innit.’

Congratulations in order for the wildcard you’d probably have least slated to beat Carissa. Even Mikey C didn’t pick it.
Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

But that was not the morning’s best post-heat interview, nor the morning’s best heat.

I don’t consider myself a Caroline Marks fan – a Marksist, if you will. I don’t hate the solid but repetitive backhand, it just doesn’t really do it for me.

But now I see I’ve been blind to the charms of her forehand repertoire. Her best wave, a 7.33, showcased a more radical streak, a fusion of power and precision. Highly satisfying stuff, and it got her back in the heat.

Sometimes, however, you go big and go home. On this occasion it was because her opponent, Caitlin Simmers, went bigger still, ultimately proving the more radical strategist. She scored a 7 early-doors on her first wave, but when she struggled to back it up, and when Marks swung the momentum in her favour with two quick scores, questions were raised in the booth. Resuming a discussion begun on Day 1, Evans wondered if perhaps she shouldn’t be playing things a little safer. Simmer down, Simmers, he appeared to be suggesting.

Dare us to mention ‘Toasted’ Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

‘Conservativeness isn’t something I condone,’ was the Condor’s response a few days ago, a lovely bit of commentary. Mel was vindicated then, as Simmers fought her way out of Round 2, and he was vindicated again today. Two fierce backhand snaps promptly settled the issue.

Afterwards, AJ inquired how she maintained her composure out there, after going behind like that. Simmer’s answer was an endearing reminder that she’s just seventeen: ‘I just tell myself that… it sounds kind of stupid… I just tell myself that I can do it.’ It did not sound stupid. Asked what she was hoping for tomorrow, she didn’t miss a beat: ‘I hope we get Supertubed.’ A glorious moment.

‘How good is Caitlin Simmers!’ said Evans, perhaps slightly humbled. The question was rhetorical but worth pondering. It seems possible that, to use the Australian vernacular, she’s that fucking good.

Stab has been accused by industry insiders of heaping too much praise on Caity’s surfing, creating a pressure that will be too difficult to live up to. Caity’s backhand was extraordinary today. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

Renato Hickel called a halt to proceedings towards the end of the morning. We would reconvene in the afternoon. (Disappointingly, today’s announcement was not followed immediately by a ten.)

A few earlier heats merit a brief mention. I was backing Bonvalot, who has a pleasing style (if occasionally slightly jittery off the bottom) and seems capable in hollow surf. She was also surfing with 6 stitches in her head, having copped a fin to the nog a few days ago at Baleal, on the other side of the headland. Hence the hood she wore in Round 1. Today the hood was gone, but reigning champion Weston-Webb was on the better waves, and looked to be surfing several knots faster than her, too.

I was also backing Bryan, if only in the hope she would vindicate my Dog Marsh call yesterday. She lost to Courtney Conlogue, whose sinewy, sprinter’s legs remained firm amid an avalanche of whitewater. Conlogue also rode the morning’s only other tube, which seemed to materialise around her out of nowhere.

Fitzgibbons is another surfer who, like an ageing media mogul, continues to outlive predictions of her demise.

Steph, probably trying to figure out where the best possibility of a right rip-bowl forming is. Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League

But we should talk about Steph, whom Sally knocked out. Forced to go left, her surfing was tentative, her timing way off. I’m not judging – the last time I willingly went backhand was in 2013, and I regretted it immediately. Perhaps the point is that, in the course of her 15-year-plus career, she’s been forced to go left so rarely, in waves big or small.

Uncharacteristically, I recently listened to one of the WSL’s Lineup podcasts, and heard Gilmore make a similar point herself. What she always cared about most was winning. Why ‘go charge some big left and risk getting injured’ if her next contest was at a performance right? It’s a fair question. And she sounded up for the challenge, now that a wave like Teahupo’o is a stop on the women’s tour. I hope she gets the chance. And I hope she has someone like Yolanda Hopkins in her corner. Go big or go home, innit.

The waves looked a little better in the afternoon. Moniz vs. Medina was a frustrating affair until Medina, with not long to go, clicked into that secret extra gear only he possesses. An underscored air-reverse on a left – the recovery layback, though swift and mighty impressive, offended the judges’ sensibilities – was followed by a long right. (He caught that one while still waiting for a lift on the ski.)

Medina is used to starting the season slow. Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League

With two fresh scores on his scorecard, he went and sat so close to the Trilogy 2 star, that they were surely playing footsie. A minute later he caught a throwaway right, then another left, on which he pulled a better air-reverse, earning his best score of the heat. Then he proned in. All this happened in the space of about five minutes.

There was nothing spectacular in there, but it was classic Medina all the same. At his best – that way he flits around the line-up, linking rides better than Kai Lenny on a hydrofoil, kicking out of one and stroking straight into the next – he looks like he’s doing some king of high-performance interpretive dance routine, choreographed in advance with the full cooperation of swell and sand.

Finally, Baker vs. Griff. Baker’s face and general demeanour fills me with happiness, I can’t explain it. In this event he’s been riding a bright-pink surfboard for International Women’s Day, a neat touch. Today he was also wearing a short-arm suit. It is far too cold for a short-arm suit, and this was definitely a power play. For about half the heat it seemed like it was working. Then Griffin remembered his training and regained control of his mental faculties. His class ultimately told, and he will meet Medina in the round of 16, which seems far too soon.

Talk tomorrow, most likely. Hopefully, we’ll all get Supertubed.

Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League


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