How Do John Florence And Gabe Medina Both Lose At Full-Throttle Sunset? - Stab Mag

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Griff, making Sunset look like Backdoor. Photo by Tony Heff

How Do John Florence And Gabe Medina Both Lose At Full-Throttle Sunset?

One goof remains after a day of upsets and magnificent cones.

features // Feb 17, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Sunset Beach resembled Honolua Bay’s clumsy big brother this morning, with heavy, breathing cones spinning through nearly every heat.

Within moments of the morning buzzer, Jack Robinson weaved his way through a double cylinder, Sammy Pupo stumbled into an interference, and Ian Gentil nearly forgot he was supposed to be surfing his heat.

The wonderful world of professional surfing.

As Nat Young said, “nobody expected it to be this big today,” so standup tubes and meaty sections were a pleasant surprise.

Between the two CT events of 2023, today was the highest scored day yet, with 8 heat totals above 15pts. At Pipe, there were only two 15pt heats the entire event.

Praise be Paumalū.


  • Terrific day of competitive lip-ducking and section slapping, everyone gets decisively coned
  • Despite elimination, Gabriel Medina continues to set standard of backside North Shore surfing with hands free standup baz
  • Jack Robinson gives Sunset the ol’ North Point treatment
  • John John Florence looks great and then…not so great
  • Kolohe Andino demolishes his surfboard in 17th-place meltdown
  • Italo Ferreira re-enacts 2018 Box wave
  • Nobody wants to surf against Joao Chianca
Who would’ve thought we’d see more barrels in one day Sunset than the majority of the Pipe event? Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League


Peak performance: Jack Robinson, Gabriel Medina, Griffin Colapinto, Joao Chianca, Caio Ibelli, Matty McGillivary

Hit replay: Mens R32: H1, H7, H14, H16 R16: H4, H7, H8

Monster maneuvers:

  • Robbo’s double tunnel
  • Gabriel Medina’s absurd no-grab cave
  • Italo Ferreira’s airdrop shimmy
  • Joao Chianca’s savage dissection of the Sunset lineup
  • The entire last hour of the day


“Kelly paddled for it and couldn’t get it, and Rio didn’t want to go” -Medina regarding his backside stand-tall

“Big Daddy Baker blasting out the back” -Strider

Just needs the blonde hair for full color coordination. Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

After scrapping through yesterday’s round of fear, Jack Robinson had all the mana for today’s first pulses. It seemed like he’d barely been in the lineup for 10 minutes before he comboed Carlos Muñoz without hardly doing a turn. Though his cosmic connection with bending liplines has been talked to death, watching him conjure impossible visions can still leave me cheering at my television. 

A casualty of Jack’s magnetism happened to be Sammy Pupo, who decided he wanted to share a wave with the Australian despite being in the non-priority heat. 

From my lumpy couch, it was very confusing that Sammy didn’t see Jack, who took off nearly next to him. From the water, it was probably less cut and dry. Between the overlapping heats, the enormous fluidity of the playing field, and the commonality of priority kerfuffles at Sunset, (e.g. Zeke Lau yesterday and Kelly Slater last year) this might be the only venue on tour where an accidental burn is understandable.

Sam took it on the chin and his opponent, Leo Fioravanti, advanced through yet another priority fumble.

Moments before full-bore rail gouge. Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

An allegedly ill John John Florence surfed the first five minutes of his R32 heat alone, as Ian Gentil waited to make the long journey to the lineup until seconds before the starting bell. Strange. 

John John then outsurfed Ian by a Kam Hwy mile, and yet the heat ended up being very close, with John finishing merely a half point ahead. If you watch both of their scoring waves outside the context of the broadcast, there is far more than half a point between them. John simply has more spray, rail engagement, and flow. Nothing taken away from Ian, as he surfed well — but cmon, it’s John at Sunset.

So the question posed by many after Pipeline still stands — does John consistently get underscored? And if so, why?

The headless iceman.

One thing’s certain. Gabriel Medina doesn’t get underscored, nor does he deserve to. Man, would he be a terrifying matchup as a rookie. Rio Waida surfed very well, but his heat against Gabe sorta resembled a small boy throwing speed punches at the iron abdomen of the Terminator.

Gabe created the highlight of the day, casually paddling into a double up and driving hands-free through Sunset’s notoriously evasive tube. When was the last time you saw a goof make Sunset look like that?

The guy is confidence itself.

Not to be outdone by his Brazilian bruddah, Italo Ferreira started his heat by taking off on an unmakeable slab — and making it. In a moment eerily similar to his first ever wave at The Box , our upcoming Stab In The Dark star stuck a tiptoe airdrop to the flats and slid under a perilous lipline. If Medina is confidence manifest, then Italo is determination.

While Italo’s feat replayed, Kolohe Andino destroyed his board in frustration after losing to Miguel Pupo. Sorry Brother. 

John John showed up for what would’ve seemed like a gimme heat against Nat Young, but literally couldn’t not fall. In a very, very unusual manner, he faceplanted or flopped on every wave he caught. The ordeal ended in a broken Pyzel and the defeat of Sunset’s most feared rail-warror, without much ado whatsoever. Nat, the Northern Californian goof, afterward acknowledged with a bashful grin that he had failed to follow through on any of his initial heat strategy, but somehow still won.

By the final heats, the swell seemed to get a touch smaller, but the barrel faucet opened full bore. Griffin Colapinto, Kanoa, Joao, Matty McGilivray, and Caio Ibelli seemed to be going back-to-back-to-back, getting spat out of barrels and throwing heinous claims every few minutes.

Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

Joao Chianca clinically dissected both of his heats for 16pt totals in a vengeful return to the Sunset bowl. The guy pushes so damn hard on everything he does it looks like his fins are going to rip out of his board. Even his claims are almost chuckle-worthy. Joao extinguished both Yago and Italo on his campaign towards what we can only assume is the final.

Today was a gorging of good surfing, and the final heat perfectly exemplified the glory.

Matty McGillivray and Kanoa Igarashi traded blows, thumping kegs, and heavy rail carves for a literally non-stop 40 minutes. Matty must’ve found 20-something tubes, two of which spit like proper Backdoor waves. Kanoa nearly mounted a comeback with a final few slices, but the score fell nail-bitingly short.

While we were waiting for the score, Matty got spit out of two more after the buzzer— just for good measure.

If you can only watch one heat, watch that one.

Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League


No complaints on a day like today…except Megan Abubo calling Joao’s claims “beautiful”.

Let’s not encourage him.


Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 15.50 DEF. Carlos Munoz (CRC) 10.43
HEAT 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.03 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 0.77
HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) 12.00 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 11.47
HEAT 4: Nat Young (USA) 11.00 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 8.33
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.44 DEF. Keanu Asing (HAW) 8.83
HEAT 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 9.57 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 8.07
HEAT 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.94 DEF. Rio Waida (INA) 9.33
HEAT 8: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.66 DEF. Liam O’Brien (AUS) 12.50
HEAT 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.17 DEF. Eli Hanneman (HAW) 2.90
HEAT 10: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.06 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 9.13
HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.23 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.27
HEAT 12: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.34 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.34
HEAT 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.17 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.40
HEAT 14: Joao Chianca (BRA) 16.67 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 11.23
HEAT 15: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 11.83 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 10.24
HEAT 16: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.07 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 15.00

Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 14.33 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.83
HEAT 2: Nat Young (USA) 12.10 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 8.83
HEAT 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.83 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 9.67
HEAT 4: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.93 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.10
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.86 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.17
HEAT 6: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.33 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.77
HEAT 7: Joao Chianca (BRA) 16.83 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.16
HEAT 8: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 15.17 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.84

Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
HEAT 4: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA)

Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 2: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
HEAT 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Zoe McDougall (HAW)
HEAT 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Luana Silva (BRA)
HEAT 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
HEAT 7: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Caitlin Simmers (USA)
HEAT 8: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)

Gamble Ramble:

Remember when Mikey C was down $100 with a bruised ego? Yeah, me neither.

Now go watch those heat replays.

$20 on Nat Young at -105 (to win $19) WON
$400 on Ethan Ewing at -400 (to win $100) WON
$20 on Jake Marshall at +110 (to win $21) LOST
$100 on Filipe Toledo at -350 (to win $29) WON
$20 on Seth Moniz at +115 (to win $22) WON
$40 on Kolohe Andino at +100 (to win $40) LOST
$20 on Ryan Callinana at +175 (to win $35) LOST
$20 on Joao Chianca at -150 (to win $13) WON
$10 on Jackson Baker at +275 (to win $28) LOST
$10 on Liam O’Brien at +175 (to win $18) LOST
$30 on Leonardo Fioravanti at -115 (to win $26) WON


$30 on Griffin Colapinto at +150 (to win $45) WON
$200 on Filipe Toledo at -175 (to win $114) WON
$50 on Joao Chianca at -110 (to win $45) WON
$100 on Ethan Ewing at -200 (to win $50) WON

Event winner

$20 on Griffin at +2000 (to win $400)
$10 on Joao at +3300 (to win $330)
$40 on Filipe at +2000 (to win $800)
$20 on Jordy at +2000 (to win $400) LOST
$30 on Ethan at +1000 (to win $300)
$20 on Bettylou at +1000 (to win $200)
$20 on Molly at +1200 (to win $240)
$20 on Brisa at +2000 (to win $400)
$10 on Gabriela at +2000 (to win $200)

Day 3 total: $343
Event total: $236


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