2022 WSL Finals — Live Updates, Commentary & Conjecture - Stab Mag

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Filipe, the favorite. Photo: WSL

2022 WSL Finals — Live Updates, Commentary & Conjecture

Leave the best comment, win a surfboard!

news // Sep 8, 2022
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 16 minutes


After eight long months of competition, the 2022 WSL Championship Tour will conclude today at Lower Trestles, with both male and female world champs being named. (You can read our predictions here, and Yadin Nicol’s insider picks here.)

This post will be updated live throughout the day with insights from both the webcast and the beach.

We’ll also be giving away a surfboard (from the winning surfer’s shaper) for the best comment left down below. Let’s get amongst it!

The gals. Photo: Ryder/WSL

Women’s H1 – Steph Gilmore vs Brisa Hennessy8:00 am

Both women pick duds on wave one. Nerves likely.

Brisa follows it up with a clean right — well-surfed but conservative. 6-point-oh.

Steph follows it up with another soupy one. Tucked knee crumbles on turn two. Last year’s performance weighs on the She-GOAT, holds her underwater for an extra second. Shake it off, 7x.

Strider says the water is super warm. Need to use Fu Tropical wax. Summer Cool gonna smear.

Brisa picks a beautiful wave with priority. Belts it hard, twice, but forgets to project on the next bottom turn. Wave runs off. 8.5 potential turns to a 7.

Steph is on the next wave. Legs nearly give on an extended carve, then fully collapse on a standard lipper. 4.17.

Rumor has it Steph has been warming up for this event by surfing Malibu on a twin fin. It shows.

Brisa, again! Bang, bang, bang. So confident, so committed. The Pangs are holding beautifully in these clean morning walls. 7.33. Steph in combo with 16 minutes remaining!

Starting to regret giving her a 0% chance of winning the Title.

Brisa takes another wave that would never beat her scores. At this point, she needs to think about conserving energy. She’ll need to surf five or six heats today if she wants to take the crown.

Steph gets a bomb. Huge first carve, looks angry. Strider says she grunted loudly. Backs it up with clean lines and flow. Pete thinks it could be the wave of the heat. He right. 7.93. Back in the heat, needs a mid-six.

Brisa is on the next one. Bogs slightly, smartly kicks out before Steph to regain prio.

Steph goes left! No score, but surprising nonetheless.

Brisa blocks Steph on a right, maybe. Priority changes. Commentators split.

1:30 remaining. Set incoming!

Steph gets a beautiful, tapering right. Four clean hooks. Clicks her fingers, somewhat angrily.

Heat one, over. Scores incoming. Surely, she’ll get it.

6.83 — Steph wins!

“My heat started the same as last year, slipping off on my first two waves. I was just like, ‘I’m not losing this heat again,'” Steph said in her post-heat interview.

She looks fired up. Full villain mode. Watch out Tati.

Da boys. Photo: WSL

Men’s H1 — Kanoa Igarashi vs. Italo Ferreira – 8:40 am

Betonline.ag: I have $100 on Kanoa to win $125.

Drama on wave one!

Little left comes in, some jostling ensues. Kanoa positions himself deeper than Italo, and Italo slips behind him, running into Kanoa’s feet. Italo puts hands up like WTF, Kanoa stands up and immediately falls, as if Italo had gotten stuck in his leash.

Priority goes to Italo, no interference communicated.

Uhhhh, so they just retracted priority. Goes back to neutral. Never seen that before. Richie Porta comes on to explain.

To paraphrase: We have no idea what the fuck is going on.

Conner Coffin is in the booth. Crazy to think he was in this comp last year and now could potentially never return to the Tour. Life comes at ya fast, man.

Italo finally pulls the trigger. Looks like he’s gonna go full rote on the first section, but thinks of Mick Fanning and opts for a speed float. Tags it twice to finish. Shouldn’t be a keeper but looks good. 4.33.

Kanoa’s on the next one. Looking v high tide. Couple decent turns and a forced air rev, first of the comp. 5.00.

Air rev count: 1

Kanoa falls on a…float climb.

Italo is on the next one. His hair flips in the wind, perhaps covering his eye. He falls on a basic snap.

Italo again, trying to salvage his fall with a full-ro. No go.

Kanoa on a frothy one. Huge opening carve, arm back for style. Second turn is decent. Third turn is a little frisky, but he does well to make a mistake look like unbridled aggression. Closes with a clean rev. 6.83.

Air rev count: 2

Italo finds a closeout right. You know what’s coming. Big, clean, clicky air rev, landed without a hitch. He gives the local crowd a hush claim. Doesn’t he know Kanoa is Japanese? 8.17 and the lead.

Air rev count: 3

Italo’s up again on a small one. Forcing it. Shuv at the end was cool though. 5.2.

(And no, that wasn’t an air rev.)

How are there only three minutes left?!

Kanoa goes on a weird right with a kink in the middle. Not the score.

Sand trickles and the final hooter blows. Kanoa and Italo share a wave in, the Brazilian goes switch.

Italo, again, gets the superior score.

And I’m down $100.

Italo passes the mic to Steph. Photo: WSL

Women’s H2 – Steph Gilmore vs Tatiana Weston-Webb9:20 am

The day is moving fast, no?

Steph on the first one, bad wave selection. Not sure what’s going on.

Tati gets an average right and surfs it fine. 5.17 is an appropriate score.

Tati snags a left and goes ham sammy, spilling just a hint of mustard on her blouse. Despite the stain, judges eat it up. 8.0.

“This is the end of the road,” says Kaipo, who thinks he’s still in Tahiti. Politically correct Lower Trestles pronunciation coming soon.

Steph finds a better-looking right and surfs it to 50% of her potential. 6.5.

(Yes, that means she could technically get a 13.)

In search of a 6.68, Steph looks left. I don’t think ectomorphs are meant to go backside.

Small, compact surfers, on the other hand…Tati goes up and down four times on a right, releasing the tail more and more on each consecutive snap. 6.87.

Steph finds a taller right and puts her length to good use, combining extended carves with lip-searing snaps to get herself back in the heat. 7.0 — she now needs a 7.88.

The 16-year Tour vet brings some progression! Two lazy turns into a grab-rail nose-pick off the lip — not quite inverted but not flat either. Rosie wonders if it’s enough for the score. The answer seems obvious to me.

8.30 — Steph turns the tide again.

10 minutes remaining.

Kanoa comes onto the broadcast, revealing that his close friend’s dad passed away yesterday. It’s clearly affected him, and perhaps his performance in the heat.

Tati goes on a small right, and it’s like energy has been sucked from the room. Hard to care about sixes and sevens when we’ve just learned of something so somber. Not the score.

Steph sacrifices priority with four minutes remaining. This is Tati’s chance to prove that she’s not just healed from last year, but grown as well.

The wave comes. Tati belts it once. Twice. Then comes the closeout. The similarities to last year are uncanny. Once again, Tati takes her foot slightly off the gas…but she makes it! Very, very borderline on the 7.33. My gut says yes.

Steph is on the next wave, which has a very odd crease. She won’t improve her position.

Waiting for scores.

6.83, not enough!

Once again, Tati has to think about a single turn for the next 12 months.

So close, so far. Photo: WSL

Men’s H1 — Ethan Ewing vs. Italo Ferreira – 10:00 am

Sorry — needed to get some food.

This heat will tell us a lot about the judges. Two surfers who are diametrically opposed, battling on a blank canvas. Lefts and rights, airs and turns all on offer. What do the score lords want to see?

Italo goes left. Few squatty slides, judges say 6.0. Commentators are surprised.

Griffin’a happy for Ethan to wait out the back for a bomb.

In the meantime, a quick Steph interview.

“I need to add more progression to my surfing. That’s a fact. But for now, I’m gonna stick to what I know.”

She’s one win away from a three-heat surf off with Riss.

Italo goes left again, this time starting with an air. 6.83. Commentators surprised again by the score’s lofty nature.

Ai rev count: 4

Griffin Colapinto’s in the booth. He’s got a great attitude despite the circumstances.

Kaipo asks if Ethan will show some progression or stick to his bread and butter.

“He’ll stick to his bread and butter, but his bread and butter is progressive,” Griff says. “His carves are better than anyone’s, and to me that’s progression.


After sitting for 15 minutes, Ethan blows his prio on a mid-sized right, forces the issue, and falls.

Italo is on a better one behind. Surfs it well enough, improves his position slightly with a 6.27. It could have been a 7 for E.

Ethan takes a peaky right with prio. Goes air rev on the first section, falls as the wave fizzles.

“He hasn’t been doing this all week, so I have no idea what’s going on,” says Griff.

But it’s pretty clear what’s happening. He’s succumbing to the pressure. Unfortunate, but not totally surprising.

Conditions are changing. Overcast skies, ruffle on the surface.

Ethan slides out again, perhaps due to his recent fin change — he’s been riding glass all week, but switched to Honeycomb due to the conditions.

10 minutes remaining, Ethan needs an 8.77. Not where he wants to be, not where we thought he’d be.

Tati comes in for a chat. She thought she did enough to win the heat, claiming she had three big turns on her last wave. When she watches the replay back, she’ll realize she left the half-point she needed on the final section.

Ethan slightly betters his position with a 4.77, but still needs an 8.

Air rev count: 5

Another small wave for E improves his position again – 5.33 brings the reuirement to 7.77.

Feeling luck-E?

One last wave, 45 seconds remaining. Ethan surfs it well, but lacks some of his signature flow. The wave fizzles to nothing, and Ethan gives the second claim of his career — it feels half-hearted.

Griffin wonders if Ethan can get the score without a weighty finish. My guess is no.

Judges agree. Italo on.

..Anyone getting nervous? Photo: WSL

Women’s H3 – Steph Gilmore vs Johanne Defay10:40 am

Why is Chris Cote yelling?

Also, I’d be very I scared rn if I was Johanne.

Steph is riding high off two wins and likely doesn’t feel much fatigue yet. A perfect storm of terror.

7x gets off to a quick start, 6.33 on a tiny righthander. Imagine when she gets a real wave.

Johanne is next — opens strong but gets a little scrunchy on her layback. 4.00.

Steph gets a real wave. Huge daddy hacks. Score’s not in yet but garans it’s excellent.

Johanne gets a small right, feels inconsequential. She’s gonna need a lot more.

Steph score drops: 8.83.

Joey finds a left but is stuck behind it.

After a long lull, Johanne puts in a stronger effort on a right. Good mix of turns, looked solid on her board…

…then Steph finds the steepest wave of the heat and puts it in a triangle hold. Three sharp angles and another excellent score is imminent.

Scores drop: Johanne — 5.93. Steph: 8.00.

Take it easy Steph, you need to leave some in the tank.

Pete wonders if this performace will start to creep into Carissa’s head.

Johanne can’t get close to the combo. Steph onto the final.

And she could actually win it.

It’s starting to seem very, very possible. Photo: WSL

Men’s H1 — Jack Robinson vs. Italo Ferreira – 11:20 am

Slow start here.

Italo with an in-n-out, then a right for a five.

Ital finds a single-section left and lofts a solitary spin — 5.83 seems high given the lack of height and rotation.

Air rev counter: 6

Jack is on the next wave, taking off in the whitewater. Clean first carve and a cheeky fin-ditch, but he kicks out early to regain priority.

Italo’ on the next wave anyway, a left, and gets a two-for-one on twirlybirds. 6.27.

Air rev counter: 8

22 minutes remaining, Jack patiently waiting. We’ve seen how that pans out.

Italo is relentless on the left. Slob grab rev on the first turn, into a giant fin waft, then another mini-spin on the inside. Shades of Clay Marzo’s NSSA Nationals win in 2005.

Air rev counter: 10

7.0. Every wave better than the last.

The left air wind is ideal. Italo capitalizes — again. I’m calling this one an air rev even of he spun the wrong way.

Air rev counter: 11

Jack again. Forces the issue. This is what happens when someone bangs fives, then sixes, then sevens under priority.

Again he goes. Another botched reverse attempt. The wind, not so good in this direction. Stick to the face kid! A huge (head high) set rolls through with no takers. Jack no doubt cursing his decisions.

How did I end up here?

10 minutes remaining.

Big set comes through. Italo up first. A flurry of gyrations sees him standing switch 200 meters down the line. Was it good, bad, excellent? Hard to say.

Jack’s up now, looking more and more like Bruce Irons. God he surfs well. After a sly reverse the wave lets him down, and he kicks out to regain priority. This wave will get him back in contention, but he’ll another great wave in the end.

Scores are in: Italo – 6.03. Jack – 4.6.

The Australian needs a 9.1 with five minutes remaining.

Italo greases another right. Only surfed it at 60%, which decreased the spray but increased the flow. Judges could go either way.

7.33 — jack practically needs a 10.

1:30 remaining, the set of the heat rolls through.

Jack goes on wave one and surfs well, but not like a guy who needs a high nine. Odd that he didn’t push it a bit harder considering the circumstances.

Jack kicks out to see Italo putting a more appropriate level of effort into his own right, making it clear that he’s the one who deserves a shot against Fil.

Italo gets the best of the exchange with an 8.77 to Jack’s 8.7.

Can’t believe it’s already the finals!

Today, the young’ns just couldn’t cope. Photo: WSL

Women’s Final Heat 1 – Steph Gilmore vs Carissa Moore12:00 pm

Dear god. Steph gets the jump on the opening excvhange and flexes for an 8.33. She looks like a completely different human from heat one. Crazy what some confidence can do for a person.

Carissa, certainly, displeased. The Hawaiian comes back with a 5 and a 3.33, matching Steph’s single score on two waves but remaining in second place. Hate to see it.

Steph fights back with a five of her own, then connects a longer wave for a 6.67. Riss in major catch up mode.

But 5x ain’t giving up yet, linking a few nice turns for a 5.9.

Strider says that Steph is showing no signs of fatigue and her eyes are “pure lasers”. Luckily he’s wearing those glasses.

Two minutes left, Steph takes a bad wave with priority. Carissa left out the back needing a 9.1.

Wave never comes. Steph 1 – Carissa 0.

The top seed loses Heat 1 for the second year in a row. Can she turn it around again?

We’ll know in an hour.

Is this really happening? Photo: WSL

Pre-Final Debrief

Well, this day has not gone how I expected.

First and foremost, my beloved Betonline.ag has been completely awol, leaving me unable to wager on any of these heats. Good thing, too, because I would have lost a ton of money.

No chance I saw two surfers from Heat 1 finishing in the final today, let alone potentially winning the Title. Steph — who I gave a 5% chance of winning her eighth — is already one up in the finals, and I’m starting to feel like Italo — who I gave an 8% chance of winning his second — might have the edge on Fil in these conditions.

This would not please my mind or my wallet.

Just a reminder of what my bets look like:
– $100 on Kanoa Igarashi to win R1 LOST
– $10 on Johanne Defay to win $140 LOST
– $10 on Ethan Ewing to win $400 LOST
– $20 on Jack Robinson to win $320 LOST
– $250 on Filipe Toledo to win $750 TBD
– $20 on Steph Gilmore to win $240 TBD

Earnings today (thus far): – $140
Season earnings (pre-event): $792

If Filipe wins, it was a damn good year. If Steph wins, I’m also sitting pretty. If neither win, I spent 100 hours of my life and several sleepless nights to earn roughly $300.

It was pretty fun though.

Who had this prop bet? Photo: WSL

Men’s Final Heat 1 — Filipe Toledo vs. Italo Ferreira – 12:50 pm

Italo opens with a fall.

Filipe finds a sloppy right and surfs the ever-loving shit out of it. Can’t wait to see him get a clean one. 7.5 nonetheless.

I can breathe again.

Italo comes back with a two-rev left. The wind is really howling now, so the speeds not there. Can’t imagine it will go above a 6.

Air rev counter: 13

Filipe’s on the next one, a velvety right. He blitzes the first few sections, wraps a cutty, then Caity Simmers himself on the inside. Fortunately, slow-mo vision shows that he got his hands up quick enough to block the board from his noggin.

After a quick wax scratch he’s quickly out the back.

Steph pops in for a quick interview — a woman possessed. One more heat to her eighth world title and the winningest record in female surf history. Also importantly, she’d be beating Carissa at the peak of her powers and changing the gap between them from one two three.

In the famous words of Cotton McKnight, “It’s a two-title swing!”

Filipe gets another windy right and somehow slices through all the chop — on an epoxy! Maybe it’s the extra fin that keeps him stuck to the water. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful.

Italo is doing like six spins per wave, and at this point I don’t know how to differentiate a fin ditch from an air. Apologies to those playing our air rev game in the comments.

Air rev counter: 14

Oh my god. Filipe just reminded us why he’s number one in the world. That right might not be the highest score of the wave, but it was the best surfing by far. Being able to link big maneuvers while keeping his speed on a wave that would have been a closeout for 99.9999% of surfers is outrageous.

Despite all the pre-event chatter, Filipe deserves to win. This heat has made it so incredibly obvious how head and shoulders he is above the pack. In the worst conditions of the day, he’s doing surfing that would have won most heats easily. World Champ for sure.

The score came in at a 7.63. Totally fair, but also wildly underscored. Difficulty was a 9.9.

Italo isn’t giving up yet. He clicked a few beautiful finners on a steep right to lock in the highest number of the heat — 8.0.

That feels personally offensive after what Filipe just did, but the wave quality was significantly higher.

Needing a 7.13 for the lead, Italo takes off on an odd-looking right that becomes unexpectedly clean through the middle, allowing him to knock out 12(!) turns. It’s boring and annoying but you can’t deny it.

Wait a minute, yes you can! Judges go shockingly low with a 6.93.

I am so incredibly lost. Conspiracy?

I don’t know how to feel. Filipe surfed better, but Italo should have won. Gonna need some time to process this.

But there is no time! Onto women’s round 2.

Wouldn’t want to be a Timmy Patterson board or a poster of Mick Fanning right now. Photo: WSL

Women’s Final Heat 2 – Steph Gilmore (1) vs Carissa Moore (0) – 1:30 pm

Kelly and Mick are in the booth! Magic to come. Remember last year?

“I’d like to see Steph be really aggressive right now,” Kelly says.

Filipe’s first interview of the day, says his second score should have been higher. I’d have to agree. Maybe the judges thought the same, hence the lowball on Italo’s last.

Camera pans to Italo looking depressed and confused. I get that too. Judges kinda shafted both of them, somehow.

Kelly and Mick are talking about surf betting. Must be nice 🙁

With the clock nearing restart territory, Steph takes off on the opening wave. It wasn’t amazing, but it was still a smart move — the less time she can spend out there with Carissa, the better.

Carissa’s on the next one, slightly better, and sprays Steph along the way. Don’t poke the bear.

“I remember spraying people used to be really important to me,” says Kelly.

Scores drop: Steph – 5.83. Carissa – 5.17.

My concept of judging is completely falling apart. Anyone else?

Camera pans to Italo with an ice pack on his ankle and kind woman consoling him. Is it already over?

Doubt it.

Steph takes off on a bad wave for no apparent reason.

Carissa returns the favor.

Steph capitalizes, linking a difficult wave with a flurry of impactful turns.

“I kinda know how she’s feeling on that wave,” says Kelly. “Like, ‘this could be my world title wave’.”

Mick attributes her performance to a new, tighter fin cluster. Brb while I re-glass all my boards.

Carissa takes off another dud. Priority to Steph with 10 minutes remaining. Holy shit.

“I always felt better surfing against a Mick Fanning or a Joel Parkinson or a John Florence,” Kelly says. “Because I knew I couldn’t hold anything back.”

Mick concurs.

“In the early rounds I was always nervous,” he said. “But once I was in the quarters I could breathe again.”

Steph interrupts their nostalgia with a weird wave surfed well. Should better her low score.

Carissa throws everything on a small soupy one. It won’t be a huge score, but it might help.

Paddle battle to the peak with six remaining. Carissa gets it. Job one done.

Scores drop: Steph – 6.67. Carissa – 6.8.

Carissa needs a 7.88 to stay alive.

Carissa paddles for a wave and misses it! Steph on the next one, two clean turns to another grab-rail rev.

Unless a miracle happens, this thing is Steph’s.

One minute remaining.

The improbable proved possible.

Eight world titles.

Long live the Queen.

Remarkable words in her post-heat interview:

“I told myself, ‘I have a chance. Let’s just prove this whole system wrong.’ Carissa is the real world champ to me this year.”

We’ll need some time to digest and break that down properly.

But thank you Steph for the incredible show, for proving me wrong (5% RIP), and for the $240 payout.

Let’s see if we can’t add $750 to it.

The Queen lives. Photo: WSL

Men’s Final Heat 1 — Filipe Toledo vs. Italo Ferreira – 2:15 pm

“Somebody’s cutting onions in here bro,” says a teary-eyed Kelly Slater, still reeling over Steph’s win.

But it’s straight into the action for Fil and Italo, with the former tearing a right through the inside and Italo racing into frame on a speedy left, launching over Filipe’s shoulder and coming just short of a completion.

No big scores, but perhaps the best cinematography in WSL history.

Sorry, got pulled into Steph stuff! Catching up now.

Filipe’s well in the lead with a high 7 and low-6, I’m guessing you guys know all about them.

Italo’s got a high score of a 6.33, needing a 7.18 to keep his season alive.

I also hear he landed and air rev, so adding one to the tally.

Air rev counter: 15

First wave back is a split peak, you’ll never guess who went left.

Italo to the air (“super crazy, corked out inverted” says Kelly), then backs it up with weird turns and a forced rev on the end.

Air rev counter: 16

Filipe’s right is the polar opposite — four of the exact same forehand wrap, kinda Fanning-esque, followed by a slash. What will the judges do?

Mick and Kelly confused, for good reason.

Filipe: 8.67.

Italo: 8.6.

Ferreira needs a 7.91 to advance.

30 seconds left, no waves on the horizon.

F1ilipe Toledo impending.

A new World Champion.

Fucking deserves it.

“He didn’t make the Olympic team,” says Kelly. “Can you imagine the best small wave surfer in the world not being in the small wave Olympics?”

Tears and hugs out the back, even more on the beach.

Holy shit, just realized I won $1,000 in the last hour — well, $990.

Thanks Betonline.ag. I take back all the bad things I said. I’m sure you had a very good reason for being absent on the biggest surfing day of the year.

Thursday night football etc.

So that brings us to:

Earnings today: $850
2022 Season earnings: $1,642

Have you ever seen eyes that wanted something more deeply? Photo: WSL

Kelly talks, playfully, about how much Filipe’s father Ricardo used to annoy them in the competitors’ area. Whistling, orange shirt, etc. “But as a father, he must just be so proud.”

The (new) champ gets the mic.

“It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before,” Filipe says. “It’s a relief. All that hard work for nine years. Leaving your family behind. But seeing the sparkle in my family’s eyes, there is no price. It’s even better than I imagined.”


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