A Strange Monday In Narrabeen
Upsets, blow ups, broken boards, questionable calls, and various other spectacles.
As the recently departed (retired?) yet strangely never spoken of 1989 world champion Martin Potter would say, “Wow!”
Today was one of those crazy days in surfing that come along every now and then where things go a little pear-shaped, and the entertainment level sails through the roof.
It wasn’t quite the legendary meltdown of Snapper 2017—when the Quik Pro went on hold for a week due to a complete lack of waves before finally relaunching with Freddy Patachia surfing into a rock, Kelly Slater losing to rookie Italo Ferreira, and Gabriel Medina copping an interference against Glenn Hall then threatening to fight him on the webcast amongst other moments of hilarity—but day three of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic was still pretty good.
People will talk endlessly about whether or not the judges blew it when they ruled Italo’s massive Round of 16 aerial incomplete. [Read Mikey C’s dissection of it here]. He could have done us all a favour by landing the massive backside rotation he launched in his heat with Conner Coffin, but despite the near-impossible punt seeming pretty stock standard for Italo he didn’t quite stick it and left us all to deal with the mess that came at the end, when Conner finished his second heat in a row with a buzzer beating heat winner to the disgust of our yellow jersey wearing reigning world champ.
Italo will long be today’s main topic of conversation, especially once he went and snapped his board in the locker room jumping on it, but that would be doing the rest of the heats a disservice. After a sleepy weekend of frustrating conditions there were rumours that today would be smaller and slower still, and judging by the number of dusty heads on site early it seemed the word had got around. Yet first light shone on gloriously clean lines, perhaps smaller, but angled more to the east, and chopped up into dreamy looking peaks and runners. We were on.
Jordy Smith kicked off the day with an easy victory over Alex Ribeiro, most notable for him wheeling out a backhand superman for the first time since Modern Collective. The judges weren’t thrilled, throwing him a 4.93, but he rolled on unperturbed. Yago Dora was up next and found conditions perfectly suited for his low-slung stye and high-flying antics. A 7.5 and an 8.83 later and Peterson Crisanto was sent home.
Griffin Colapinto and Adriano de Souza fought out a tight one, Griff leading for the majority while ADS sat stewing, convinced the judges weren’t recognizing his work. A 6.6 from Adriano lead to an eruption of fist pumps and pointing and air scribbles and other work that lasted well beyond his next duckdive, and in case he wasn’t already seething enough, the score came in at the exact number needed to tie the bout. Given there are five judges, two spares, a head judge, a priority judge, and a person in charge of replays, it’s baffling how many times so far this year this exact scenario has unfolded (including Morgan Cibilic and Ryan Callinan’s huge tie in Newcastle). Adriano took the news well (ha!) but then Griff smashed one last wave anyway to put the matchup beyond doubt. De Souza was pissed, but he copped it, and the cuddle with Griff was a nice touch in the shorey. It wouldn’t be the last hug for the day.
Reef Heazlewood and Ryan Callinan closed out the round, but it was far from close as the wildcard never missed a beat from the halfway mark on, to eliminate Callinan in convincing fashion. More than the one punt pony he’s often labelled as, Reef combined sharp railwork with a clever tactical game to claim yet another a big name scalp.
The women hit the water next in the round of 16, and their results were more or less straightforward. Carissa Moore smashed Brisa Hennessy. Keely “Most improved competitor” Andrew bounced Malia Manuel. Sally Fitzgbbons was lucky to get past Macy, who couldn’t have done much more. Sal is good at finding ways to win those ones, always has been. Tatiana Weston-Webb demolished Nikki Van Dijk, who never found her feet. Caroline Marks did it easily over Amuro Tsuzuki, as did Stephanie Gilmore over Sage Erickson. Courtney Conlogue was overscored on her sealer, but would have done enough to beat Bronte Macaulay in a tight one anyway.
That just leaves Tyler Wright, who had a strange battle with yesterday’s best surfer, Johanne Defay. Tyler had a near-13 point total when she decided to start playing priority games, with more than 10 minutes left on the clock. Opting out of doing more work on the right Tyler paddled over to the Frenchwoman, who was sitting on her beloved left, and never let her out of her sight. The waves were a peak through this part of the day however, and there were options aplenty, mainly favouring the longer, steeper lefts. When Tyler paddled for a left purely to block Johanne, she coughed up priority and opened the door for the Frenchwoman to storm home. A clinical dismantling of another backhand wall later and Johanne snatched an opportunity she really should never have been given. Tyler gave Johanne two thumbs up and a smile as she made her way in, then screamed to herself, knowing full well she could have done much more with that one. Coming into the finals this event is Carissa’s to lose, and if she does it will probably be to Johanne.
To cap off another long Narrabeen day we ran eight heats of men’s Round 16 action, and the bloodbath of higher seeds continued early. For his whole damn career Filipe Toledo has, no matter what, caught the first wave of every heat he’s competed in. Today though, in flukey conditions that honour went to Frederico Morais, and Filipe was then becalmed for the next 20 minutes. Always a rhythm surfer, Filipe finally broke his drought with a toboggan take-off on his tummy, then on his next wave snapped his board as he prepared to send one stratospheric. Sadly, all that remained was a tail pad with fins attached, and Filipe had to swim a long way in to the beach as Peterson Crisanto bolted from the competitors area at the back of the dunes with his backup. By the time Filipe finally paddled back out there was only a handful of minutes remaining, and the crowd sensed a boil over. Eventually Phil and Fred exchanged waves, a visibly gassed Toledo digging deep into the reserves to summon up a seven, but it wasn’t enough as the tall Portuguese answered back immediately and bundled the perennial favourite out.
Next up Ethan Ewing bundled Jadson Andre out in a battle that was only remarkable for signalling the first time Ethan has ever made it to the quarterfinals, and then came the grudge match to end them all with Caio Ibelli taking on dark knight Gabriel Medina. Sadly it was all one way traffic as Gabby got busy while Caio dropped anchor with priority. To ice the heat Gabriel stole top billing on the day’s showreel, with a massive backside air reverse that had the beach breathless. To celebrate he reverted to his Newcastle basketball claim, and to highlight that the learning never ends he added a few dribbles and a fadeaway jump shot, in a much better overall performance. To keep the weirdness going, Caio and Gab then had a post-heat hug, when surely they’re meant to hate each other? Strange.
After the success of local Rip Curl surfshop employee Dylan Moffatt yesterday in accounting for Leonardo Fioravanti it should come as no surprise to find out that Morgan Cibilic has also spent time behind the tills in a Search store. I’m not sure what their sales techniques are like, but holy hell they must learn some backside skills because Morgan totally stole the show today on the strength of one Dane Reynolds-esque turn. After John and Morgs exchanged blows and slowly built their totals across the opening 16 minutes, Morgs took off on a left rip bowl that John had already passed up, and went absolutely bananas. The lower half of Morg’s SharpEye exploded out of the back of the wave in a move that had people blurting out that they’d never seen anything like it before, and that was it, the heat was done. There was plenty of time to go, but it was over, no doubt about it. After beating John in Newy, and then the WSL serving up debate about whether or not the local kid had been judged a little generously, with one huge bottom turn to dynamic lip blast Morgs showed he’s more than worthy of all the hype he’s generated lately, and will be gutted if he can’t turn these two incredible results into a solid sitting at the Dream Tour table.
The Italo debacle was next, Conner earlier joking he hoped the wind would be offshore to negate the champion’s air game, and much to his delight he wasn’t far off in the end. Jack Robinson launched an enormous Bruce Irons-style wheelie that felt underdone as a four, but Kanoa still would have taken the heat in the end anyway. In the penultimate heat Jordy Smith’s luck finally ran out against event darkhorse Yago. Finally, as the sun sunk, Griffin Colapinto did all he had to against Reef Heazelwood, who looks more like he belongs at this level every time he hits the water.
We’re 56 of 70 heats through this event, so seven hours from glory. Gabriel looks a safe bet for the fellas, Carissa for the ladies. The surf is scheduled to be more of the same, and if we’re not done and dusted by this time tomorrow I’ll be really surprised.
Let’s do it.
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Men’s Remaining Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 13: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.43 DEF. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 8.66
HEAT 14: Yago Dora (BRA) 16.33 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 6.07
HEAT 15: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.57 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.43
HEAT 16: Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 12.50 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.00
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.60 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.93
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.97 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.70
HEAT 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.00 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 4.93
HEAT 4: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 15.70 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 11.77
HEAT 5: Conner Coffin (USA) 11.47 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.67
HEAT 6: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.60 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.60
HEAT 7: Yago Dora (BRA) 11.43 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.80
HEAT 8: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.27 DEF. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 11.33
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
HEAT 3: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
HEAT 4: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Women’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.66 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 8.66
HEAT 2: Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.80 DEF. Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.97
HEAT 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.10 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 13.73
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 14.00 DEF. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 6.23
HEAT 5: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.43 DEF. Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 7.03
HEAT 6: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.83 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.97
HEAT 7: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.00 DEF. Sage Erickson (USA) 9.83
HEAT 8: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.33 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.30
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
HEAT 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
HEAT 3: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
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