An Inconsequential Day Of Consequential Waves - Stab Mag
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Reef Heazlewood, into the mystic. Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

An Inconsequential Day Of Consequential Waves

Big waves, big scores, and big drama in WA—though nobody has lost just yet.

news // May 2, 2021
Words by Tim Hawken
Reading Time: 6 minutes

It’s crazy how much drama you can pack into a day of surfing, even when the actual heat results don’t really matter. 

Round 1 of the Margaret River Pro featured plenty of consequence in the ocean without a single surfer being eliminated. The obvious highlight was John John’s 10, which you must’ve seen on every Insta feed in the surfing world. The thing was already a perfect score when he came out of a long, tricky pit, surprising even himself, but then he hammered a turn to finish. Incredibly, one judge only dropped a 9.8 for the wave—probably the same Scrooge who thought Carissa’s Mereweather air rev wasn’t perfect. Imagine being married to someone like that. 

Visions of John’s wave start around 4:16.

Regardless, John got the ‘imperfect 10’ when the wrong score was cast away and backed it up with some fine rail work to take the win. The undercover story in that heat was Michel Bourez, who attacked the end section in a way that his Spartan nickname suggests. Michel would have easily won a lot of other heats in the round, if John hadn’t detonated the scale. 

The day itself started with wobbly, 4-5ft waves out at Mainbreak. The women made the tough conditions look fun, dodging sets and hitting lips to rack up good scores. Tatiana continued her form from Narrabeen, moonwalking past her competitors in the first heat. Carrissa stamped true domination on the draw though, putting together the only excellent wave on the women’s side with three solid turns. Considering she didn’t even look like she got out of second gear, it’s a daunting signal for her competitors. They’re going to have to do something special to catch up her in the later rounds. 

One surfer worth shouting out is Amuro Tsuzuki. She threw herself into the lip on a big left, dusting a tough landing and coming out for the highest score of her heat. The turn itself wasn’t super polished, but her combination of commitment and drama tickled the judge’s pickles, setting up their intention to reward big hits and excitement during the day (unless you’re that one judge, eh, John John). Amuro capped things with a polished righthander to become the first Japanese female to win a heat on the World Tour in two decades. A lowkey historical moment that will be one of many if she keeps up form like that. 

Bottoms up. Amuro Tsuzuki had a low-key historical heat win. Photo: Cait Miers

Another surprise on the women’s side was Steph Gilmore, who got lost at sea and lost out straight into Round 2. There was also Courtney Conlogue, who you’d think would excel in solid waves, but struggled to find anything of note. She had a chance at the end of the heat, when local Bronte Macauly had priority and got washed in by a close-out set. Bronte popped up in the lagoon, waving at the jetski drivers, who left her hanging like a scruffy backpacker on the side of the road. Courtney caught a wave but couldn’t convert, sending Fantasy Surfer geeks the world over scrambling to swap her and Steph out, just in case they continue their lacklustre form in the next few days.

From there, things escalated. 6ft sets turned into 8ft sets, then 10ft, then plus plus. Gabby Medina even said he saw the biggest wave he’s ever witnessed in a heat roll through. Jadson Andre showed his commitment, attempting a late drop on a bomb only to nose-pick into the face and have the entire Indian Ocean flushed up his nostrils. Still, he made his heat along with a rock solid Jordy Smith. 

Big Wave Gabe. Photo: Cait Miers/WSL

Heat 5 was one of the most exciting of the day. Reigning world champ Italo Ferreira took on the two big West Oz hopes Jack Robbo and Jacob Wilcox. Italo surfed insane, hammering a turn under the lip and outrunning a ten-tonne guillotine to survive and earn a 7.83. Meanwhile, Jack and Jacob traded 7s. The Wildcard then got the wave of the heat, doing two meaty backhand hacks to move into the excellent range. In the end, Jack Robbo was left sitting in third with a heat score that would have got him through any other matchup. He fell off on a turn at the end that could have got him through, leaving conspiracy theorists to query whether he wanted to lose in case it meant he could surf The Box twice tomorrow in Rounds 2 and 3. Time will tell there. 

The punches kept rolling. Matthew McGillivray looked like a totally different surfer from the last events. On one wave, he elevator dropped from top to bottom and stuck the landing before hitting eject to get possibly the most entertaining 0.93 in surfing history. Matthew built on that adrenaline and converted his next couple, racking up an 8.33 and 9.00 for the highest heat total of the day bar none. 

Jordy Smith is no stranger to the Indian Ocean. Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

Ryan Callinan rampaged into his heat with horns up as well. He swung into an enormous set in the middle of his heat, grabbed rail off the bottom and hooked one legit Occy snap before going into a closeout blast. Ryan hung on with toenails digging into his wax, successfully navigating a mountain of whitewater. The clifftop erupted. Cheers of 10! rang out from the competitors area. However, it seemed the tight-ass virus was circulating in the judging tower, with two judges this time dropping the flaccid 9.8. With three 10s on the rack, the score still averaged at a respectable 9.93 for a more than respectable show of power surfing. 

Julian Wilson rounded out a pretty amazing day, showing his experience at Margaret River. He was all smiles in his post heat interview, sounding excited to be out of the beach breaks of the east coast and into some ‘real surf.’

The forecast for Day 2 is looking like more real surf. It’s almost as perfect as it gets for West Oz. Solid swell, offshore winds, high tide nearly all day. It might be too big for The Box but, if so, there will be plenty of fireworks at Main Break. The day will kick off with the last 2 heats of Round 1 of the mens, before diving into the elimination rounds. Three surfers enter, only two survive. This should be entertaining. 

It ain’t gonna stop.

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Women’s Seeding Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 11.77 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.84, Keely Andrew (AUS) 8.67
HEAT 2: Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 11.56 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 11.33, Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.77
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.66 DEF. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 7.43, Willow Hardy (AUS) 6.43
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 11.00 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 7.93, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 7.13
HEAT 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.10 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.50, Sage Erickson (USA) 6.96
HEAT 6: Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.10 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 8.33, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.33

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Willow Hardy (AUS)  
HEAT 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Men’s Seeding Round 1 (H1-10) Results:
HEAT 1: Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.43 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.83, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 6.00
HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.50 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.10, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.36
HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) 17.50 DEF. Michel Bourez (FRA) 12.00, Mikey Wright (AUS) 7.50
HEAT 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.27 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 7.83, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 7.10
HEAT 5: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 15.30 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.76, Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.43
HEAT 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.93 DEF. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.07, Cyrus Cox (AUS) 7.17
HEAT 7: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 17.33 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.60, Conner Coffin (USA) 6.76
HEAT 8: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.94 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.06, Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.84
HEAT 9: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.46 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.57, Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 4.93
HEAT 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.07 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.60, Frederico Morais (PRT) 7.93

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Remaining Men’s Seeding Round 1 (H11-12) Matchups:
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Owen Wright (AUS), Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 12: Yago Dora (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS)

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) vs. Cyrus Cox (AUS)
HEAT 2: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS) vs. TBD
HEAT 3: Mikey Wright (AUS) vs. TBD vs. TBD
HEAT 4: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. TBD vs. TBD

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