This Was A 10 - Stab Mag
Excuse me while I 'Riss the sky, etc. Photo: Cait Miers/WSL

This Was A 10

Carissa Moore’s internet-disrupting air and other highlights from Day 4 in Newcastle.

news // Apr 9, 2021
Words by Chris Binns
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today four-time world champion Carissa Moore did the best aerial ever seen in women’s competition, by about three-feet of amplitude and 10,000 style points.

A move so unique that her opponent clapped in the shorebreak and all but high-fived her afterwards. Our aerialiste gasped in shock on landing, then spent the rest of the heat crying tears of joy, the clip going viral long before she hit the beach victorious over Johanne Defay.

Go to the WSL’s Instagram and you’ll see comments of congratulations and salutation from Italo Ferreira, Filipe Toledo, Kelly Slater, Jamie O’Brien, Griffin Colapinto, Jack Robinson and many more, all in awe of what they’d just witnessed. Even skate queen Nora Vasconcellos dropped by to throw some love heart eyes Riss’ way.

Bizarrely though, less than an hour after competitors were sent the round’s criteria, stating that “innovative and progressive manoeuvres will be highly rewarded”, Riss’ frontside air-reverse, perfectly grabbed and so highly-lofted that she disappeared out of the top of the screen, fell short of a 10—coming in at a 9.9. Three judges punched the magic number into their tablets, yet two decided it merited a 9.7 and a 9.5, and like that perfection was bid farewell.

A quick scan of the internet shows recent 10s given to Lakey Petersen at Snapper in 2017, and Steph Gilmore at Trestles in 2014, for slick combinations of elite turns, yet the first women’s wave to have people screaming their lungs out since Steph destroyed that perfect six-foot Keramas bomb two years ago was judged to be not quite there. Sure, it’s only a fraction of a point, but the miss between a 9.9 and a 10 is as good as a mile in the history books.

The level of the women’s tour has gone through the roof in the past decade, from the performances to interest levels. Today the women surfed in the day’s best conditions, and when Carissa stole the show ahead of a field of on-point peers a 10 would have iced an incredible show.             

A perfect score sends a message to the rest of the women’s field that they need to add this string to their bow. It says that in a crucial moment, chasing a big score for a win, they might just HAVE to take to the sky and push the performance levels of their sport. If the women know they can get a nine on turns, when the risk involved is so minimal in comparison to the extra fraction of a point available for a dicey aerial, then why would they even bother?

Further, why would the general public show any interest in a surfing moment that hasn’t even been given the highest score available? What if that same thinking led to this iconic moment falling through the cracks over time, and not being spoken about in the same breath as Steph’s Balinese barn burner, Kelly Slater’s historic 10 in New York, or Filipe Toledo’s perfect score for back-to-back oops at Jeffrey’s Bay? Because that’s the company’s Carissa Moore’s Merewether moonwalk deserves to keep.

BTW. One judge yesterday gave Morgan Cibilic a 9.7 for his highest scoring wave. It was a cute moment, but can you tell me what he did again?

Carissa’s incredible leap for womenkind aside, the rest of the day was pretty bloody good too. The sun rose on a ton of swell, crisp offshores, and waves that seemed confused as to whether they should hit the outside bank or implode straight on the beach. Gabby Medina, the new smiley version who left his dad behind and came to Australia with a new wife instead, made light work of Frederico Morais with some heavy work on the treacherous end bowl. After a handful of failed kamikaze floater attempts, it was like a skateboarder finally conquering a rail when he rode away from a brutally risky roof ride, the perfect ender to his victorious heat.

Adriano de Souza and Julian Wilson copped the day’s dud heat. There’s always one, but an 8-7 win to the Brazilian legend tells you all you need to know. Jules looked nonplussed, while Adriano was probably more jubilant than the situation deserved. But you know what, if the hardest working world champ in the history of our sport wants to enjoy the shit out of his retirement tour of the globe, then I for one am all fucking for it. Vai de Souza! Or, #ValeuMineiro, as Red Bull are putting it.

Merewether Morgs kept his nine-toed momentum up, beating Wade “Keg” Carmichael easily 16-10 and setting up an all-Newy battle with Ryan Callinan, who took out Owen Wright, a six and a seven beating a pair of sixes, along the way. Expect the black and blue army to scream themselves hoarse tomorrow, when their two charges guarantee a local semi-finalist.

Keg-like behaviour. Wade Carmichael. Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

Italo did Italo things, a pair of dynamite backhand air reverses suddenly making conditions look playful (they weren’t) and earning him a pair of eights to bounce out Griffin Colapinto, who stomped one air-reverse so hard he cleft his craft in twain on impact. DVD Silva scratched Kanoa Igaradashian in a snoozefest, quickly followed by Jordy Smith and Conner Coffin playing musical leads for 30 minutes, with Conner in the next round when the music stopped.

In the final heat of men’s action for the day, Filipe Toledo dusted Yago Dora en route to the semis. Italo is the event’s unmissable act, but for this scribe Phil is the one to beat. So confident was Toledo that he swapped boards mid-heat, not through damage, seemingly just to figure a few things out. Renowned for his air work, Phil’s deadliest weapon is a lightning carve that nobody else in the lineup can match. So desperate for the win was Yago that at one point he went hunting Toledo as he paddled out, and launched a wobbly aerial vaguely in his direction before looking hopefully at the judging tower as if to suggest that, y’know, maybe he kinda deserves an interference? The judges weren’t buying it, but it does make you pine for the time in the ‘70s that Peter Drouyn suggested full contact heats might be the answer. 

Just imagine that for a sec.

When airs begin to bore you, try changing boards mid-heat just to spice things up. Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

Back on the ladies side of the draw, it’s all Carissa, even more so given the momentum she’s building. After a long break for the tide around lunchtime the late afternoon conditions were magnificent, the light superb, and the vision and imagery that resulted will be the best of the day.

The top half of the draw will see young Sunshine Coasters Isabella Nichols and Keely Andrew match up in a semi-final battle that never seemed imaginable a few shorts years ago, accounting for Steph and Courtney Conlogue (in a fantastic back and forth arm wrestle) respectively. Nichols, the 2016 world junior champ, grew up idolising seven times opens champ Steph, and would have been surprised to see her hero chasing tubes when her bread-and-butter turns might have done the job. Go to Bella’s Instagram for a very cute recap of her feelings in the aftermath.

On the bottom half of the draw, Carissa will take on Caroline Marks, who made light work of fellow goofy footer Bronte Macaulay. Smart money would suggest the winner will come from this semi-final.

Today was great, tomorrow could well be glorious. Ten heats to go, let’s hope they’re perfect.

Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Women’s Quarterfinals Results:
HEAT 1: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 13.90 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.40
HEAT 2: Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.70 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.90
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.33 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.10
HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 16.26 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.97

Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Women’s Semifinals Matchups:
HEAT 1: Isabella Nichols (AUS) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)

Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.93 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 8.33
HEAT 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.40 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 7.10
HEAT 3: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 16.00 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.33
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.87 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.07
HEAT 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.93 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.83
HEAT 6: Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.93 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.80
HEAT 7: Conner Coffin (USA) 12.73 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.34
HEAT 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.07 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 9.14

Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Men’s Quarterfinals Matchups:
HEAT 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
HEAT 2: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)
HEAT 4: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)


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