Fantasy Teams Left Limping By Day 4 at Rottnest Island
Steph’s out, Caroline stumbles, Filipe falls to an accountant!
Steph Gilmore, Caroline Marks, Courtney Conlogue, Ryan Callinan, Griffin Colapinto, Kanoa Igarashi and Filipe Toledo all went into their heats today as solid favourites. They all lost. In a blow to Fantasy Surfer teams the world over, the upsets just kept coming all day. It felt like there was some kind of island juju happening, where the energy at Rottnest was rewarding those who grew up on chunks of rock in the ocean. Hawaiians like Malia, Carrissa and Seth all won. Tahiti’s Michel Bourez won. Reunion Island’s Johanne Defay absolutely dominated. Philip Island’s Nikki Van Dijk beat Steph. Even Japan’s Amuro Tszuki came from nowhere at the end of her heat to post an excellent score and jump into the lead. It was a full display of Island Power from start to finish.
There were other interesting patterns to tease out from the day as well. Tyler Wright, Owen Wright and Mikey Wright all got through. The Wrights have mostly struggled during the Australian leg, but it looks like the three siblings may have collectively turned their fortunes around. Perhaps the family that stays together slays together. Tyler especially will be looking at the women above her on the ratings. World numbers 2,3 & 4 are all out of the draw. Tyler is in #5, Sally is at #6, Johanne at #7 and Isabella at #8. That top cut-off discussion could get a whole lot more exciting in the over the next couple days.
A few fellow Aussies also saw a return to form. Julian Wilson looked like the Joycey of old, posting his first excellent wave score for the year — an 8.33. Connor O’Leary capped the last heat of the day with the highest heat score – a very solid 15.6. Wildcard Liam O’Brian was the giant killer who took down Filipe though. The guy looks like an accountant but surfs like a monster. He could have a few other people’s numbers by the time the comp ends.
The Brazilian storm cut a path of destruction across the heat draw all day too. Italo looked like an energiser bunny, packing in zillions of snaps on everything he took. Gabby cruised past Kael Walsh surfing in 2nd gear. Miggy continued his epic form from round one to progress over fellow countryman Caio Ibelli. Yago Dora for me is the Brazilian dark horse of this event though. His speedy blowtails lit up the late afternoon lineup. Considering he’s yet to pull out his biggest weapon with airs, Yago could be a major threat for the podium.
One of the coolest performances in the Brazilian camp came from someone who wasn’t even in the draw. Jadson Andre was eliminated early, yet still got up at the crack of dawn to be one of the first on the event site to cheer on his compatriots. That kind of heart has to be recognised. Brazilian passion is a big reason why there are so many of them on tour, and why so many are hunting for the scant top 5 men’s spots. Passion breeds performance. Even Adriano’s wife set her alarm for a 4am wakeup call up on the other side of the world to watch her partner’s heat win. Something for other countries to look at and take inspiration from (Australia? America?).
Jadson’s out of the water heroics was just one talking point from the happenings on land at the event. Ryan Callinan proposed to his now fiancé (she said yes!). R Cal took those positive vibes into his heat and looked incredible, but Leo pulled out a buzzer beater to throw spray on that parade. Sage Erickson crashed her bike riding home from the surf in the dark last night too. She suffered a gash on her chin that needed 4 stitches, plus a bunch of other bumps and cuts. Sage sucked it up and surfed well this morning, but Tyler was too good and sent her crashing from the draw.
The talk now turns to the forecast and what’s going to happen for the rest of the window. The swell is set to drop super fast tomorrow. If it holds enough we may see a chance of some heats. However, a big storm is going to batter Rottnest all weekend. There will be plenty of waves but with that comes wind from exactly the wrong direction. With luck, the breeze will settle and the ocean will stay alive for a good day of surf by Tuesday. If Margaret River taught us anything about forecasts in West Oz though, it’s that anything can happen. Keep checking in and showing up. The finals are yet to come.
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