Five Surfers Were Cut From The Championship Tour Today - Stab Mag
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India Robinson was the sole rookie above the cutline pre-Margies. Unfortunately she's come up just short of qualifying for the back half of the year. Photo: WSL

Five Surfers Were Cut From The Championship Tour Today

One of them was a 14-year veteran.

news // Apr 30, 2022
Words by Chris Binns
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Competition runs from dawn-to-dusk in a Margaret River marathon. 

Business Time

  • Zeke Lau and Jacob Willcox get chippy in the warm-up
  • Three wildcards + Seth Moniz exit in the men’s elimination round
  • Tears in the keyhole as the mid-season cut finally arrives, five women fall
  • Every women’s world champ bounced as underdogs run rampant
  • Bronte Macaulay storms to the semis on a wave of hometown support
  • Sally Fitzgibbons gets booted from the CT after 14 years on tour

Regular programming resumes at Surfers Point

After endless thrills and spills at yesterday’s iteration of the Margaret River Pro, Saturday dawned as a slightly more sensible version of proceedings. Any worries about the swell vanishing overnight were allayed as competition got underway in highly functional and extremely consistent three-to-four-foot Mainbreak teepees, as soon as first light would allow. Two women’s elimination round heats saw local wildcard Mia McCarthy and world number 16 Bettylou Sakura Johnson depart the field, before three local wildcards – Jack Thomas, Ben Spence and Jacob Willcox – joined world number 11 Seth Moniz in leaving the men’s competition early. Samuel Pupo put on the one performance of note today from the men, more on Willcox later. 

From that point on it was woman-on-woman heats till dark and gosh did they deliver some wild results. Let’s investigate.

Steph is one of the few surfers who will smile even in defeat. Must be that “just made the mid-year cut” feeling. Photo: WSL

Come Ups

Peak performance: Bronte Macaulay, 15.5 points, Round of 16, Heat 5
Hit replay: Women’s Round of 16, Heats 3 and 5
Monster manoeuvre: Molly Fucken Picklum, Round of 16, Heat 3 
One liner: “Eat all your vegetables and write all of your dreams down, stick them to your wall and read them every day!” – Stephanie Gilmore to a cherubic young fan who asked what it would take to be like Steph when she grows up. 

“I want to buy land here!” – Isabella Nicholls, happily in WA, still searching for real estate in the post-cut CT field.

A whole heap of unlikely ladies put on stellar performances over a highly entertaining three rounds of action. While you might not know much about Gabriela Bryan, Molly Picklum, Isabella Nicholls or Bronte Macaulay, they did all they could to steal the thunder from the establishment and they did it on the back of courageous, back-against-the-wall showings. If you want to beat a world champ you have to smash them, or so the rule of thumb goes, and that’s just what this pack of powerful surfers did. 

The best turn of the day? It belonged to this girl. Photo: WSL

“My phone lit up straight away!” cackled Glenn “Micro” Hall at the lunch buffet, “Mick texted me instantly, Darren Handley, you name it!” Micro was referring to a blistering turn that Molly leant into with a few minutes left in her match-up with Tyler Wright, which seemed to draw its inspiration from some of John Florence’s carves 24-hours earlier. Driving her thin, rounded pin DHD through a tight arc that didn’t let up until she’d scythed her way to the base of the wave, Molly went hell for leather on a section she easily could have settled for a curvy seven on. Instead, a 9.17 lit up the scoreboard and not a single complaint was heard. The turn was sick and Tyler Wright could only shrug and start looking at flights home.  

Two heats later local wildcard Bronte Macaulay showed the advantages that come with surfing free from pressure. Where in her CT days Bronte might have elected to play it safe when chasing a five-time world and two-time MR Pro champion Carissa Moore, she too threw caution to the light nor-easterly. Fading harder than perhaps planned on her first wave, Bronte turned the delayed and drama-filled bottom turn into an explosive hammer the likes of which we’ve never seen her unleash in a heat before. An 8.17 resulted and suddenly Bronte and the huge hometown crowd were buzzing. The energy swung to camp Macaulay, and by the time she zipped across a smaller but shapely wall to add a 7.33 to her tally, Riss was left chasing a 9-point ride that seemed highly unlikely to appear. Less spectacular but perhaps more emotional, Bronte then bounced close friend Stephanie Gilmore in the quarters to book a wildly popular semi-final finish, and like that our three female world champs were banished from the West. 

Is it us, or are Pangs making a comeback in 2022?

In other upsets, Gabriela Bryan beat fellow Kauaian and defending champ Tatiana Weston-Webb, before accounting for Brisa Hennessy in the quarters, off the back of a startlingly powerful approach. Gabriela won last year’s Challenger Series to join the tour, so there’s no doubting her competitive nous, but to see a rookie smack the bejesus after multiple sections per wave was most refreshing, and bodes well for her future aspirations at the highest level, regardless of this current cut business that’s seemingly dominating everyone’s thought and prayer. 

The Wozzle just sent out a presser confirming the following ladies have survived the chop: 

  • Carissa Moore (HAW)
  • Tyler Wright (AUS)
  • Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
  • Lakey Peterson (USA)
  • Johanne Defay (FRA)
  • Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
  • Courtney Conlogue (USA)
  • Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)

Meanwhile, Bronte, Gabriela, and Isabella remain in the hunt for the two spots left, while Malia Manuel (knocked by Courtney Conlogue today) must bite her nails and wish evil upon the trio when competition resumes. Say whatcha will about the mid-season malarkey, it’s sure made ramped up interest in this week at Margaret River, and you can see why the West Oz government have locked-in being the “cut-stop” for the next few years, as Kelly Slater let out of the bag on a thoroughly entertaining live recording of Ain’t That Swell at Cowaramup’s mighty Beer Farm last weekend.

Sally’s had one hell of a career. Something tells us it’s not over yet. Photo: WSL

Let Downs

In the gutter: Sally Fitzgibbons’ glorious, unbroken 14-year run on the Championship Tour came to a halt today, as she lost to close friend Johanne Defay in a Round of 16 matchup that made for sombre viewing.
Blind mice: Nope, can’t do it. Despite a very long day with hundreds of waves to appraise, the judges weren’t noticed today, which is a good thing. Pat on the back to them for a tireless job well done. 
Say what? “Yesterday was huge. Seth Moniz is from Hawaii, he surfs Jaws, and even he said his heat was as heavy as it gets.” – Kelly Slater, minutes before Seth bowed out of competition while barely firing a shot. Here’s hoping all is okay for the charming Hawaiian prince. 

Once the women’s heats started, this was not a day for the top seeds. After we were done with the Elimination Round, Saturday was a red jersey bloodbath as defending event champ Tatiana Weston-Webb, then two-time world champ Tyler Wright,  five-time world champ Carissa Moore and seven-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore exited in quick succession. 

Gone, but not for good. Steph will see the back half of 2022. Photo: WSL

The sad story of the day was the untimely departure of Sally Fitzgibbons, who hasn’t missed a Championship Tour event since making her debut in 2009. Not only is Sally now relegated to chasing the Challenger Series, but missing the first women’s events at G-Land and Teahupo’o in recent history will surely sting for the woman who has tasted success at Cloudbreak in the past. Nobody felt great about the result, least of Sal’s lion-hearted opponent Defay, who in true French style paddled over at the final siren and gave her friend a kiss on the cheek. Sal’s pal Courtney Conlogue then gave her a long hug on the stairs, whilst the rest of us weren’t too sure how exactly to react, and let her quietly walk away. 

Bettylou Sakura Johnson, Luana Silva, India Robinson and Picklum all lost their tour spots as well today, though you feel these young guns, Johnson and Picklum in particular, all have long careers ahead. Expect smart returns via the Challenger Series over the months to come. 

Miscellanea

The day started with high-drama in the morning practice session after Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau dropped in on local wildcard Jacob Willcox, at his homebreak. With both surfers refusing to cede the way, the pair pulled off a string of successful if spiteful crossovers before Zeke kicked his board out and nearly took off Jacob’s head. Zeke claims it wasn’t intentional, Jacob claims he called Zeke a bully, and the video doesn’t clear much up at all. What will come of it? Who knows, but it wasn’t a good look, and seemed far nastier than the handbags-at-dawn scene that Mikey Wright and Jesse Mendes played out at North Point a few short years ago. Here’s hoping this is the last we hear of it, though it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the WSL make of it.

The Box broke consistently through the morning, but considering the long haul we needed to make the rest of the event manageable, a shift was never really on the cards. Expect a few clips on the Gram any minute, however.  The forecast looks small tomorrow and Monday, but is shaping up very nicely for Tuesday and Wednesday. Two more potential lay-days await, before a big finish, this time with the boys surfing for their second-half survival. Buckle up.

Jadson and his weird fins paid huge dividends today on Betonline.ag.

Gamble Ramble:

Mikey C had a good day on the punt (up the Jaddy!), barring the downfall of Carissa and Tati, who he had slated to win the event. Here are his official earnings from Betonline.ag. 

Elimination round:
– $25 on Jadson Andre at +500 to win $125 WON
– $10 on Caio Ibelli at -150 to win $7 WON
– $10 on Frederico Morais at +155 to win $16 WON
– $10 on Bettylou Sakura Johnson at +275 to win $28 LOST
– $20 on Lakey Peterson at -200 to win $10 WON

Round three:
– $5 on Gabriel Bryan to win $15 WON
– $30 on Johanne Defay to win $40 WON

Event winners
– $50 on Carissa Moore LOST
– $25 on Tatiana Weston-Webb LOST

Day 2 earnings: $128
Event earnings: $177

Next round picks will come when we have a better sense of the conditions.

Results

Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.50 DEF. Luana Silva (HAW) 11.73, Mia McCarthy (AUS) 7.50
HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 16.50 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 14.16, Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 11.54

Margaret River Pro Women’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 13.20 DEF. Luana Silva (HAW) 11.73
HEAT 2: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 11.30 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 10.93
HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) 15.10 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.97
HEAT 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.53 DEF. Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.46
HEAT 5: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 15.50 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.67
HEAT 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.67 DEF. India Robinson (AUS) 6.16
HEAT 7: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 9.94 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 9.67
HEAT 8: Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.66 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.83

Margaret River Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 12.50 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 11.60
HEAT 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.00 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 12.17
HEAT 3: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 8.90 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.80
HEAT 4: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.50 vs. Johanne Defay (FRA) 7.50

Margaret River Pro Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
HEAT 2: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs Isabella Nichols (AUS)

Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.20 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.67, Jack Thomas (AUS) 9.94
HEAT 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.63 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.50, Ben Spence (AUS) 10.53
HEAT 3: Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.90 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.00, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 10.74
HEAT 4: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 13.50 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 10.54, Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.73

Margaret River Pro Men’s Round of 32 Matchups:
HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Imaikalani deVault (HAW)
HEAT 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 3: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
HEAT 4: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
HEAT 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
HEAT 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Joao Chianca (BRA)
HEAT 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
HEAT 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 10: Nat Young (USA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 11: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT)
HEAT 12: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
HEAT 13: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 14: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
HEAT 15: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Lucca Mesinas (PER)
HEAT 16: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)

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