From Warty Frog To Steely-Eyed Prince, Punta Roca Transforms Before Our Eyes - Stab Mag
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Who's beating this guy tomorrow? Photo: WSL

From Warty Frog To Steely-Eyed Prince, Punta Roca Transforms Before Our Eyes

A very strange day in El Salvador.

news // Jun 17, 2022
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 7 minutes

There were hopes in all our hearts that the ocean would somehow manifest overhead, glassy canvases at Punta Roca, especially with today being the best window in the forecast. Instead, for most of the day, the lineup was lumpy, confusing, and unforgiving. Glimpses of fun flashed here and there but everyone agreed it wasn’t easy. 

And then, out of nowhere, it was absolutely firing. Like. Bells Beach firing. Lowers without the left. Maybe even J-Bay (just don’t tell Jordy we said that). Punta Roca finally presented us with the potential she’d been hiding all week. We only got a taste, but oh man was it sweet.

So, how did it happen?

TLDR

  • In the morning – and for most of the day – the waves still looked like your leftover TV dinner from 3 days ago. Barely palatable.  
  • In the space of an hour, the waves went from toilet bowl to Bells Bowl.
  • Caroline Marks defeats World #1 Carissa Moore to advance to the semis
  • Jack Robinson refused to bow to a powerful Jacko, but was eventually banished by Gabe
  • Kanoa has the most important faceplant of Griffin’s life
  • Filipe looks unstoppable, but the forbidden goofs are hovering like scavengers
Not exactly “Dream Tour” conditions. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Come-Ups

Peak performance: Jack Robinson in the morning, Griffin and Filipe after Neptune’s blessing
Hit replay: Mens Elim. H4, Mens R16 H1, Mens QF H2, H3, H4
Monster maneuvers:
– Jordy’s tweaked out straight air 
– Robbo’s last two waves against Jacko
– The entire Griffin-Kanoa heat
One-liners: “I saw the little double-up in front of me, and I figured I just needed to sit on the tail and go up and down.”  -Connor O’Leary on his 6.6 buzzer beater and the simplicity of backside surfing

The best parts of a morning filled with thumb-twiddling and horizon watching? Well…Kaipo is hilarious and we earnestly love him. Nothing like listening to him double-dog dare Strider (outfitted in board shorts and booties) to take a really big step on the slippery rocks. Also, it seems like he may be finally vexed by the unlimited and unsolicited Spanish lessons from Mitchell Salazar. We still appreciate you Mitch, especially for the complex translation of “helicóptero” to “helicopter.”

Truthfully, the ability of the surfers to make the conditions look anything but dreadful was the biggest come-up of the morning.

Bella’s QF heat saw the first sign of something special. Unfortunately, she’ll see no more after losing to Steph G. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Ethan looked imperious. Even on a morning of utilitarianism, where aesthetics fell to the wayside in lieu of just getting to the next section, Ewing maintained absolute composure and never looked strained. Are the judges finally scoring style? His 8.5 against Matty points to yes.

Jordy also looked potent. The tweaked straighty on his second wave against Nat had shades of Modern Collective. He followed it up with a few hammers and fist-pumped the subsequent 8.27 in what Joe Turpel called a “very meaningful claim.”  

Is there really such a thing? And if there is, does it usually happen in a sloppy, crumbly Round of 16 heat?

Jordy overcame Nat, courtesy of literally no more waves coming in the heat. Or the next three heats, really. 

Punta Roca fell asleep for about an hour, and only awoke for Marshall Mathers and Jacko’s heat. Jacko looked like he just realized he deserves to be on tour, delivering multiple flurries of lead-footed bashes that would have made Michel Bourez proud. Robbo looked lost at sea, until a stretched out wave fell into his lap and he dropped the highest score of the morning like it was nothing. An electric 8.83 to clutch the heat. Mom’s spaghetti.

Will the real Jack Robbo, please stand up. (We screenshotted this from the WSL, please don’t sue us Dirk)

Neptune’s Blessing

And then, the biggest come-up.

A bit more water on the cobbles, a bit less wind, and a whole lot of magic altered the course of this event, and epitomized exactly why so many of us have fallen in love with surfing. Unexpected good waves leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling in your stomach, and despite not actually surfing them, anyone who watched the end of this competition got a slice of that pie. We dare you to watch the quarterfinal — the deathmatch — between Griffin and Kanoa without enjoying yourself. We might even cautiously suggest that it was the best high-performance heat of the year.  

Good waves — really good waves — have been hard to come by the last few events, and this felt like a catharsis. For the surfers, the broadcasters, Jesse Miley-Dyer, and anyone associated with or interested in the WSL. A short lived catharsis, but a catharsis nonetheless.

Kanoa jumps for joy. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Regarding the specifics of the heats, Kanoa and Griffin exchanged gouges and blow-tails, 8’s and 9’s, like two world champions. Griffin advanced on the basis of an uncharacteristic faceplant from Kanoa, while completing a ride that very possibly would have gotten him the score he needed. It was probably the most important faceplant of Griff’s life.

Filipe Toledo sent Callum Robson back to school with surfing reminiscent of his past J-Bay wins. Not much needs to be said. He looks undeniable.

In her return event, Caroline Marks wore the title of “underdog” proudly, vanquishing world #1 Carissa Moore with textbook backhand surfing in their quarterfinal dogfight, and Lakey Peterson summoned a last-second wave from an empty horizon to overcome Courtney Conlogue.

Also, Steph G must have heard us compare her to Bella Nichols, because she squashed the grom in true 7-time world-champ fashion. Sorry Bella.

Steph got her share. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Let-downs

Caught behind: Miguel Pupo (hardly his fault though)
Blind mice: Judges had a tough job today, and did it well. That said, it was a bit cruel not letting Callum out of combo.
Say what?: “Did you know Josh Kerr invented the Kerrupt flip?” – Mitchell Salazar

Well, our biggest complaint is that we spent the first eight hours of our day watching a bunch of glorified gymnasts give each other swirlies. But, the afternoon glory mostly dissolved any real negativity we had brewing.

Mostly.

The overwhelmingly lumpy, soupy quality of the waves was impossible to ignore through most of the day. So too, were the lulls. Poor Miggy sat, nearly his entire heat, waiting patiently, like a puppy whose owner forgot about him at the park, and never got a look at anything but a ripple.

Josh Burke, our favorite Bajan, reckons he belongs on tour. We do too. Shame he couldn’t put it together against Italo. If he’d stomped that huge air reverse he might’ve done it. 

After attempting roughly three to four airs each heat, Sally Fitz almost put down 2 proper rotations to get the score against Johanne Defay. We were rooting for ya Sal. Even if it takes 186 tries, we believe in ya.

Pretty dismal. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Gamble Ramble

Mikey came out way in the red on Betonline.ag today, but the damage is not as bad as it first appears. 

Looking at the numbers, his losses mostly came from fallen event winner picks (-$60), which was inevitable this far into the event. He still has two surfers remaining for the event win (Griffin and Filipe), and if either of them should win, he’ll be back in the black. 

On today’s heat winner bets, Mikey went 4-4 and won $4 — which makes even less sense when you consider his W/L to +/- ratio yesterday. Makes you realize that betting really is just a numbers game. 

Event winner picks

– $101 on Filipe Toledo at +450 to win $455 ALIVE
– $20 on Jordy Smith at +6600 to win $330 LOST
– $15 on Kanoa Igarashi at +1600 to win $240 LOST
– $15 on Ethan Ewing at +1400 to win $210 LOST
– $10 on Griffin Colapinto at +2000 to win $200 ALIVE
– $10 on Samuel Pupo at +5000 to win $500 LOST

Today’s picks 

– $40 on Johanne Defay at -110 to win $36 WON
– $20 on Lakey Peterson at -120 to win $17 WON
– $20 on Jake Marshall at +115 to win $23 WON
– $30 on Jordy Smith at -150 to win $20 WON
– $30 on Josh Burke at +300 to win $90 LOST
– $30 on Kolohe Andino at -140 to win $22 LOST
– $20 on Samuel Pupo at -115 to win $18 LOST
– $10 on Isabella Nichols at +160 to win $16 LOST

Day 2 earnings: -$54
Event earnings: -$44

Not gonna lie, we’re sad to see E go. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League)

Results

Surf City El Salvador Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.60 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.00
HEAT 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.77 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.43
HEAT 3: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.03 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.56
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.20 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 12.66

Surf City El Salvador Pro Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
HEAT 2: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)

Surf City El Salvador Pro Men’s Round of 16 Results: 
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 17.76 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 15.17
HEAT 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.00 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.23
HEAT 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.73 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 7.10
HEAT 4: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.67 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.83
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.66 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 11.33
HEAT 6: Callum Robson (AUS) 11.83 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 8.30
HEAT 7: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.27 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 12.94
HEAT 8: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.73 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.43

Surf City El Salvador Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Results: 
HEAT 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.50 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 6.50
HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 17.60 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.20
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.67 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 10.57
HEAT 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.47 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 16.10

Surf City El Salvador Pro Men’s Semifinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

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