No Airs Allowed - Stab Mag

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If anyone needs an 8.17, John happens to be throwing one away. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL

No Airs Allowed

A very Good Friday for power surfing: Rip Curl Pro Bells, Day 5.

news // Apr 15, 2022
Words by Tim Hawken
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Let’s get straight to it…

  • The men’s quarters and women’s semis have been decided at Bells.
  • John John shows his dominance again with a 17.77 point total in Rnd 4 Heat 3.
  • Judges cook Mick Fanning, letting down old people everywhere.
  • Tyler lets out a war cry 9.0 to spark fear in her competitors.
  • Ex Bells Champ Sally Fitz drops out of the draw, perhaps ending a stellar career.
Bottom’s up, Courtney. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL

Raw Power Wins

Old-school power surfing was the order of the day at champagne Bells as soon as they played AC/DC this morning. Owen Wright and Nat Young opened up in a battle to see who could most channel their inner Occy. Ethan Ewing’s stylish power surfing made coaches everywhere take note — seems like he finally figured out how to get it done in a heat. Filipe sliced Connor O’Leary from the draw. John John went absolutely ham and Jack Robbo annihilated an in-form Imai Devault. Tyler Wright led the charge on the women’s side with surfing that could only be described as savage.

There was nary a ‘progressive’ move in sight, apart from Kolohe spinning things up to a loss and Sammy Pupo throwing out an air reverse in the shorey that also didn’t get him the score. It set the tone for what could be an epic finals day tomorrow.

To summarize, there were more meat carves than at a butcher shop on Sunday. 

Ethan, slicing instead of dicing. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL


Peak performance: John John R4H3, 17.77 
Hit replay: Pretty much all of mens R4. QTR 2 of the womens.
Monster maneuver: John’s Hammer of Thor layback, 30 secs into H3 (condensed heat rply) 
One-liner: “I don’t even know what I did, I just let it all out…” – Tyler on her chest-beating celebration after her 9.0 in the quarters.

In a day full of action there are plenty of highlights to talk about. John John’s wraps and laybacks had the judges throwing excellent scores like confetti. His opener was the best — a 9.07 that would have had him top his competitor’s entire heat score after the first two turns. Poor old Morgan Cibilic was left scratching his head, trying to drag up memories of their “rivalry” last year when he beat John twice. He’s now looking like he’ll go from top 5 in 2021 to not making the mid-year cut this season. A heavy turn of events for one of Australia’s great hopes.

On the women’s side it was all Tyler Wright. Back to her form of old, Tyler relied on her trademark layback to trounce Bronte Macauly, who opened well but couldn’t back it up. Tyler built throughout the entire heat, finishing with a 9 that had her beating her chest and screaming to the surf gods in celebration.

There were three other mens heats where heat totals topped 16+ points, too. That’s a lot of excellent waves to replay, so I’d simply say rewatch the whole thing. If you want to be ultra discerning, then tune into Filipe’s precise display in the back half of his heat, and Jack Robbo’s 8.43 finisher to dust off Imai Devault. He should bring back his bowl cut to celebrate doing well in the Bells bowl. The new mullet, maybe? 

Michael Eugene got X’d. Photo: Beatriz Ryder/World Surf League


In the gutter: Morgan Cibilic R4H4 7.83pts.
Blind mice: The judges cooked Mick, letting down old-people everywhere.
Say what?: “Neither of us were in a good rhythm for the heat…it was really slow” – Morgan about his heat against John John (who scored 17.77 and threw away an 8.17 and 6.67 as well)

The big let down of the day was also one of my favorite heats to watch. Mick absolutely destroyed his 100th CT heat at Bells with style that made old people like me jump to their feet (carefully, so as not to strain the lower back) while remembering the good old days. He “only” scored 14 points, but the breeze of nostalgia made it feel like White Lightning got 18+. Piss poor judging from the panel in my book. Poise counts! You can’t take anything away from Callum Robson, though. He surfed his last wave like a trooper to get the score. Someone put a sticker on that kid’s board, please.

On the lower side of performances, unfortunately, Morgan has to take the cake. I’ve already mentioned him so won’t dwell too much, but it’s a sign of how rattled he was when he blamed ‘slow waves’ on his loss. John threw away an 8.17 and a 6.67. It definitely didn’t look slow watching him.

It’s also a bummer to see some incredible careers seemingly fade out in the background with this mid-season cut. Sally Fitz fought well against Courtney with a pair of 6s, but to have a multiple Bell ringer and former world #2 quietly exit is heartbreaking. Unless she finds a miracle at Margaret’s, it could be the end of her World Tour life. Even Steph is sitting on the bubble after her close loss against Carissa. She’s in less trouble than Sally, but Australia could see their two golden girls either hit the Challenger Series, or hit retirement by the end of next month.


Trust in (surf forecasting) institutions is plummeting, folks. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL


Other than the surfing, there’s one thing that was on everyone’s lips during the event. The forecast. Before this thing started, there were calls that there might not be a single heat surfed in the Bowl this year. It’s been pumping! Seriously, will we ever trust Magic Seaweed or Surfline again?

Hindsight is 20/20, but even without bifocals it’s now easy to say the early rounds should never have been run in sub-par conditions, especially those crucial eliminator heats. Emotions are only going to run hotter coming into Margies where the mid-year guillotine is preparing to fall, despite threats of protests from the surfers

Tomorrow looks good, too. Sunday/Monday should even have waves if that doesn’t happen. With just a handful of heats remaining, it’s almost certain this year’s event will end in epic conditions.

Easter weekend at Bells, otherwise known as Victorian heaven. Photo: Beatriz Ryder/WSL

Gamble Ramble

Mikey C’s Round 4 picks on

Imaikalani Devault over Jack Robbo (I bet $10 to win $17) LOSS -10
Filipe Toledo over Connor O’Leary (I bet $100 to win $25) WIN +$25
Callum Robson over Mick Fanning (I bet $25 to win $42.50) WIN +$42.50
Samuel Pupo over Italo Ferreira (I bet $50 to win $125) LOSS -$50 
Stephanie Gilmore over Carissa Moore (I bet $10 to win $12.50) LOSS -10

Day 4 Total: -$2.50
Total event Win: $249.50

Owen Wright, punching his ticket to Finals day. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL


Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.40 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 15.77
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.27 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 9.10
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.26 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.00
HEAT 4: John John Florence (HAW) 17.77 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 7.83
HEAT 5: Callum Robson (AUS) 14.50 DEF. Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.27
HEAT 6: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.76 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.90
HEAT 7: Jack Robinson (AUS) 16.04 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 14.53
HEAT 8: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.40 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 15.13

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
HEAT 3: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 4: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.57 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.93
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.17 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.07
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.67 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.53
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Semifinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)


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