Surprise, The Comp Is On! - Stab Mag
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Surprise, The Comp Is On!

Gabby melts and Steph hits top form as the draw whittles down to the final series.

news // May 6, 2021
Words by Tim Hawken
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The forecast in the West wasn’t looking great last night, with a lot of people assuming another layday today. However, the Indian Ocean surprised this morning. A local rain storm pushed inland during the night and shifted the wind light offshore to clean up a building swell at Main Break. 

The men’s round of 16 was pushed out right away with overlapping heats. Double John did what John does best, relying on his power game to easily beat a lacklustre Peterson Crisanto. Griffin lit up the end section in heat 2 to make short work of Jeremy Flores, who couldn’t connect for any big scores. Jordy beat Julian in a slow affair and Ryan Callinan continued his epic form to dust off Freddy Morais for a place in the quarters.

That’s when the weirdness started to unfold. 

Down goes Medina! Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Heat 5 was Gabriel Medina vs Seth Moniz. On paper, it should have sparked lightning. However, things kicked off with an almost paddling interference and Gabby going over the falls to put himself totally off rhythm. Seth pegged up a mid 5, then Gabby found an easy 6. It seemed like things might settle. But Gabby was disconnected. Everything he took he wobbled on. Seth got another mid-ranger and left Gabby needing a 3.8. Easy pickings in 20 minutes for a world champ, right? Wrong. He just couldn’t do it. Gabby even melted with a few minutes to go, giving Seth a fun wave that would have easily been the score Medina needed. There was nothing else on the horizon and the heat petered out, leaving everyone wondering what on earth just happened. Brazil’s surfing cyborg short-circuited. Unheard of. Even Seth acknowledged the oddity in his post-heat interview.

“I got really lucky,” Seth said. “I got gifted that heat.”  

You have to wonder if Gabriel subconsciously self-sabotaged. Perhaps he wants to be pushed more coming into the final five, so he can generate some momentum into Trestles? Who knows. The fact remains, he’s out of the draw and Seth is in the semis. An epic result for the Hawaiian. 

Kanoa, where is your mind? Photo: WSL/Dunbar

The next heat was just as unusual. That same ghost in the machine that affected Gabby got into Kanoa’s head as well. He blatantly dropped in on Matthew McGillivray at the start of the heat. With that interference halving Kanoa’s second score, he was behind the 8-ball from the get go. Matthew McGillivray surfed solidly to rack up a keeper and Kanoa went into beast mode to see if he could fight back. He smashed one wave with reckless abandon, dropping a 7.83 that put him in the lead. His claim at the end of it was insanely entertaining. Kanoa looked like he had a power orgasm in his wetsuit, shuddering and flexing while screaming at the sky. If claims were scored, it would have been in the excellent range. But, claims weren’t enough. McGillivray dropped a second good wave and it was all over for Kanoa. A shame really, because all things being equal, Kanoa was the better surfer from siren to siren.  

Moving on from there, normal programming made a comeback. Italo stomped the first proper full rote of the event. The judges weren’t particularly impressed though, only dropping a 4. Italo shifted gears, going in, swapping boards and opting for a power approach. That hack and burn mentality saw him drop the top men’s score of the day. Caio Ibelli never stood a chance. In the final heat for the men’s, Filipe out-pizzazzed Jadson, setting up the quarterfinals. One of Fil’s fin wafts on the surgeon’s table is well worth a rewatch too. Hi-fi surfing on a high-stakes section. 

Fil couldn’t keep those fins in the water if he tried. Photo: WSL/Miers

After the men’s, the ladies took centre stage. Bronte Macaulay had the ocean work in her favour. She took an early lead with solid surfing, only to see Johanne washed into the lagoon with priority. Bronte capitalised with a back-up and set herself up for a heat win. It almost didn’t happen with Johanne clawing back at the end, drawing scores to even with the local girl. But, Bronte had the top single-wave score, so stayed in first and slid into the semis.

Tatiana put on the backhand performance of the day after Italo, hammering dual enormous hits for a 9.23. She backed it up with a 7 and took the W over Tyler. Before the event started, you would have thought Tyler was a top favourite as a previous event winner. Tati is running hot though. If she keeps up this form, she’ll be a sure thing for the final five come Trestles. The last ‘qualifying’ event is at Teahupoo too. A wave that will play into her hands given her forehand tube-riding skills. For now though, it’ll be a backhand blast off against Bronte when competition resumes.

Tyler’s blue jersey falls fittingly on the color spectrum. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Carissa was next to hit the water. There’s not much to write about there. She got a lazy 14.57 total without even breaking a sweat, never looking in doubt against Isabella Nichols. In an interview later, Steph noted the Hawaiian is easily the woman to beat.

“You’ve got to find a point of difference if you’re going to beat someone like Carissa,” Steph said. 

The 7x World Champ did find a point of difference in her heat too. She started attacking the lip instead of going for face carves. The judges lapped it up, awarding Steph the best single wave score of the day – a 9.5 for just two turns on a mid-sized set. If the semis are at Main Break, it will be amazing to see how that attack goes against Carissa’s carve game. Even more amazing — there are whispers the women’s semis and final might run at The Box alongside the men’s. Imagine Carissa and Steph going head-to-head in heaving pits! The best likelihood for that dream scenario is Monday. If today taught us anything though, it’s that forecasts are shaky at the best of times in West Oz. We’ll just have to do it the old school way. Show up every morning and see what’s in front of us. 

Until then, check out the draw and earmark your must-see matches. Griffin v John is a mind-bending one to start, especially if things go across the channel come game time…

Who’s gonna beat this guy? Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) 13.50 DEF. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 8.97
HEAT 2: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.66 DEF. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.33
HEAT 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.10 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.23
HEAT 4: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.86 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 10.36
HEAT 5: Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.84 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.53
HEAT 6: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 16.57 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.83
HEAT 8: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.83 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.47

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
HEAT 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results: 
HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 11.83 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.83
HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 16.23 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.17
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.57 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 10.33
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.73 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.17

Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)

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