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Déjà vu, anyone? Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

John Florence > Daylight > Everybody Else

Round 1 at Margies established the hierarchy.

news // Apr 29, 2022
Words by Chris Binns
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Round One of the Margaret River Pro wrapped today in monstrous conditions at Surfers Point. 

So, what happened?

  • The Fisheries Department patrol boat danced with danger
  • Tyler Wright remains “back”
  • Molly Picklum and Sally Fitz’s dreams live on
  • John John > daylight > the rest of ’em
  • João Chianca is/should be your new favourite surfer
Harvey Norman would go. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL

Fun, games, victory at sea etc.

Three lay-days after the women’s opening round of the Margaret River Pro was run in head-high, slow conditions, the men were today set loose on outrageously large Mainbreak. “It looks rather unruly,” said a wry Taj Burrow, staring out to the horizon at first light. “Yeah that’s not me,” laughed Tyler Wright, walking past with boards but no intention of surfing as she’d already progressed to round three, “where else can I go?” 

Taj had strayed 40 minutes south down Caves Road from Yallingup to coach rookie standout Callum Robson, who was to surf his first ever heat at Mainbreak as soon as the green light was given. Talk amongst the event crew was positive long before the sun came up, while chat in the competitor’s WhatsApp group was reportedly anything but. Taj’s “unruly” was generous, the surf was 10-foot plus and the light easterlies were doing little to smooth over the hangover left by three days of howling onshores. It was a mess, a big one at that, and with the mid-season cut lingering in the minds of many at-risk surfers there was division in the ranks. With nobody going home after round one though, why not roll on with the show? 

As Jessi Miley-Dyer filmed the call with Laura Enever the biggest set of the day bulldozed the line-up. The PV Hamelin, a Fisheries Department boat on hand to monitor various shark mitigation systems, was caught off guard and almost caught inside. Head judge Pritamo Ahrent called the biggest wave twenty-foot, which it may have been literally, just not in surfing terms. It was, however, a wild moment that got everyone’s attention, the set cleared the lineup of free-surfers (comprising comp guys and locals on 10-foot rhino chasers), and we were underway. 

Historically speaking, Kelly has been dangerous when the scarf comes out. Not so much today. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL

Come Ups
Peak performance: John John Florence, 15.6 lazy points to top the round in second gear.
Hit replay: Men’s R1, Heats 3, 11 and 12. 
Monster manoeuvre: John John Florence psycho gaff, 13-minute mark of Round One, Heat 4.
One liner: “I’ll have to talk to the fella who helps me out with my sports performance about that. It popped up mid-way through my heat, the boys got scores at the start and I only had a one and then copped a flogging. I guess the work I’ve been doing with him helped, ’cos I was able to pull that out of my head, stay positive and get an eight and then I knew I was back in it.” – Jackson Baker on eliminating thoughts of the mid-year cut thanks to the work he’s been doing with a mind coach. 

Rights were well and truly the order of the day, despite the inherent risk of getting caught in the evil washing machine of death that exists between Mainbreak and the next peak south, Southside. Robson obviously enjoyed 1997 Margaret River winner Burrow’s advice, as he never once doubted himself and took the win in the day’s opening stanza, while setting the formula for success: 

  • Catch a bomb if you have priority. 
  • If you don’t have priority stay active and try to catch a medium-sized insider (something under double-overhead), bash out a solid turn or (two if fortunate) then hightail it over to the jetski. 
  • If executed well this can be a three-minute exercise that puts five or six very valuable points in the bank, and puts that most awful of terms, “scoreboard pressure” on your opponent. 
  • If this is executed twice, you’ve most likely won your heat.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, John John doesn’t need a game plan beyond simply surfing when it comes to Margaret River. He won here in 2017 and 2019, he was on his way last year till he buckled his knee, and from the moment he hit the water today he proved once again he’s in another realm at this trickiest of waves. 

“I like going fast and doing big turns,” John told me afterwards, “and this place is good for that.” John rides his unique Pyzel Ghost (today’s even had WA written in the dims), but thinner than anyone who’s ever ordered one then complained they couldn’t turn it. He also rides them shorter than you’d imagine, today he was on a 6’2”, when 6”4” seemed to be the theme of the day. Given John’s taller than most of his peers that makes his boards even shorter still, relatively speaking. He won his heat over Luca Messinas and Jacob Willcox in a canter, and God help the field when he decides to put the foot down. 

Who else looked good? Zeke Lau, Ryan Callinan, Filipe Toledo, Ethan Ewing, Connor O’Leary and Griffin Colapinto all looked good. 

Griff, worthy of onomatopoeia. Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

Let Downs

In the gutter: Miguel Pupo was one of a few surfers whose body language stunk in the jersey today. Sitting in the Top 10 for once, the eternal bubble-dweller shouldn’t let himself get upset by the plight of his current countrymen and cut candidates and should just keep surfing his heart out, even if conditions aren’t immaculate.
Blind mice: Italo Ferriera’s 7.5 to take a come from behind win over Jake Marshall in the last moments of their matchup was very generous. The Californian rookie hit the beach with steam coming out of his ears.
Say what? “Do I deserve to be in the Top 22? That’s not for me to say. All I can do is surf and be in the moment.” – João Chianca, post-heat to a Wozzle crew filming for who knows what. João rips and this was a beautiful line, it just sucks to think he might be leaving us already.

If you were watching online today maybe things didn’t look great, but if you were sitting in amongst the big crowd on the point and in no away associated with the surfing machine, then you probably had a bloody wonderful time. Are we as surf fans (and/or professional competitive surfers) a bit too quick to complain? Earlier in the week the men saw the slow opening round women’s heats and said they’d rather surf big onshore stuff. Today they were put out in wild and wooly conditions and there were bottom lips being tripped over everywhere. Yes, careers are on the line, but a heat win or loss today is worth as much as the shocker you had in pumping waves in round three at Bells a couple of weeks ago, and it can’t always be four-foot and flawless wherever we go. 

Jay “Bottle” Thompson and Matty McGillivray of Make Or Break fame. Photo: Aaron Hughes/WSL

Miscellanea
The Aussie coaches – Tom “Chom” Whitaker, Glenn “Micro” Hall, Jake “Snake” Paterson, Jay “Bottle” Thompson, Andy “Kingy” King et al. – all bloody love this event when it gets wild. It reminds them of the QS glory days when they’d surf out here no matter what was on offer. Seeing the modern, finely tuned pro having to cop 10-footers on the head, scramble to sort out their step-ups, and suddenly look somewhat underprepared gives these guys a real perverse pleasure. It also fills them with immense pride when their charges follow instruction, find the formula, and get the job done.

There were a lot of iconic Hawaiian shaper Glenn Pang step-ups being ridden today. “Sunset was only a couple of months ago,” said Micro, “so they’ve all got them still, and brought them over. I don’t know what he does but those things are magic.” 

After the final heat the WSL put the first episode of Make Or Break up on the big screen, for the punters to enjoy. It was a hit. 

Meanwhile the bulk of the women’s field paddled out to tackle the still pulsing lineup. They were joined by Kelly Slater, who broke a board, came all the way back to the locker room to grab another, and paddled out once again. It can’t really be all that bad then, can it? See y’all tomorrow for more of the same, a bit smaller surely, hopefully a little bit more refined. Beauty.

Gamble Ramble:

Mikey C’s day looked like this, courtesy of Betonline.ag:

– $100 on JJF at -435 to win $24 WON
– $10 on Seth Moniz at +225 to win $23 LOST
– $10 on Griffin Colapinto at +175 to win $18 WON
– $10 on Jackson Baker at +165 to win $17 WON
– $5 on Deivid Silva at +500 to win $25 LOST
– $50 on Filipe Toledo at -200 to win $25 WON
– $10 on Lakey Peterson at +125 to win $13 LOST
– $10 on Gabriela Bryan at +425 to win $43 LOST

Round 1 total: + $49
Event total: + $49

Round 2 picks:

R2 picks are as follows:
– $25 on Jadson Andre at +500 to win $125
– $10 on Caio Ibelli at -150 to win $7
– $10 on Frederico Morais at +155 to win $16
– $10 on Bettylou Sakura Johnson at +275 to win $28
– $20 on Lakey Peterson at -200 to win $10

Doesn’t he look spectacular in yellow? Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL

Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Callum Robson (AUS) 12.17 DEF. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 10.00, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 9.83
HEAT 2: Jackson Baker (AUS) 12.03 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 10.77, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 10.17
HEAT 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.00 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.37, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.20
HEAT 4: John John Florence (HAW) 15.60 DEF. Lucca Mesinas (PER) 8.93, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 8.44
HEAT 5: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.10 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 8.50, Ben Spence (AUS) 7.70
HEAT 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.00 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.63, Jack Thomas (AUS) 6.90
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.17 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 13.26, Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.17
HEAT 8: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.70 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 10.90, Deivid Silva (BRA) 7.63
HEAT 9: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.80 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.90, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.24
HEAT 10: Joao Chianca (BRA) 12.43 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.87, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 6.27
HEAT 11: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.33 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.17, Seth Moniz (HAW) 6.50
HEAT 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 14.07 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 11.47, Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.43

Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Jack Thomas (AUS)
HEAT 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) vs. Ben Spence (AUS)
HEAT 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
HEAT 4: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)

Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Luana Silva (HAW) vs. Mia McCarthy (AUS)
HEAT 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)

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