The Wildcards Strike Back - Stab Mag
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Photo by WSL/Dunbar

The Wildcards Strike Back

World #2 goes swinging.

news // May 17, 2021
Words by Tim Hawken
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It was a day of shock losses and local glory on the second day at Rottnest Island. Tatiana Weston-Webb racked up a stone-cold last after her big event win at Margaret River, every wildcard except one got through their heats, and the local wildlife caused a brief pause in proceedings with a shark poking its tail into the lineup.  

The very first heat of the day saw Tati’s ignominious exit from the draw. Her tactic seemed to be to scratch for a few early scores after her slow heat yesterday. Patience was rewarded instead, with Nikki Van Dijk and wildcard Mia McCarthy easily getting the best waves to progress.

Down goes World #2. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

The same pattern emerged with Taj Burrow during his blockbuster against Griffin Colapinto and Jack Freestone. Having scored just a single 0.7 yesterday, Taj came out of the gates with a quick mid-range effort to build house before the shark made him cool his tools on the shore. When the heat resumed, Taj got another right straight away to rack up a good score. Luck ran against him though, because Jack and Griffin were left sitting out the back for the biggest set of the day. Both made the most of the gift with 7+ rides and Taj would never recover. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see him in competition again either, with the former world #2 admitting he hates the feeling of competing now and is lapping up being a ‘recreational surfer’. At least Taj now knows for sure he prefers being out in The Dark.

Once you go Dark… Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Tati, meanwhile, will be pondering what went wrong during her long ferry ride home, no doubt doing the maths in her head about throwaways and keeping in the top 5. While the loss ain’t great for the Brazilian/Hawaiian, she still has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd under her belt. The girls nipping at her heels like (Tyler and Caroline) don’t have that consistency and Steph is yet to crack a win. With Teahupoo coming up, which could be Tati’s pet event, she’s still in with a better-than-good chance at being in world title talks come September.

Continuing on with the event, Taj’s exit was the last for the wildcards when it came to the rest of the draw. Mia McCarthy had already made it through, with Stuey Kennedy, Liam O’Brien and Jacob Wilcox following suit. Wilcox was easily the local star of the day. He tore the bag out of the right from start to finish to top score the day with a respectable 13.5.

This kid is gonna break some veteran hearts. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

On the women’s side, that top honour went to Bella Nichols, who, along with a high-scoring Bronte Macaulay, dominated with solid power surfing. The other performance worth mentioning was Matthew McGillivray. He stayed strong under pressure, leaping from 3rd to 1st at the end of his heat with an insanely well-surfed 7.33. Jeremy Flores bore the brunt of that exchange, dropping out of the draw and no doubt jumping on the first plane home to reset. 

The slow swell got even slower as the day wore on, so officials jumped in to call it off before the next rounds kicked off. Looking at the forecast, Thursday should be one of the better days of the window and will likely be the next day we see any action. Plenty of space for us all to shuffle our Fantasy Surfer teams, only to second guess things and change them all again. Let the Search for the perfect lineup begin.

Griff will surf against Mikey Wright in the Round of 32. Who ya got? Photo: WSL/Dunbar.

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Women’s Elimination Round 2 Results: 
HEAT 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10.10 DEF. Mia McCarthy (AUS) 7.16, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 4.77
HEAT 2: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 13.33 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 13.10, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 9.23

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Women’s Round of 16 Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)  
HEAT 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)  
HEAT 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)  
HEAT 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)  
HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Mia McCarthy (AUS)  
HEAT 6: Isabella Nichols (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)  
HEAT 7: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)  
HEAT 8: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN)

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.16, Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.60
HEAT 2: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 12.23 DEF. Liam O’Brien (AUS) 10.90, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.10
HEAT 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.63 DEF. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.16, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 5.90
HEAT 4: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 13.50 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 8.90, Jadson Andre (BRA) 7.10

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Men’s Round of 32 Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Stuart Kennedy (AUS)  
HEAT 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Wade Carmichael (AUS)  
HEAT 3: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)  
HEAT 4: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA) 
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Liam O’Brien (AUS)
HEAT 6: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS)  
HEAT 7: Frederico Morais (PRT) vs. Michel Bourez (FRA) 
HEAT 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kael Walsh (AUS)  
HEAT 10: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)  
HEAT 11: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Alex Ribeiro (BRA)  
HEAT 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)  
HEAT 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)  
HEAT 14: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 
HEAT 15: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS) 
HEAT 16: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)

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