Top Dawgs Fall And WSL Refuses To Acknowledge Its Ousted CEO - Stab Mag
It was a bad day to be a top seed. Photo: WSL/Diz

Top Dawgs Fall And WSL Refuses To Acknowledge Its Ousted CEO

Tight lips sink no ships.

news // Jul 1, 2023
Words by Pedro Ramos
Reading Time: 11 minutes

The world tour’s longstanding tradition of walking hand-in-hand with institutional sponsors along beaches lapped by mediocre waves predates the bygone “Dream Tour” era (may it rest in peace) by at least two decades.

However, particularly during the heyday of webcast surf contests, an argument presented to critics and skeptics of such venues was that, in order to be crowned world champion, a surfer needed to demonstrate excellence in all kinds of surf without exception — a fair assessment.

But if a title is wrenched from an amalgamation of performances in passable conditions, does it hold as much legitimacy as the ones obtained by other names in surfing’s roll of honor?

Regardless, and with the race for the Top 5 at stake, we find ourselves ziplining through the marrowless carcass we’ve been served for a tour. Again.

Here’s what happened on day 2 of the Vivo Rio Pro.

Heads did roll. This guy took two of them. Photo: WSL/Diz


– All but one of the Men’s Top 5 eliminated
– Wildcards deliver L-shaped packages to top seeds
– Carissa secures Final 5 spot
Elo’s marching orders remain unaddressed 

Women’s Elimination Round

Following a 6-day gastro-tourism break, which, for a privileged few, included private-jetting to the best waves of the week, a discombobulated ocean aka “big playing field” saw Molly Picklum easily dispatching Johanne Defay to advance into the quarters. 

In the remaining heat of the round, Caity Simmers’ ability to find and draw precise, undisturbed lines in wonky surf was sufficient to take down Tati and step into Top 5 territory. 

Think Johanne is stoked about the “changing of the guard”? Photo: WSL/Diz

Men’s Elimination Round

It appeared that Griffin Colapinto had parted ways with past inconsistencies this season, until he faced Jadson Andre in the men’s inaugural heat. Griff’s big backside full rotation was deemed incomplete after failing to get ahead of the whitewash: a valiant effort but not confidence affirming, which was visible in his following rides. Both surfers got very busy (each riding 11 waves) but Jaddy got the better end of the exchange by connecting a turn and an end section reentry for his highest scoring wave, a 7, which he promptly backed up with a similar ride, although ending it with a wallet drop. To the delight of the home crowd, Slater’s replacement wildcard advanced into the Round of 16.

One couldn’t help but feel (and hope) that Joe Turpel was trolling us by mentioning Kelly’s “illness” as the reason for his absence. 

Showing genuine motivation after his third place finish in El Salvador, an in-form Ian Gentil worked harder than Connor O’Leary to move forward into the draw with the day’s only excellent score on the men’s side, an 8. 

Just when Medina looked primed for one of his end-of-year title runs… Photo: WSL/Diz

A subdued Gabriel Medina was eliminated by last year’s runner-up and event wildcard Sammy Pupo, who looked at ease in the unruly lineup. Medina’s “magic” board didn’t look as magic today — it looked a bit thin and noticeably different from the girthier Cabiancas he’s usually on. As a last effort, the screwfoot pulled into a closeout barrel, reminding us that barrels are indeed, part of surfing. Has anyone gotten barreled since Callum Robson’s Peniche sand-drainer back in March? (Please don’t say the pool.)

According to an article on Oprah Daily, the all-red outfit Caio Ibelli chose to wear, “symbolizes passion, action, energy, happiness, authority, strength, and confidence.” But Barron Mamiya didn’t buy into any of that and made his intentions clear with a corked out forehand reverse and a solid back up wave, leaving Caio needing an excellent score to justify his sartorial decision. Mitchell Salazar and “Kaips”, as he now calls him, took the chance to plug Ibelli’s burger business in one of their several live mentions of food.

Young buck lookin’ the goods today. Photo: WSL/Smorigo

Jack Robinson paddled under Seth Moniz, blocking him from a left and therefore being penalized with a priority interference. Needing a single-wave score of 7.98 to advance, Robbo shamelessly tried to sell a very average two-turn wave to the judges via claim, which was met with an insufficient score and a bit of a tantrum on the beach. Another favorite drops out of the event.

While we watched a pre-recorded piece of Joe Turpel and Leo Fioravanti discussing whether fruit should ever go on pizza, the Italian meat-and-potatoed his way into the next round, beating former teammate Rio Waida, whose Olympic hopes were further dwarfed by Jordy Smith’s win over Matt McGillivray. In Pascuales, Al Cleland Jr. rubs his hands at the possibility of launching a respectable bid for a medal in Tahiti next year.

A visibly frustrated Callum Robson lost the final heat of the Elimination Round in a scrappy battle with Kanoa Igarashi. In his post-heat interview, a pressing question from influencer Rachel Apollonio: “Do you prefer açaí or churrasco?”

Imagine growing up surfing with one of your best friends, only to one day compete at the highest level against one another in front of your home crowd. Pretty special feeling. Photo: WSL/Diz

Men’s Round of 16

Stretching the patience of the viewers to the point of near rupture, Renato Hickel decided to ditch the overlapping format of the previous round, and good friends João Chianca and Samuel Pupo paddled their matching tattoos out to what Salazar was calling — to the dismay of members of North Narrabeen Boardriders — “Alley Rights”. Last year’s runner-up ended the worlds number 3’s campaign in front of his home crowd. 

Ryan Callinan couldn’t contain a giddy claim after pulling a video part worthy under-the-lip layback hack on a wave that Salazar compared to Sunset Beach, “but going left”. The single maneuver earned him a 7.67 and the heat lead. With a minute left on the clock, and needing a 5.58 to advance, Kanoa did his iteration of a layback on the outside section, and Huntington-hopped a very long ride to the sand in QS1000 style, claim and all. Even though his body language said yes, the judges gave him the thumbs down. A back-to-back appearance at Lowers now seems very unlikely.

With the same poise and solid approach he accustomed us to in tapering point break waves, Ethan Ewing was the only surfer in the Top 5 to survive today’s axing, leaving Seth Moniz in his wake.

Thunda thighs, thunda thunda thighs… Photo: WSL/Diz

“Have you seen him squat? Oh my gosh!” Turpel seemed fixated on Leo’s quadriceps today, which came in handy to traverse the flat section connecting the outside and the shorebreak in his heat against Jordy Smith. Coming from behind and under Jordy’s priority, Leo caught a wave to reposition, before paddling into a wedgy wall with seconds to go: big reverse, critical landing, unapologetic claim, 7.33. Clutch.

Losing to Jaddy in the dying moments of their heat, Toledo tried to save himself with a failed air reverse, injuring his knee in the process. An MRI revealed a minor tear in the cartilage but no ligament damage, meaning that no surgery will be required, and a combination of physio and meds should be enough to see him surf J-Bay. 

In a heat between ABG team mates, Yago Dora’s 7.17 score on a longer left made conditions look less terrible. Liam O’Brien was given no space from thereon. Commenting on The People’s Rookie loss to Yago, The Artist Formerly Known as Kaipo didn’t hold back on the eloquence: “Yago stuck to him like velcro, Yago stuck to him like flypaper, Yago stuck to him like Elmer’s glue. There’s a lot of ways to get stuck to your competitor and Yago stuck to him in all three ways.”

Is John…back? Photo: WSL/Smorigo

Likening the conditions to what he sometimes surfs in front of his island home, John Florence didn’t waste the opportunity to climb closer to the Top 5. His heat against Ian Gentil was possibly the most entertaining of the round, even if it feels wrong to use that adjective in today’s conditions.

Like John, Barron adjusted well to the conditions, easily extinguishing whatever fire Italo was trying to make from sticks or stones. The highlight (or lowlight) of the heat would’ve been Kanoa Igarashi being asked by Mayra how it felt to be tucked into those leg recovery boots following his loss. Not even feigning interest, Kanoa looked up from his phone for a condescending “Feels good.” before retreating back to its screen. Awkward.

Ngl, it’s kinda feeling like Tyler’s year. Photo: WSL/Smorigo

Women’s Quarterfinals

As the day was nearing completion, the swell was visibly on the rise. Tyler Wright came out guns blazing against Gabriela Bryan for an unsurprising heat win against the young Hawaiian..

With a debatable 8.33 towards the end of a heat dominated by Lakey Peterson, Caroline Marks moved into the lead and backed it with another solid score for her fifth consecutive presence in finals day.

Carissa was looking surefooted as ever and overall superior in the women’s side. She remains undefeated in every match-up against Bettylou Sakura Johnson who still gave her a good go. The all-Hawaiin affair saw the highest combined heat total of the day. 

A lot has already been said here, but the heat between Molly Picklum and Caity Simmers further reinforces the unanimous optimism pertaining to the future of women’s surfing. Caity advances after throwing herself into the biggest sets of the day with style and commitment. The section she attacked (and came close to making) on her final wave of the heat is well worth a rewatch. Might want to keep it in mind next time you think of straightening out too.

Not scared. Photo: WSL/Smorigo


Peak performance: Carissa Moore (15.33), Women’s Quarterfinals, Heat 3
Hit replay: John Florence (14.17) vs. Ian Gentil (9.10) Men’s Round of 16, Heat 7 (if you must)
One-liners: “It’s time for people to check out. They’re gonna be checking out of their hotel rooms.” – Strider with the only (even if subliminal) mention of yesterday’s news? 

With conditions most people wouldn’t cross the road to surf, Renato Hickel had no option but to run the contest, and spared us from having the habitual gas lantern dangling before our faces for the morning call. Hopefully this is an indicator that with leadership changes, the WSL will soon cease the infantilizing of its audience.

Jadson Andre and Samuel Pupo both had admirable performances. With the former taking down the number 1 surfer in the rankings twice today: first Griffin, and then Filipe (who had mathematically advanced to 1st), and the latter sending Gabriel Medina (5th) and João Chianca (3rd) packing. 

Carissa Moore is the first surfer to officially secure a spot in the 2023 Finals.

A crowd of 40,000 is reportedly making its way to Saquarema for finals day (tomorrow), and they’re promised sunshine, offshore winds and 6’ – 8’ faces. We’ll see.

Who you got for the W tomorrow? Our picks below. Photo: WSL/Smorigo


Caught behind: Italo Ferreira (7.26), Men’s Round of 16, Heat 8
Blind mice: Caroline Marks’ 8.33 looked a bit generous, Quarterfinals, Heat 2
Say what?: “Some really cool variation with this one single turn!”- Mitchell Salazar on Caity’s single turn on a wave.

CEO changes haven’t been uncommon since ZoSea’s acquisition of the ASP back in 2013, but it wasn’t until this event that we’ve witnessed an unprecedented overlapping CEO format.

Perhaps to avoid more water from entering the ship the Ziff’s are potentially selling, the commentary team was notoriously tight-lipped about the severance and whereabouts of their former SUP-enthusiast overlord, and aside from Filipe Toledo’s chest tattoo, there were no references to Erik Logan’s departure from the company.

Call it gossip or morbid curiosity, but in the absence of a better event, a massive itch was left to scratch.

Hope you didn’t bet on Medina today. Photo: WSL/Smorigo

Gamble Ramble

Fortunately, we can resolve this itch with (responsible) betting.

Today was an ok day for Mikey C…he went up $168 on heat bets, but then lost $240 due to event winner picks falling. He technically lost today but is still up overall, and should Yago, Samuel, or Caity win tomorrow, he’s looking at another solid showing in Brazil.

Women’s R2

$50 on Molly Picklum at -150 to win $33 WON
$50 on Caity Simmers at +110 to win $55 WON

Men’s R2

$100 on Sammy Pupo at +200 to win $200 WON
$50 on Kanoa Igarashi at -150 to win $33 WON
$50 on Rio Waida at -115 to win $43 LOST
$50 on Caio Ibelli at -200 to win $25 LOST
$50 on Jack Robinson at -200 to win $25 LOST
$50 on Matthew McGillivray at +155 to win $78 LOST

Women’s QF

$100 on Caroline Marks at -170 to win $59 WON
$30 on Gabriela Bryan at +240 to win $72 LOST
$30 on Bettylou Sakura Johnson at +250 to win $75 LOST
$50 on Caity Simmers at -105 to win $48 WON

Event winners
$20 on Joao Chianca at +2000 to win $400 LOST
$20 on Kanoa Igarashi at +2500 to win $500 LOST
$100 on Filipe Toledo at +300 to win $300 LOST
$100 on Molly Picklum at +700 to win $700 LOST

Day 2 earnings: $-72
Event earnings: $88

Filipe’s loss cost MC. Thankfully it didn’t cost Filipe an MCL. Photo: WSL/Diz

For tomorrow…

Men’s QF
$50 on Sammy Pupo at +100 to win $43
$50 on Leo Fioravanti at +200 to win $100
$20 on Barron Mamiya at +275 to win $55

Women’s SF
$50 on Caroline Marks at +100 to win $50
$30 on Caity Simmers at +200 to win $60

Event winners
$40 on Yago Dora at +3300 to win $1320
$20 on Samuel Pupo at +5000 to win $1000
$50 on Caity Simmers at +1200 to win $600

The Final 5 race is getting verrrrrry interesting. Photo: WSL/Diz


VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Elimination Round Results (Heats 3 – 4):
HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) 10.33 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 6.16
HEAT 4: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.73 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 7.66

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.60 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.33
HEAT 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.16 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.10
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.33 DEF. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 13.77
HEAT 4: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.40 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 10.30

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.30 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.30
HEAT 2: Ian Gentil (HAW) 13.50 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 11.83
HEAT 3: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 12.00 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 11.00
HEAT 4: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.73 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.34
HEAT 5: Seth Moniz (HAW) 7.97 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 6.33
HEAT 6: Jordy Smith (RSA) 8.57 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 6.20
HEAT 7: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.70 DEF. Rio Waida (INA) 9.27
HEAT 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.60 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 10.27

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 10.20 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 9.27
HEAT 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.50 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.20
HEAT 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.90 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 9.60
HEAT 4: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.66 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 11.76
HEAT 5: Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.07 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 10.40
HEAT 6: Yago Dora (BRA) 12.67 DEF. Liam O’Brien (AUS) 7.43
HEAT 7: John John Florence (HAW) 14.17 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 9.90
HEAT 8: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.14 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 7.26

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caitlin Simmers (USA)

VIVO Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
HEAT 3: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
HEAT 4: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)


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