Wildcard Beats World #1, Owen Wright Retires & The GOAT Stumbles - Stab Mag
We haven't heard much from John this event. “Beware the quiet man. For while others speak, he watched. And while others act, he plans. And when they finally rest… he strikes.” Photo by WSL

Wildcard Beats World #1, Owen Wright Retires & The GOAT Stumbles

Bells Day 2 recap: Slater needs a miracle at Margaret River.

news // Apr 9, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Surfline called it orange, Richie called it angry, JMD called it “fairly sizable with a bit of wind.”

I’d call it pub weather. It’s no secret that Bells almost always runs over the public holiday regardless of surf quality to net the Easter crowd/please partners, but with careers on the line re: mid year cut perhaps the Woz would have a change of heart? Nah. They sent competitors on their egg hunt in the soupy double-overhead Bells bowl without hesitation. The men’s and women’s elimination rounds ran first, the men’s round of 32 after.

My initial thoughts were, ‘Woz, you bad bunny’ however it proved to be the right call in the end. Heaps of action, tons of opportunity and a couple big upsets. 

Yeti cooler coming your way JMD.  

Kanoa beat Kelly and then grabbed his fist bump. Awks.


  • Owen Wright retires, eyes swell on the Bells staircase
  • World number #1 Jack Robinson tweaks knee, goes down to local wildcard Xavier Huxtable
  • Kelly Slater loses to Kanoa Igarashi, will need a miracle at Margies to make cut
  • Connor O’Leary, John Florence, Yago Dora and Griffin Colapinto in 15+ point club
  • Johanne Defay and Brisa Hennessy get eliminated

Elimination Round

With a messy ocean, you got the feeling IQ would play a major role in determining the winner of the first heat of the morning. It might have. LOB put north of six points between himself and Callum Robson and Zeke Lau. There’s plenty of evidence of LOB’s vast intellect, who scored a near-perfect result in his final exams despite attending a school famous for producing criminals and teen pregnancies. It was enough to get him into medicine but he chose engineering instead, which he’s put on hold while he gives the World Tour a tilt. Did you see the words he cobbled together in a game of scrabble in Make or Break S1? (Quark, equine, azure – amazing). 

Big brain words.

Today, he weaponised his gray matter to predict which waves he could play whac-a-mole on at the Bells bowl in the elimination round. LOB banked a 6.17 and an 8.17, while Cal and Zeke failed to reach double-digits heat totals. It took over 12 minutes for the judges to lock in a score for LOB’s first wave, something the Woz attributed to technical issues they later resolved with an old fashioned Russian reboot (a kick to the generator). Zeke snuck through in second. 

Kelly got the highest heat total of his season so far — a flat 12 points. He needed a win in the elimination round and he got one. He did not in the following round of 32, and now needs a miracle in Margaret River to make the mid-year cut. “It reminded me of the beginning rounds of 2008 against Adriano De Souza, also that heat I had with Shane Beschen in the mid-90’s where I got cleaned up…” recalled Slater post-heat interview. The hard-drive recall was impressive.

Didya know they make rookies wear that label on the sleeve? Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL

Caity vs Brisa vs Kobie was a slow heat with most scores falling in the low to mid range. Ultimately Brisa got eliminated by the rookie and the wildcard. “My mum used to play tennis and she always needed to be behind to play better. Maybe I’ve got some Mum in me. The trees outside my window were bending in half this morning, and then in the freesurf I almost got sucked into Winki. Shoutouts to the jetski guy who picked me up,” giggled Caity post-heat. Yes, she’s the best. 

Tyler Wright and Tatiana Weston-Webb easily dispatched of Johanne Defay in the second heat with sure-footed surfing on big, unruly foam monsters. Tyler’s commitment on her shore break rebound was mental, she got smoked.

Men’s round 32 (Overlapping heats)

Joao Chianca extinguished any hopes of Zeke making the cut as soon as the horn blew. The speed and energy he carried on his first wave was remarkable, blasting the outside section with a huge finner and backing it up with three turns for a 7.67. His ability to generate/maintain speed through his turns is incredible. A huge turnaround for the 2022 cut casualty, now in second place on the rankings with a CT win under his belt.

Zeke put himself back in the mix momentarily with a 5.83 and then fell off a stationary ski.

As the suspense built we cut to a shot of Sally Fitz in the Harvey Norman booth telling Hodge, “awwwyeahwe’rejustdownherewiththekidsandtheparentsspeadingsomefestivecheer.” It was chaotic. We cut back to surfing and Zeke is being handed a L and a 17th (his equal best this season). 

O Wright vs Ethan Ewing was kind of the perfect bookend to Owen’s competitive career. Two Aussies at very different stages of life. Owen surfed well but in the end Ethan’s rail game proved too strong. “I’m so stoked to finish this chapter. I’ve had a wild career and to share it with all my friends and family means everything. It feels like I blinked and 12 years passed me by,” he said after being chaired up the beach. I found it interesting his standout moment was his 10 at the Box, as opposed to his 4 CT wins (including his comeback win at Snapper), Olympic bronze, or his perfect 20 heat in Fiji. We’ll have a more detailed piece to come on his plans in the future (fingers crossed he’ll be submitting a SEOTY entry).

Quark yeah Owen. Photo: Beatriz Ryder/WSL

The next three heats were slow: Gabe Medina beat Baz Mamiya, Filipe beat Morgz Cibilic, Jordy beat Seth Moniz all with sub 11-point heat totals. Yago Dora injected some energy with the biggest score of the day, an 8.50 for a huge downcarve to under-the-lip re-entry.

The Dora energy proved not to infect his teammate World #1 Jack Robinson, who was beaten by local wildcard Xavier Huxtable in the biggest upset of the day. Robbo pointed toward his left knee after trudging up the beach (we’ll keep you updated on the prognosis). Xavier was elated after taking down the best surfer of ’23 so far and came across like a legend in his post-heat interview. *Queue fantasies of an Adam Robertson 2009 repeat*.

Side note: Victoria hasn’t produced a male CT surfer since Nic Muscrof way back in 2009 (a very good year for the education state).

*Longest yeah boy ever*. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL


  • Peak performance: Griffin Colapinto R32H16 (17.00 points)
  • Hit replay: R32 (H1, H3, H7, H8, H10)
  • Monster maneuver: Yago Dora 8.50
  • One-liner: “My mana is tingling. It’s real, it’s quantifiable.” – Kaipo 

Maxime Huscenot won his first heat today. “This is actually my first interview, so I’m really stoked to do one,” he laughed. The Frenchman put on an awesome showing against Caio Ibelli, racking up 13.50 points for some big turns. The highlight was his interview though, very cute. 

Kelly Slater has surfed against seven well-defined generations. 1. Horan-Carroll generation, Curren-Occy-Pottz-Elko- Barton-Derek generation, Kelly’s generation, Taj-Bobby-Andy-Joel-Mick generation, Jordy-Owen-Julian-Dane Reynolds generation, Medina-Florence generation and the Ethan-Griffin generation. Today he lost to Kanoa Igarashi, and by extension, has put his hopes of making the cut at next-to-nil given his track record in WA. “It sucks, I’ve been in a slump for about a year,” said Kelly in the Athletes lounge. He sounded genuinely dissapointed, not like someone at peace relinquishing his spot on tour.


When will Kelly let go? Or does it need to be taken from him? Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL


  • Caught behind: Rio Waida 8.94 heat total in the ER.
  • Blind mice: Interviews while surfing is going on.

The hopes of seeing a meltdown peaked at the end of the Italo Ferreira vs Michael Rodrigues heat, with Italo taking off prone with five seconds remaining and then completing three turns chasing a low score. Probably would’ve got it too buuuuttt because his hands didn’t leave the rail before the horn blew, it was deemed a no-score. He threw his hands up to appeal as M Rod paraded at the bottom of the stairs. In the end, no judges towers were harmed. Boo. 

Kolohe is almost certainly doing the Challenger Series this year. After going down to travel companion John Florence, Brother will also need a miracle in West Oz to stay on tour. Everything changes, everything ends, and after 13 CT seasons it’s (overwhelmingly likely) back to slogging out four-man heats.

“Italo’s beat me the past three times. I’m so stoke-ed to get one over him,” laughed M Rod as Italo bordered on a tantrum. Photo: Ed Sloane/WSL


Thank baby Jesus for waterhorses.

Hot take: I reckon Griffin got overscored on both his waves in his last heat (it wouldn’t have changed the outcome).

Gamble Ramble

Mikey C is in the green today, despite betting incomprehensibly against Jack Baker for the second time in this event.

Women’s R2

  • $20 on Brisa Hennessy at +165 to win $33 LOST
  • $20 on Johanne Defay at +350 to win $70 LOST

Men’s R2

  • $20 on Liam O’Brien at +200 to win $40 WON
  • $20 on Barron Mamiya at +230 to win $46 WON
  • $100 on Connor O’Leary at +125 to win $125 LOST
  • $20 on Ian Gentil at +185 to win $37 LOST

Men’s R3

  • $50 on Sammy Pupo at -125 to win $40 LOST
  • $200 on Ethan Ewing at -215 to win $94 WON
  • $20 on Barron Mamiya at +240 to win $48 LOST
  • $200 on Filipe Toledo at -300 to win $67 WON
  • $20 on Seth Moniz at +160 to win $32 LOST
  • $50 on Leo Fioravanti at -125 to win $40 LOST
  • $10 on Xavier Huxtable at +375 to win $38 WON
  • $25 on Michael Rodrigues at +240 to win $60 WON
  • $10 on Zeke Lau at +205 to win $21 LOST
  • $20 on Kolohe Andino at +300 to win $60 LOST
  • $100 on Kanoa Igarashi at -135 to win $74 WON

Day 1 earnings: $124

Day 2 earnings: $109

Overall event earnings $233

Women’s R3

$50 on Macy Callaghan at +200 to win $100
$50 on BLSJ at -115 to win $43
$20 on Isabella Nichols at +200 to win $40
$20 on Sophie McCulloch at +250 to win $50
$15 on Kobe Enright at +375 to win $56
$30 on Gabriela Bryan at +250 to win $75
$50 on Tatiana WW at +100 to win $50
$20 on Lakey Peterson +145 to win $20

Place your bets here. 

Byyyyeeeee. Photo: Beatriz Ryder/WSL


Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Joao Chianca (BRA) 13.94 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.76
HEAT 2: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 11.77 DEF. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 11.60
HEAT 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.83 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.66
HEAT 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.67 DEF. Barron Mamiya (HAW) 7.33
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 9.27 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 8.43
HEAT 6: Jordy Smith (RSA) 9.33 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.50
HEAT 7: Yago Dora (BRA) 15.17 DEF. Dylan Moffat (AUS) 11.30
HEAT 8: Jackson Baker (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.16
HEAT 9: Xavier Huxtable (AUS) 13.43 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 10.07
HEAT 10: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.73 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 11.76
HEAT 11: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 10.10 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 9.83
HEAT 12: John John Florence (HAW) 15.83 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.50
HEAT 13: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 13.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.44
HEAT 14: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.37 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 12.60
HEAT 15: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 13.93 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.43
HEAT 16: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 17.00 DEF. Liam O’Brien (AUS) 11.10

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 15.17 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 9.16, Callum Robson (AUS) 8.07
HEAT 2: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.93 DEF. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 9.77, Rio Waida (INA) 8.94
HEAT 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.00 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.74, Carlos Munoz (CRC) 10.40
HEAT 4: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 13.33 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 13.24, Jake Marshall (USA) 9.97

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 9.66 DEF. Kobie Enright (AUS) 6.30, Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 5.50
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.90 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 9.66, Johanne Defay (FRA) 5.57

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
HEAT 2: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 4: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Kobie Enright (AUS)
HEAT 6: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
HEAT 7: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
HEAT 8: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Men’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA)
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
HEAT 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA)
HEAT 4: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)
HEAT 5: Xavier Huxtable (AUS) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
HEAT 6: Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
HEAT 7: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 8: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)


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