Wildcard Smashes Slater (Switch!), Can't Hold Off A Rampaging Pupo In Teahupo'o Final - Stab Mag
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Our new favorite surfer (for a day). Photo: WSL

Wildcard Smashes Slater (Switch!), Can’t Hold Off A Rampaging Pupo In Teahupo’o Final

Courtney and Miggy outlast all to win the Outerknown Tahiti Pro.

news // Aug 20, 2022
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 8 minutes

A lot can happen in a day in Tahiti.

One minute the swell was sputtering, nay a barrel in sight. Then the women finalize the roster for WSL Final Five, a certain local put on a clinic against the best to ever don a jersey at Teahupo’o, and an 11-year veteran gets his first CT victory. Here’s how the last day of the 2022 season concluded.

TLDR

  • Miguel Pupo makes and wins his first CT final in 11 years on tour. 
  • Courtney Conlogue charged with a smile on her face to win her first CT event since Bells in 2019.
  • Brisa Hennessy bobs, weaves and fends off Lakey Peterson to secure the No. 5 seed at Lowers. 
  • Local hero Vahine Fierro hands Carissa Moore an L in a slow quarterfinal. 
  • Kauli Vaast smokes Kelly Slater in a (maybe) unprecedented masterclass.
You earned this, Miguel. Photo by Beatriz Ryder/WSL

The Final 5

Here’s who will be surfing in the 2022 WSL Finals at Lower Trestles this September:

Men: Filipe Toledo, Jack Robinson, Ethan Ewing, Italo Ferreira, Kanoa Igarashi

Women: Carissa Moore, Johanne Defay, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Stephanie Gilmore, and Brisa Hennessy.

One More Wave

Surfline called it 6 to 8 feet in the morning. The men’s quarters went first, followed by women’s. The swell dropped considerably from yesterday’s bloodbath, with most waves just too small for the outside ledge and just too big for the inside. Reverse Goldilocks = clampy burgers.

If yesterday was a matter of picking your line and holding on for dear life, today was a battle of positioning and wave choice. For most of the day, legit scores were hard to come by.

By both finals, things settled down and there were quality head-high+ waves on tap. The finalists did not disappoint. Miguel Pupo and Kauli Vaast held a two-man kegger on the reef. It was high energy and both of them traded perfect overhead runners for almost the entire heat (after a restart). They showed deft touch slowing down, pumping, and flexing on the inside ledge. 

As the minutes ticked by, each exchange had more gravitas. It was hard to tell who was cheering louder in the channel — the Tahitians or the Brazilians. Ultimately, Miguel channeled his inner Gabriel and picked the best waves, surfed them confidently, and was unfazed by the local’s superior technical skill. Kauli was on point all day, but this was Miguel’s day to shine.

Kauli Vaast is such a weapon. Damien Poullenot/WSL

Come-ups 

Peak performance: Miguel Pupo in the final, 17.17, Kauli Vaast in SF1, 17.33 points, Courtney Conlogue in Q2, 15.33 points

Hit replay: Miguel Pupo (17.17) vs Kauli Vaast (15)) Final, Miguel Pupo (13.07) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (11.04) Q4, Courtney Conlogue (15.33) vs Stephanie Gilmore (4.14) Q2

Monster maneuver: Kauli’s switch tube against Kelly in Semi 1

One-liner: “I try to direct every contest but they just don’t listen to me!” Kelly on if he might ever become a competition director. 

Courtney went beast mode this event and had fun doing it. Her confidence and technique seemed to improve each heat. She rode the best waves in the final, displayed textbook form, and stayed high and tight all day. She now has 13 CT wins, one more than Sally Fitz. Had she lost, Brisa would have jumped up three spots to No. 2 in the world. 

Surf off! While Griffin and Kanoa flip-flopped for the fifth spot at Lowers in different heats, the women’s version was one and done. It was Lakey Peterson vs Brisa in Q4 and the winner got the last slot in the Final Five. The ocean didn’t provide much, and the scores reflected that. Zero tubes and low numbers until Brisa compressed into a small but deep drainer and got spat out for a 7.17. Lakey tucked in and claimed her last wave hoping for an 8.13, but it wasn’t close. Tears of joy for Brisa. 

Brisa Hennessy lived on Namotu for much of the pandemic. Her reefbreak savvy paid off today. Photo by Beatriz Ryder/WSL

Though Kelly rose from his cryogenic chamber just an hour before the quarters, you know the GOAT lives for this stuff. He has a 91% winning percentage in the quarters at Chopes. A priority mistake against a red-hot Yago still couldn’t stop him. Trailing with two minutes left and needing a 7.44, Kelly let out a censored tirade. Or maybe a prayer to the Tahitian gods, because the ocean blessed him with a(n incredibly generous) 8.10 and the win. 

Then he ran into Kauli in the semis, who put on one of the most productive and efficient clinics against Kelly we’ve ever seen. After the women’s semis, Kauli comboed the 5x Tahiti winner with two barrels in the first five minutes, then proceeded to torch the Kelly with multiple magic carpet rides underneath priority.

Adding insult to elder abuse, Kauli took off switch on a wave and remained in an affected pigdog stance through multiple tube sections before coming out, switching back to goof, and pelting the end section for a 6.77. Pete Mel said the score should have gone excellent due to degree of difficulty, but the judges opted to score the wave just as they would for a natural natural-footer. Some existential questions there.

Overall, Kauli caught five waves in the heat and averaged 7.6 points per ride. Kelly didn’t catch a wave until 2:40 remaining. The finishing total was 17.33 to 1.17 — the biggest (mathematical) loss of Kelly’s career? Likely, but we’ll have to consult 32 years of stats to confirm. Give us a few weeks.

Fifty years old. Goals. Photo by Damien Poullenot/WSL

Let-downs 

Caught behind: Kelly Slater in SF1, 1.17 points; Carissa Moore in Q3, 3.26 points

Blind mice: Kelly’s 8.14 in the quarters felt a bit juicy, and Kauli Vaast’s switch foot fiesta is worth a healthy debate.

Say what?: “He’s been in a lackadaisical mode the last few years. Now you see him and he wants to win.” – Strider Wasilewski on Kelly’s headspace. 

The broadcast began with a highlight reel showing Vahine, Brisa, and Tatiana packing pits for breakfast this morning before the event started. Only the local wildcard made it out of one. That foreshadowed what was to come. About midway through her quarterfinal against Carissa, Vahine knifed and pulled into an overhead set wave flawlessly for a 6.5. But that was about the only real highlight in a slow but highly anticipated matchup. Carissa looked out of rhythm, straightened out on a couple, and gave away priority in the waning minutes, allowing Vahine to close it out.

Are there any wildcards more dangerous than Tahitians? Vahine Fierro thinks not. Photo by Beatriz Ryder/WSL

Tatiana charged all event and got a few head dips before threading a proper one and earning her first win over Caroline Marks in three matchups. Courtney looked like a knight in shining yellow armor with steed to match as she blew Steph out of the water on the biggest waves of the quarters. After securing pocket sevens with solid pigdog technique, she straightened out on a closeout 8-footer only to get sucked over the falls. She came up smiling.

Everything was set up for a clash of the hardest charging women on tour, but the onshores came up and shut things down. The heat resorted to turns and Courtney only needed a high four and a low two to get by Tatiana. 

The comp went on hold for nearly a half hour until 1 p.m. In the next semifinal, the women had a hard time finding substantial scores. You could feel how sad every Tahitian in the channel was as Vahine stumbled to Brisa with a 2.97 total. Brisa surfed smart on the inside to get small scores, then got lucky as Vahine fell on a grower that would have gotten her into the final. 

Courtney Conlogue doesn’t need to see it to believe it. Photo by Beatriz Ryder/WSL

Miscellanea

I’m going to float a concept I cannot take credit for, but am curious to hear feedback on it anyway. What if, in the quest for equality, the WSL ran overlapping heats with men and women? Both genders share the lineup and get scores at the same time. It would eliminate a lot of questions about which conditions are contestable, and men and women would have the same playing field. 

Of course, there are days like yesterday when a line might have to be drawn, and I don’t know how hard this would be for the judges. This is not an entirely thought-through concept. But what do you think? Feel free to comment below. 

Tatis carves could 100% hang with the guys’. Photo: WSL/Poullenot

Gamble Ramble

Mikey C had three surfers in the semis that, if they’d gone on to win the event, would have netted him between $400 – $1,200.  

In quality conditions, these surfers were the clear favorites to win their semifinal matchups. Of course, the wind went onshore, changing the entire dynamic of the event, and they all lost before the final…where the conditions got good again. 

Ain’t that surf betting. 

Event winners:

  • $50 on Vahine Fierro at +1600 LOST
  • $50 on Tatiana Weston-Webb at +800 LOST
  • $50 on Kelly Slater at +1000 LOST

Event winner earnings: -$150

Day 4 picks:

QF

  • $20 on Caroline Marx at +125 to win $25 LOST
  • $50 on Courtney Conlogue at -105 to win $47 WON
  • $30 on Vahine Fierro at -105 to win $28 WON
  • $30 on Kelly Slater at -125 to win $24 WON
  • $20 on Matthew McGillivray at +185 to win $37 LOST
  • $40 on Caio Ibelli at +150 to win $60 WON

QF earnings: $120

SF

  • $30 on Kauli Vaast at +100 to win $30 WON
  • $30 on Caio Ibelli at -115 to win $27
  • $10 on Courtney Conlogue at +115 to win $11 WON

SF earnings: $11

Final:

  • $50 on Courtney Conlogue at -130 to win $39 WON

Final earnings: $39

Day 4 earnings: $20
Event earnings: $57
2022 season earnings: $907

Pick your Lowers winners here.

Yago might have a case for a recount in his quarter today. Photo: WSL Poullenot

Results

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.67
2 – Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 5.20

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 17.17
2 – Kauli Vaast (FRA) 15.00

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Women’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.66 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 7.30
HEAT 2: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 7.90 DEF. Vahine Fierro (FRA) 2.97

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Men’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Kauli Vaast (FRA) 17.33 DEF. Kelly Slater (USA) 1.17
HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.50 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 7.57

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 12.66 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 4.23
HEAT 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.33 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4.16
HEAT 3: Vahine Fierro (FRA) 10.00 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 3.26
HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 10.10 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.14

Outerknown Tahiti Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Kauli Vaast (FRA) 12.26 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 5.23
HEAT 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.77 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 14.10
HEAT 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.00 DEF. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 10.76
HEAT 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.07 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.04

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