Wildcards On Fire - Stab Mag
Spoiler alert: not the 10.0 (Photo: WSL/Daniel Smorigo)

Wildcards On Fire

Top seeds decapitated by wildcards, plus the best 10 we’ve seen in ages.

news // Jun 25, 2022
Words by Craig Jarvis
Reading Time: 6 minutes

What a strange wave is Ituana. 

It’s incredibly quick and steep for one-and-a-half sections, then falls totally flat the rest of the wave. Over the past two days, many of the world’s best have struggled to match its pace. The eternal lump and bump probably don’t help. 

Blame it on the rip, the tide, or Mercury’s elliptical orbit, but many, many top seeds fell today. It was a bloodbath, really. Here’s how it went down:


  • Women’s World #3 Steph Gilmore goes down to Isabella Nichols, and World #4 Brisa Hennessy falls shortly thereafter. 
  • Peruvian wildcard Miguel Tudela sends world #3 Griffin Colapinto packing with a last-minute inverted spin, setting the stage for a day of upsets. 
  • Caio Ibelli gets a perfect 10 for a tube that you must see to believe (below). 
  • Mateus Herdy demos Kanoa Igarashi after a questionable pre-event training program
  • Gabriel Medina’s loss to Callum Robson means he will not qualify for the 2022 WSL Finals. 
Treacherous board on lip placement. (Photo by Daniel Smorigo/ World Surf League )


Peak performance: Wildcards Tudela and Herdy were surfing wild today! Robson surfed like a champ. 

Hit replay: 

  • R2 H1 – Miguel Tudela v Griff and a huge clutch air.
  • R2 H2 – Ibelli v Andre and the 10-point ride.
  • R2 H3 – Igarashi v Herdy and a sick double-air attack from under-rated Herdy.
  • R2H7 – Robson v Medina, ridiculous top-scorer from Robson, strange heat tactics and a possible injury.

Monster Maneuver: Tudela’s foot-free inverted frontside spin in R2H2 to eliminate Griff. Not the biggest air, but boy was it dynamic (and clutch!). 

Inverted trickster (Daniel Smorigo/World Surf League)

One-liner: “I think it was the second claim. I was hitting the flag, saying we’re here, we’re strong, we’re Brazil.” Sammy Pupo describes his vehement claim en route to beating Brother.

Compared to day one of competition, the level seems to have doubled in intensity today. Miguel Tudela was on fire. Mateus Herdy was intense. Everyone seemed to have woken up and suddenly realised the consequences of a good/bad result in this event.

The most remarkable moment came in men’s heat two. Needing a four in the dying minutes, Caio Ibelli took off on what looked like a mid-size straight-hander. After a quick pump he slipped behind the curtain, and the close-out didn’t entirely close out immediately. He drove, foamballed, drove again and somehow hung on, emerging some 75 meters from his initial entry point. 

This was Caio’s first 10-point-ride during his 10th year on tour, and it knocked Jadson Andre out of his 100th CT event in the process. 

In a slightly less electric match, Nat Young surfed consistently to beat Jordy Smith, who couldn’t find the good ones and struggled to link multiple turns. Just get me to J-Bay, he must be thinking.  

A very excited Joao Chianca, with his home crowd hitting previously unknown decibel levels in support, went full-tilt against Ethan Ewing. The two surfers were sharing tubes and massive mid-face gaffs. If it was a freesurf, there would have been a lot of high-fiving going. But the jerseys and crowd meant this was serious with business, with only a tenth of a point separating the men in the end. Again, it was Chianca who came up painstakingly short. To make matters worse, he was incredibly grateful in his post-heat interview. You can’t not like this guy. 


Caught behind: Steph Gilmore was out of sorts. She can do no wrong in my eyes, but it was a quiet and disappointing elimination. 

Jordy’s clutch wave against Nat Young looked like it had all the potential for the needed score of 6.5, but he fluffed it and was heading home with an equal 17th.  

The drone managed to stay in rotation. (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Blind mice: It was hard to find fault with the judges today. I love the fact that I can actually write this.

Say what?: “Wow. I am in shock! Another fall.” Pete Mel in disbelief as Medina blows his 6th forehand air attempt in a row. 

The Robson vs Medina heat was such a strange one to witness. There were pumping waves to be had — particularly the right-handers running towards the rip — and Callum was surfing with the same electric power he’s brough all year long. He had one excellent wave for two ridiculous power turns on the outside, plus a little inside bonus. 

For some reason, Medina chose to surf down the beach – quite far down the beach – in the hunt for lefts and air sections. He found plenty of waves, picking up 11 rides in the heat, but blew air attempt after attempt. 

Six times out of six, he fell on fairly basic rotations (for someone of the calibre of Medina), and it seemed like something was wrong. Was it his board? He was straight to the medical quarters after his heat, so something was definitely amiss. Turns out it was a knee tweak, but it seems not too serious. To the casual observer, it seemed like more of a mental issue than a physical one. Andy King, where you at?

Callum sticking to his own formula (Photo by Daniel Smorigo/World Surf League)


Matt McGillivray has a solid battle spirit combined with good BMT skills. In his heat against Jake Marshall, he picked up a wave with bumps and warbles all over the face but managed to do a solid bottom turn and find a groove to get to the top. Luckily the wave opened up, allowing for an unattractive bottom turn top turn combo, but it was enough. It was reminiscent of his do-or-die performance against Kanoa in the round of 16 at Margaret’s. 

Marshall fought back hard against McGillivray, but he bust his stick shred so bad in the dying minutes and couldn’t catch up. 

In the women’s first quarter, the very popular and oft-Brazil-winning Sally Fitzgibbons had an unlucky heat and lost to Johanne Defay. A victim of the mid-year cuts, Sally has shown plenty of fire of late, and the relegation seems to have opened up her personality a touch more. Everyone loves Sally. 

Of the 16 surfers left on the men’s side of the tournament, eight of them are Brazilians, and four of them are wildcards. 

Everyone’s Fantasy Surfer is going to be messed up after this event. 

Johanne Defay manifesting the event win (Photo by Thiago Diz/World Surf League)

Gamble Ramble

If Mikey C had just followed his own advice, he’d be a very rich man today. Underdogs ran rampant in R2, taking major scalps left, right, and center. An uncharacteristically cautious approach on Betonline.ag cost him dearly. 

Event winner picks

– $20 on Kanoa Igarashi at +1400 to win $280 LOST
– $30 on Italo Ferreira at +700 to win $210 R3
– $10 on Yago Dora at +4000 to win $400 R3
– $15 on Sally Fitz at +1600 to win $240 LOST
– $15 on Johanne Defay at +1400 to win $210 SF
– $20 on Caroline Marks at +900 to win $180 LOST

Day 2 picks

– $10 on Sol Aguirre at +350 to win $35 LOST
– $10 Isabella Nichols at +155 to win $16 WON
– $10 on Brisa Hennessy at -105 to win $10 LOST
– $15 on Mateus Herdy at +160 to win $24 WON
– $10 on Nat Young at +110 to win $11 WON
– $20 on Kolohe Andino at -105 to win $20 LOST
– $20 on Matthew McGillvray at -115 to win $17 WON

Day 2 earnings: -$14
Event earnings: +65


Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Elimination Round Results: 
HEAT 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 8.50 DEF. Sol Aguirre (PER) 8.33
HEAT 2: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.16 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.70
HEAT 3: Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.90 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.10
HEAT 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.33 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 5.80
Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Quarterfinal Results: 
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 9.43 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 8.10
HEAT 2: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 8.94 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.33
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.47 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 10.50
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 11.40 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 4.50
Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Semifinal Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Elimination Round Results: 
HEAT 1: Miguel Tudela (PER) 14.30 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.60
HEAT 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.43 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.83
HEAT 3: Mateus Herdy (BRA) 16.00 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.90
HEAT 4: Nat Young (USA) 12.00 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.17
HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 13.57
HEAT 6: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 11.00 DEF. Kolohe Andino (USA) 6.27
HEAT 7: Callum Robson (AUS) 15.57 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.37
HEAT 8: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 11.40 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 10.53
Oi Rio Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Round of 16 Matchups: 
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Mateus Herdy (BRA)
HEAT 2: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Miguel Tudela (PER)
HEAT 6: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
HEAT 7: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)
HEAT 8: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS)


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