|The second day of the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 5 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), saw another huge day of action with the completion of the men’s Opening Round in super clean three-to-five-foot surf at Main Break. With some critical heats won and lost, the picture on the men’s side of the Mid-season Cut is becoming clear as competition heads into the Elimination Round and beyond as early as tomorrow.|
Florence Posts Highest Heat Score of the Day, Banks His 41st Excellent Wave at Margaret River
John John Florence (HAW) was the one to beat at Main Break today, posting two back-to-back excellent scores to open his heat. In his ninth event appearance, Florence now has 41 excellent scores to his name here at Margaret River, cementing his connection with the wave as one of the strongest ever between a surfer and a Tour location. The Main Break standout displayed his incredible speed and power on rail as well as a front-side straight air to post an excellent two-wave total of 17.93 (out of a possible 20). Florence left Seth Moniz (HAW) and Carlos Munoz (CRC) in a competition for second place. At the end of the heat, Moniz threw caution to the wind and landed a critical air reverse to advance over Munoz, who is relegated to the Elimination Round.
“That heat, I just surfed how I wanted to surf,” Florence said. “I just surfed one turn at a time and for what the wave offered up for me. I took some confidence out of my result at Bells and feel like I have my season on track now and am just starting to warm up and build my confidence again and get comfortable with my equipment. Once you have good confidence in yourself and your equipment, all you have to do is go out and surf. It’s good to be back here in Western Australia though. This is one of my favourite places in the world, and I have a great connection with the place.”
Slater, Lau, Baker, O’Brien, Andino and Mamiya Keep Qualification Dreams Alive with Opening Round Wins
Kelly Slater (USA) was in top form today as he bested current No. 1 Joao Chianca (BRA) in Heat 6 of the Opening Round. The 11X World Champion is currently in 26th on the rankings and needs this to be the best result of his season in order to make the Mid Season-Cut. The urgency of significant result in Margaret River was evident as Salter turned in his best performance of the 2023 season.
“That heat felt good, it felt nice,” Slater said. “I got on a new board for that heat, and it felt quite a lot better than what I had been surfing, which was nice. This is a big week for a lot of people on tour with the Cut and everything, including me. I always surf my best when I’m coming up against the best or have a massive reason to lift my performance, so I really feel up for the challenge this week. Hopefully, we will get some more good waves. It looks like we will.”
Also needing a big result here at Margaret River is Ezekiel Lau (HAW). Lau has had a slow start to the season, and today marks his second heat win of 2023. He will need to continue this run deep into the draw if he is to save his spot on the CT.
In an all-Australian matchup, Jackson Baker emerged victorious over Ethan Ewing and Jarvis Earle. Baker is currently just over the Cut line and needed this heat win to keep his qualification campaign alive. Baker looked in touch on the open walls of Main Break, showing massive power on his frontside turns. Another Australian who is currently equal with Baker on the Rankings is Liam O’Brien, who posted the second-highest heat total of the day, which included an excellent 9.07 under an extreme amount of pressure. The CT newcomer overcame current World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA).
“That one wave was really nice,” O’Brien said. “It held its power and speed down the whole line and allowed me multiple sections to hit, and fortunately, I got the timing right on all of them, which felt good. It just felt good to display what I know I’m capable of. Let’s hope I can continue rolling through the next few rounds.”
California’s perennial title hopeful, Kolohe Andino (USA), has found himself in the unfamiliar spot of fighting for his spot on tour as he currently sits in 30th place on the rankings. Andino found a way to thrive under pressure today, putting on an inspired performance at Main Break, which included massive carves, fins-free surfing and aerials, which ended up earning him a heat total of 13.50 which was enough to take the win over Yago Dora (BRA) and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN).
The last heat of the day saw Hawaiian prodigy Barron Mamiya (HAW) take a clutch win over Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) and Callum Robson (AUS) to keep his making-the-cut dreams alive. It was an important heat for all three surfers, with the second-place progression confirming that McGillivray has made the cut, while Robson’s trip to the Elimination Round could be costly for his hopes to continue into the second half of the season.
Similarly to McGillivray, Connor O’Leary (AUS) was able to secure his spot on the second half of the CT with an impressive heat win over Jordy Smith (RSA) and Michael Rodrigues (BRA) in Heat 11 of the Opening Round.
Brazilian World Champions Kick into Gear at Main Break
Brazilian powerhouses Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) currently find themselves in 17th and 11th on the rankings, respectively, which is unfamiliar territory for the pair of World Title holders. Their current positions come off the back of lower-than-expected performances in 2023, but today at Main Break, they each seemed to kick into gear, both winning their Opening Round heats. Medina looked in searing form, posting the third-highest total of the day with a 16.00 total for his explosive backside attack.
“The waves are really fun out there today,” Medina said. “It felt nice to get two waves and open up. It’s cool to see the next generation coming up and pushing everyone surfing. It really keeps pushing everyone, which is good for the Tour. The forecast looks great for tomorrow, and everyone is ripping, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the event brings.”
West Aussies and Wildcards Head to Elimination Round
It was a tough day at the office for the men’s event wildcards and West Australian contingent, with Reef Heazlewood (AUS), Jacob Willcox (AUS), Jerome Forest (AUS), Jack Thomas (AUS), and Jarvis Earle (AUS) all finding their way into the Elimination Round at Margaret River. They all have the opportunity to play spoiler as they come up against the likes of Carlos Munoz (CRC), Michael Rodrigues (BRA), and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), who are all in desperate need to progress past the Elimination Round if they’re to keep their spot on the CT.
For highlights from the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.60 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 13.10, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.10
HEAT 2: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.73 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 12.40, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 12.00
HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 13.67 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 13.16, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 11.10
HEAT 4: Jackson Baker (AUS) 15.00 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 13.43, Jarvis Earle (AUS) 9.47
HEAT 5: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 16.07 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00, Jerome Forrest (AUS) 7.53
HEAT 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.17 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 13.84, Jack Thomas (AUS) 12.66
HEAT 7: John John Florence (HAW) 17.93 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 13.17, Carlos Munoz (CRC) 11.76
HEAT 8: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.50 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 12.96, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 11.23
HEAT 9: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.94 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 13.93, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.46
HEAT 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.00 DEF. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.23, Rio Waida (INA) 10.70
HEAT 11: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.67 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 10.66, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 8.90
HEAT 12: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.34 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 11.87, Callum Robson (AUS) 11.67
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS) vs. Jack Thomas (AUS)
HEAT 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC) vs. Jerome Forrest (AUS)
HEAT 3: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) vs. Jarvis Earle (AUS)
HEAT 4: Rio Waida (INA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
HEAT 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
HEAT 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
HEAT 6: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
HEAT 7: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 8: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRC)
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app. Check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners. For fans watching in Brazil, coverage of the competition’s Quarterfinals and beyond will continue exclusively on WorldSurfLeague.com and SporTV.
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro is presented by Tourism WA, Shiseido, YETI, Red Bull, True Surf, Surfline, Augusta Shire, Boost Mobile, Bonsoy, Harvey Norman, Bond University, Oakberry, Coopers, Rusty, GWM, Healthway, Bailey Ladders, Hydralyte, and Bioglan.