#wsl #atletas 

Opening Rounds and First Event Eliminations

Fitzgibbons, Ewing, and Ferreira Find Excellence at Main Break, World Champions Medina and Florence Advance to Round of 32, Slater Prepares for Elimination Round

22/Abr/2024 - WSL

MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia, Australia (Monday, April 15, 2024) - Stop No. 5 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, continued with a full day of heats. Main Break provided three-to-four-foot waves for the men’s Opening Round, women’s Elimination Round, and first heat of the men’s Elimination Round before conditions deteriorated and the WSL Commissioner’s Office called the competition off for the day. 

The local crowd experienced disappointment from the local event wildcards Otis North (AUS) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) bowing out early but cheered on their CT heroes Jack Robinson (AUS) and Jacob Willcox (AUS) who will surf again in the Round of 32. 

With the Mid-season Cut in full force at this event, Australians Sally Fitzgibbons and India Robinson have given themselves another opportunity to survive the qualification with their Elimination Round wins today, while the next men’s Cut scenarios will await the continuation of Elimination Round 2. 

Inspired by the next generation’s progression this season, CT veteran Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) showed moves of her own with an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) for a single-maneuver, lay-back snap on a big closeout section. This was a must-win heat for the beloved Australian hero, needing to progress in order to keep the hopes of making the Mid-season Cut in Margaret River. She will now move to the Round of 16, where she will work to improve her standing on the World Rankings and continue through to the back half of the 2024 CT season. 

“This is so fun, that’s the stuff I dream up and what gets me out of bed,” Fitzgibbons said. “The process to get to moments and maneuvers like that has been over 20 years. I always dream of it, doing that sort of stuff in pressure moments. I felt really calm once I got past the first part because I was going so fast that I knew I had done the hard part. They’re the moments that keep me playing the game and keep me fighting for my surfing. If I can get another opportunity then hopefully I can show a little bit more. I’ve been working with my shaper Glenn Pang on boards that really suit my surfing and trying to do things like that so a big shout out to the team.” 

Heat 7 of the Opening Round witnessed a super close match-up with Italo Ferreira (BRA) taking the win over Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Callum Robson (AUS). Robson put in his best showing since CT Stop No. 1 at Pipeline, posting an excellent 8.07 on his way to a 14.57 two-wave total but it wasn't enough as Igarashi took the second progressing spot with a 15.07 combination. Neither surfer was able to catch Ferreira though as he wound back the clock, posting the equal highest two-wave total of the event with a 17.00. Both Ferreira’s 8.50s were awarded for two turn waves, both seeing vertical snaps in the critical section. 

“That was a super fun heat,” Ferreria said. “I was watching the heat before and it was kind of slow so it was great to get plenty of waves and be able to post a couple of scores. I was feeling good out there and am really happy with my performance.”

Equalling Ferreira’s 17.00 point heat total of Aussie Ethan Ewing (AUS), who posted a 9.50 (out of a possible 10) on his way to a dominant heat win. After a wave-starved Quarterfinal saw Ewing eliminated in equal 5th place last week at Bells Beach, he was keen to get busy early, and that he did, posting the highest single wave score of the event so far for three massive frontside hacks. Ewing overcame Kade Matson (USA) who progressed in second with an impressive heat total of 15.00 and event wildcard Reef Heazlewwod (AUS). 

“My last heat in Bells was so slow so I really wanted to get a quick start and try to build some kind of rhythm,” Ewing said. “There’s no rhyme or reason at this place, it can just turn on or off for no real reason but we had a really good heat which was cool. Some of the waves are really good out there, probably the best I’ve seen since I got here so it was nice to get a few of them.”  

This morning Florence was taken down by Ian Gentil (HAW) and event wildcard George Pittar (AUS) in the Opening Round, Heat 4. Pittar has had an exciting month competing against the world’s best surfers after securing the wildcard at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and again at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro. Pittar took the win over two-time World Champion Florence and CT sophomore Gentil in Heat 4 of the men’s Opening Round. 

Florence was then relegated to the men’s Elimination Round but was able to bounce back alongside Australia’s Callum Robson in Heat 1. Robson continued his solid form from the Opening Round, taking a convincing heat win while Florence took the second progressing spot, narrowly over local Trial's Winner Otis North (AUS).  

Kelly Slater (USA), 11-time World Champion, was knocked to the Elimination Round after losing to Ramzi Boukhiam (MOR) and Jake Marshall (USA) in Heat 3 of the Opening Round. With the competition being called OFF after the first men’s Elimination Round due to deteriorating conditions, surfing’s GOAT will now await another day to continue competing in Margaret River. When the competition resumes, he will be against 2024 Bells winner Cole Houshmand (USA) and Yago Dora (BRA) in Heat 3 of the men’s Elimination Round. 

The second heat of the day saw the 2022 and 2023 Western Australia Margaret River Pro event winners, Jack Robinson (AUS) and Gabriel Medina (BRA), take on Deivid Silva (BRA) in a pivotal heat for all three surfers. Reigning event winner, Medina was looking to bounce back from an early exit at Bells and he came out swinging, posting an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10) on his first wave, then backing it up with a 6.50. Local favorite Robinson worked his way back into the heat with a two-wave total of 14.66, whilst Silva was sent to the Elimination Round with a 12.83. 

“It feels good to be back in WA,” Medina said. “I really started liking this wave after last year - It’s taken a long time to work it out. There are lots of different waves out there today, and you have to read each of them differently, so I’m hoping the swell picks up a bit for the next round and we continue to get more opportunity.” 

2024 CT Rookie Jacob Willcox (AUS) put on his most commanding performance of 2024, posting an excellent heat total of 16.17 (out of a possible 20) to overcome Main Break standouts Jordy Smith (RSA) and Matthew McGillivray (RSA). Willcox looked super comfortable at his home break and will look to continue the form in the Round of 32. Smith progressed in the second spot, while McGillivray was sent to the Elimination Round where he will battle Rio Waida (INA) and Deivid Silva (BRA). 

Local trials’ winners Otis North (AUS) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS) were unable to find the success of their fellow West Aussies Robinson and Willcox. Macaulay will miss the Semifinals for the first time in four years after she went down to World No. 2 Johanne Defay (FRA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in Heat 1 of the Elimination Round. North lost to Robson and Florence in the first men's Elimination Round heat.  

Following suit with Fitzgibbons, Australia’s India Robinson claimed her Elimination Round heat win to give herself another shot at making the Mid-season Cut at the Margaret River Pro. It was a pressured situation against current World No. 6 Brisa Hennessy (CRC) and No. 10 Luana Silva (BRA), but Robinson fought through with a 13.67 and the win. Robinson still has a way to go to secure herself above the Cut, but her win continues to give her to shot to advance. Hennessy secured her position after the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, but Silva is in a difficult position on the rankings as she sits just on the bubble. Movement from her competitors below the Cut, could mean relegation to the 2024 Challenger Series this season.  

With three of four heats of the men’s Elimination Round still pending, major Cut scenarios are on the line when the competition resumes. Miguel Pupo (BRA), Slater, and Silva must advance out of the Elimination Round to avoid being cut from the CT.

For highlights from today’s competition at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round Results:

HEAT 1: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 14.50 DEF. Eli Hanneman (HAW) 12.03, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 11.33

HEAT 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.00 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 14.66, Deivid Silva (BRA) 12.83

HEAT 3: Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) 13.26 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 11.53, Kelly Slater (USA) 9.77

HEAT 4: George Pittar (AUS) 11.57 DEF. Ian Gentil (HAW) 8.87, John John Florence (HAW) 6.83

HEAT 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 17.00 DEF. Kade Matson (USA) 15.00, Reef Heazlewood (AUS) 12.30

HEAT 6: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.70 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.20, Otis North (AUS) 6.86

HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 17.00 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.07, Callum Robson (AUS) 14.57

HEAT 8: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.93 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 14.33, Cole Houshmand (USA) 12.73

HEAT 9: Frederico Morais (POR) 15.37 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 14.50, Yago Dora (BRA) 12.47

HEAT 10: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 16.17 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 15.23, Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 15.10

HEAT 11: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.56 DEF. Connor O'Leary (JPN) 12.83, Rio Waida (INA) 12.56

HEAT 12: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 16.57 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 16.36, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.37

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round Results (Heat 1):

HEAT 1: Callum Robson (AUS) 12.84 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 11.37, Otis North (AUS) 10.73

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Elimination Round Remaining Matchups (Heats 2 - 4):

HEAT 2: Barron Mamiya (HAW) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)

HEAT 3: Cole Houshmand (USA) vs. Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)

HEAT 4: Rio Waida (INA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Deivid Silva (BRA)

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round Results:

HEAT 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.27 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.73, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 6.33

HEAT 2: India Robinson (AUS) 13.67 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 13.27, Luana Silva (BRA) 11.83

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Round of 16 Matchups:

HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. India Robinson (AUS)

HEAT 2: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)

HEAT 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Alyssa Spencer (USA)

HEAT 4: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)

HEAT 5: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)

HEAT 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)

HEAT 7: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)

HEAT 8: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Sawyer Lindblad (USA)