Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Finals Day analysis: “Medina wins most one-sided final ever over a guy who never should have been there!”

Connor Coffin's winning waves, minus the artificially inflated 8.77, averaged out at 5.14 over the tournament. Tell me how a guy who struggles to get over a five, who managed one excellent ride in the whole event, can get anywhere near the final?

TL:DR: Medina wins most one-sided final ever over a guy who never should have been there.

Judges cooked the spread to avoid a combination score over Connor Coffin but it didn’t matter.

In fact, Medina must realise in his heart of hearts, none of these wins matter now. In fact, they just increase the chances of the nightmare scenario we outlined when the Trestles Finals Day was announced. Medina miles ahead, run down by Italo or Felipe at head-high Trestles. Medina will still have to solve the Italo problem, absent faulty judging which artificially cruelled his only real opponent outside JJF at Pipe.

Connor Coffin’s winning waves, minus the artificially inflated 8.77, averaged out at 5.14 over the tournament. Tell me how a guy who struggles to get over a five, who managed one excellent ride in the whole event, can get anywhere near the final? This guy, as nice as he is, should have been in the stands with a Corona watching Gabe Medina in head-high beachbreak, not surfing against him.

Apart from that though: huge, huge success. Glistening beachbreak peaks, enough challenge, enough variety, good enough waves. Peacocks and peahens in full plumage. Crowds every day and unless everyone they spoke to was lying, an insatiable hunger for pro surfing and a real joy to see it back at Narra.

I ask the same question we’ve asked all week.

What now? They can’t dump Narrabeen. I see no substitution, no subtraction, only addition. Gold Coast, Narra, Newy, Bells, Margarets. WSL have already broken their own rules about the number of CT’s allowed per country, so what’s the problem?

They make the rules. They break ’em.

The booth was frothing over the possibility of a new CT winner but the newbies weren’t up to the task, in the end. Ewing was well beaten in the first ten minutes by a trio of six point rides from Fred Morais. Griff had moments of brilliance, mostly an 8.5 air against Yago in their quarter. Connor did slightly better versions of the same turn he did all event; a mostly lateral power hook with a close-out reo for incremental gains.

One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with Narra as a contest venue, apart from the fact it’s not in my backyard, was the extreme discombobulation it was able to generate in the minds of the world’s best surfers. These aren’t people being called on to solve differential calculus or perform brain surgery on kiddies but their livelihood does require being able to place themselves in a position to catch a wave.

In three-foot surf with a reliable sandbar it flummoxed the best. Including Filipe Toledo. None moreso than former CT event winner Kanoa Igarashi. Kanoa tried to get cute on a paddling interference on Connor Coffin, got denied, gained a restart because that move denied anyone catching a wave and then dropped anchor. For thirty minutes. That was the heat, one more above his rightful station, that should have exposed Connor Coffin and sent him packing.

Instead Igarashi, one of the highest paid surfers on tour, sat there with a 0.8 heat total as the siren sounded. Igarashi’s summation of the debacle seemed to lack insight. He said he only “made one mistake”. True I suppose, if you count not catching waves in rippable three-foot beachbreak with only other guy out as a single mistake.

It’s a single mistake in the same way that taking your hands off the wheel and closing your eyes while driving on the freeway is a single mistake.

Coaching has become integral in the post-covid, post-Slater era. You wonder what is being coached.

Morgan Cibilic had Medina on the rack after the best wave of the event. The only proper left hand tube-ride ridden expertly for an high eight. Then he sat, for most of the heat with priority, letting Medina run riot all over the bank. Up and down he roamed, hustling every corner. We got the insight from coach Andy King. Hunt the bank, don’t go outside, “if it’s clean and green go for it”. King called it simply a numbers game, with X amount of waves Gabe would swing for excellent and sooner or later complete.

When you give the best guy in the world unlimited opportunity then it’s likely to work in his favour. As it did in Newy, as it did at Pipe, as it did at Narrabeen.

Defence as a strategy generally, was a losing game at Narrabeen.

JJF, by contrast, fell to pieces against Cibilic. Over-surfing at Newy, under-surfing at Narra.

And Medina was kind.

He paddled up and down, past the kid, never bothering him, never getting up in his grill like he did to Fred Morais in the dying moments of their semi. It seemed to hypnotise Morgan. He stopped surfing and sat there, immobile.

Medina pegged Morgs back and then on the buzzer, with the score perhaps being needed (it wasn’t), threw a lofted air rotation into the teeth of the comps most vicious close-out section. A career ender for lesser surfers. Gabe greased it, looked to the judges, made elaborate hand signals to let them know the landing was complete and then stepped onto the sand. It was an undeniable gesture of solidarity with Italo.

Coach King made an astute observation: “You’re creating a new space for yourself there, brother”.

Space: in the air, on the face, from the tyranny of family dynamics. A mother who can’t let go. The sensation of cutting loose, of being free, of being in charge of his own destiny seemed to create in Medina great, even tremendous quantities of energy. He made time slow down in his heats somehow. For others the thirty minutes raced by with barely an opportunity. For Medina it seemed to be filled with the luxury of time and ample waves.

The problem with a hot take is the emotion drives the pen.

It’s later, when cooler heads can rationalise what seems incomprehensible. On reflection, I think I understand now the message judges were sending to the Tour by deeming Italo’s air an incomplete. Even if that pushed a wholly inappropriate candidate forwards into the finals. It was a mistake for the greater good, a recession we had to have, if I’m reading it correctly.

Something like: no manufactured scores, no tricky recoveries, no reversion to the Slater era when sleight of hand in the whitewater won out.

Everything has to be brutally clean and separate, like a lone tree silhouetted on a hill at sunset.

If that is the case, then I propose we make peace with the judges, as long as they apply the standard equally. The harsh scale all event was appropriate. It left clear mountain air for those willing to go huge.

Big questions for Australian surfing after the first three events.

Lots of backmarkers languishing on the cut-off.

No combatants in either final, no ladies or men in the semis.

Our best guy is a kid no one heard of a year ago.

Can he hold the line in WA? His style would seem perfect for it.

One more early loss for John and his whole year looks as brittle as chalk.

The Dream Tour is over as we knew it, but we’re doing fine.

Gabriel Medina, second at Pipe, second at Newcastle, first at Narrabeen.

Caroline Marks, Gabriel Medina win Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, “Most beautiful peacocks and peafowls throwing tail feathers high on dreamy offshore day!”


Professional surfing, oh my goodness, wild and wooly etc. So much hot action, so many hot takes, all in the knee deep cool of waist-high Narrabeen.

The best, maybe, from thruster inventor Simon Anderson and door buster Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew.

That duo scared voice of professional surfing Joe Turpel more than the possibility of a shark eating 3x champion Mick Fanning live on camera.

Wisdom etc.

Longtom’s much-anticipated wrap soon, but in the meantime, your event winners are Caroline Marks, for the women, and Gabriel Medina, for the men.

Both looking positively dominant, Caroline over Tati, Gabriel over Connor.

“Most beautiful peacock…” as Mick Fanning breathlessly gushed whilst speaking of Medina earlier in the day.

“Peafowl” he would have said had he been in the booth for Caroline Marks.


Open thread: Comment live, finals day, Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic!

Quarter finals to podium… 

Meet: Moroccan Open National Women’s Champion and future grumpy local Ninon Mattei!


We here luxuriate, almost always, in a grumpy local rissole. The perfect pressing, breading, baking of grievances, frustrations, love and laughs. But as participation in surfing explodes around the world what are the youngers thinking?

How are they feeling?

I had the wonderful opportunity to find out at least one opinion via the Moroccan Open National Women’s Champion, 22-year-old Ninon Mattei, and believe I am going to turn this into a series. Not concentrating on up-and-coming pros but on the grinders who are sacrificing all for this idiotic surfing life we all love.

How does surfing in Morocco feel?

It feels pretty special actually. The Surfing community is quite small in Morocco , we all know each other especially in the north where I live, we all have respect for each other whatever the level you have and that’s pretty cool. I’ve travelled a lot last year and it always feels so good to be back home. South of Morocco is definitely my favorite place in the world during winter time, we always score crazy good waves.

What is your dream?

A Mentawai boat trip with the crew scoring epic waves. That’s it. That’s the Dream

What is the best part of professional surfing?

I would say doing the thing you love the most in the world everyday and have the opportunity to live off and for your passion.

What is the best part of surfing?

For me it’s the balance of the unpredictable and freedom, surfing is always exciting, you never know what you gonna get, it can be very frustrating sometimes for sure but it also makes things really interesting. You don’t have any control on the waves or conditions but once you’re on the wave you have the freedom to do whatever you want.

Who is your favorite surfer and why?

Hard question. There are so many guys and girls I admire so much. I’m gonna say Abdel El Harim. He is quite a legend in my hometown, best Moroccan surfer so far, I’ve always looked up to him growing up and I still do, he is still ripping hard. What I admire the most about him is how he always manages to have fun in every condition and takes out the best of everything. Beside him, my favorite surfer to watch is Ryan Callinan. I’ve watched his last edit like 400 times, so smooth.

What is your goal?

In general my goal is to improve in every way I can as a person. In Surfing i would say that my main goal is always going to be to get better and scoring good waves. But I have a few goals besides that like doing a good result in couples QS ,finding a sponsor and working on my contest mindset. I really have trouble with that but I’m on it!

Can you reach the top?

It depends what you mean by “Top?” The CT? I wish haha, but I’m realistic. The QS? Besides the fact that the level is more and more high I don’t have any sponsors, doing the full QS is expensive. I’m really aware of that. But my surfing is improving everyday, I really think that I can do some results but like I was saying earlier I really need to work on my mindset to make that happen.

Assuming surfing stays Olympic, will you smash the dang Australians and Americans?

Unfortunately i can’t represent Morocco in the Olympics! I don’t have a Moroccan passport but a French one. But if it was the case i would say that as funny as it could be to see an unknown girl from Morocco smash Steph Gilmore in a Heat i don’t think it’s gonna happen, but you never know! I mean, like we say here: Inchallah!

What is your future?

No idea, I’m not a planner. I really think that the best things in life are the unexpected ones. What has to happen gonna happen but i know one thing for sure: surfing is gonna be in it.

What is our future?

The pandemic made me think about that a lot. Things are gonna change for sure. I’m really aware of negative issues that we have and will have face like the social and economic crisis the Covid is making and the big environmental crisis but i truly want to believe that we also moving toward a better future because people seem to be more and more open minded, more aware of everything that is happening in the world and willing to fight for it. There is always hope after all!

Anti-depressive, no?

Italo Ferreira takes beautiful high road, responds to egregiously heinous, thoroughly embarrassing World Surf League judging call: “This offends everyone but me!”

We could all learn so much. Some of us more than others.

The professional surf watching community was left in various stages of stunned outrage, yesterday, when five judges sitting in a booth overlooking Narrabeen’s wobbly lefts and rights deemed World Champion Italo Ferreira’s fabulous full rotation air in the dying minutes of his heat against Connor Coffin to be incomplete.

Per the great Longtom’s assessment, “My main beef with the panel goes back earlier in the heat to a left that Italo surfed that should have been at least a point and half or two better than Connor’s scoring waves. That critical underscore fucked the correct unfolding of the back third of the heat. Italo was flayed and cooked either way. The best guy did not win. He knew it, we knew it, the whole beach knew it.”

Ferreira, in a display of passionate emotion, stomped his board in half.

Hours ago he responded in a statement, posted to Instagram.

“Isso desmotiva qualquer um, só que eu não! Eu ligo o foda-se e vou pra próxima. Obrigado pelo carinho” which translates (via the translation button) as “This offends anyone, except me! I’ll turn the fuck on and move on to the next one. Thank you for caring.”

I assume the correct translation would actually be “This offends everyone except me…” but you get the picture.

The high road.

That beautiful high road.

An object lesson for all of us, how wonderful it is to let go, move on, be gracious.

We could all learn much.

Mostly me.