Filipe brought something new, which would have forced judges to make a new decision about where the state of the art is, with huge ramifications for the Finals Day at Trestles.

Margaret River Pro Finals Day Analysis: “Would Tati and Filipe be hoisting trophies overhead if the Box was the venue? Lets just say no, and be done with that counter-factual”

How to explain the inexplicable decision to run the Finals at a B-grade spot when the A-grade spot across the channel was firing?

You couldn’t avoid one glaring takeaway from Finals Day today in glistening four-to-six foot Main Break rights: There really is a God and Brazilian pro surfers are her Chosen People.

God obviously whispered into Jessy Miley-Dyer’s ear in the wee hours that Main Break was the spot to be despite a fan base clamouring for a tube-riding shoot out at the Box. How else to explain the inexplicable decision to run the Finals at a B-grade spot when the A-grade spot across the channel was firing?

Would Tati and Filipe be hoisting trophies overhead if the Box was the venue? Lets just say no, and be done with that counter-factual.

The more glaring counter-factual was, what would have happened if John John was there?

His absence from the quarters lent a very downbeat tone to the opening proceedings, obviously not helped along by the news that Jack Macaulay had come to fatal misadventure in the near past. That made me feel sick in the guts, for what was not said, in the same way the Westpac rescue chopper doing laps around my place behind the Point makes my blood run cold. Last time was a young man in his twenties, same as Jack.

Brutal day for the Macaulays, God knows how you move on from that.

John’s quarter-final appearance in 2017 netted a 18.04 total.

In 2019, a 17.73 haul.

No one was anywhere near that level today.

Miles away from those performance benchmarks. It was flat viewing.

Knowing the best guy was on a plane for home, nursing a dicky knee. Perhaps reluctantly now coming to terms that the Florentian World view as far as surfing goes is a metaphysical cheque the two-time champ’s body can’t cash. At least not consistently or in competition.

Apples to apples comparisons are valid, I think, at cut-glass Main Break when it comes to John and the rest of the field today. The day was incredibly similar to the 2017 high point in terms of size and surface conditions.

For cosmic justice to be served, Griff needed to really be the guy to step up and smash Jordan Smith and go on to win the comp.

He could have.

He got the best wave of the heat, a wave Jordy gifted him with priority after scoring himself an eight, his first excellent ride of the Aussie leg. With plenty of time, Griff couldn’t conjure up a high six to match Jordy’s seven and the spectre of John continued to haunt the draw.

The semi between Filipe and Matt McGilivray was lacklustre, highlighted by the appearance of Robert Kelly Slater at 5.15 Honolulu time. Zinced-up Kelly fresh obvs from a full day surfing laid down the classic line, “I’ve been out running some errands.”

The busted hoof is the right one but Slater claimed it was now the left one and back that was giving him gyp, although he has been surfing “in the last couple of weeks”. A question from Ronnie Blakey about being ready to compete in the Olympics was unfortunately cut short but I’m quite certain Kelly said “that’s the plan.”

You would lay down good money he will be right for the Surf Ranch Pro next month.

“God has a plan and he loves you,” said Tatiana Weston-Webb after easily accounting for Steph Gilmore in the final. He obv’s don’t love the Australian male pro surfer. No Aussie anywhere near the finals again after Ryan Callinan fired thirty minutes of blanks in his quarter. Increasingly likely no Aussie male anywhere near the September Finals Day at Trestles.

What are we supposed to do God? What’s our plan? Dress in sack cloths and wander along the beaches whipping ourselves with chains and leather?

I guess we can blame God for whispering into Elo’s ear that the Ziff dream of a guaranteed Finals surf-off (ironically inspired by the first JJF world title) should be held at Trestles. Where one man holds a massive advantage over the rest of the field.

Well, two men actually, based on results.

They finalled today.

The Final started with a quartet of waves, which went unseen by the live viewing audience. I feel like a jerk for kicking the Woz in the nutz so repeatedly but as Derek Rielly questioned: is there another global sporting franchise that so deliberately refuses to broadcast the (critical) opening minutes of its Final?


Is it because we are sinners and need to be punished? I can’t think of any other reason they would be so vindictively bloody-minded.

Filipe and Jordy traded sets, for a clear advantage to Jordy, then smaller insiders where both fell. The second exchange though revealed a clear performance gap. Filipe was sizzling on a bladey swallow-tail on the smaller insiders. Jordy, more ponderous on a bigger board, aping the John John Florence long arc line.

Would judges pay the clearly superior surfing on a smaller wave or would it come down to, as Jordy Smith repeatedly intoned during the event to “getting the best waves”?

That was the only live question during the first half of the Final.

It was answered emphatically on the next exchange. Pip tore a clean mid-sizer several new orifices. The difference in turn speed, rotation and repertoire was stark. The JJF benchmark of long arc power surfing was being upturned by a new approach of savage short arc power.

Going back to the apples to apples comparison, this time between John and Filipe. John’s 2017 Final: two nines for a 19.03 heat total.

His 2019 reprise: two nines for an 18.05.

The numbers alone say that he would have easily accounted for Filipes 17.40 total.

I’m not so sure, though. Only one wave this event for John went excellent from turns alone.

Just one.

Absent the ten-point ride, the only excellent ride from his now aborted Australian leg.

I take that as evidence of repertoire fatigue from the panel who wanted evolution from John and responded with disinterest when they didn’t see it.

Filipe brought something new, which would have forced judges to make a new decision about where the state of the art is, with huge ramifications for the Finals Day at Trestles.

John’s day of judgment at the hands of our Brazilian favouring deity has been avoided, for how long, who knows.

WSL Women’s Championship Tour Leaderboard Final 5:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 29,970 pts
2 – Tatiana Weston Webb (BRA) 26,495 pts
3 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 22,035 pts
4 – Caroline Marks (USA) 21,305 pts
5 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 19,965 pts

WSL Men’s Championship Tour Leaderboard Final 5:
1 – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 28,920 pts
2 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 24,150 pts
3 – Filipe Toledo (BRA) 20,735 pts
4 – John John Florence (HAW) 19,395 pts
5 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 19,185 pts

Taj Burrow in 1999, shot for Transworld by the great Steve Sherman aka @tsherms.

Forty-two-year-old retired pro surfer Taj Burrow to compete at Rottnest Island WCT event! “How do you press eject from the ride? It’s a thrilling way to live!”

"(He) still displays skills neither withered by age nor retirement…"

Taj Burrow, who’ll turn forty-three in June but who still displays skills neither withered by age nor retirement, will return to Championship Tour competition on May 16 when he competes in the Rip Curl Rottnest Search. 

Burrow, who amassed a fortune as a pro surfer, twenty-five years with Billabong, nearly as long with Globe, and who wisely built a vast property portfolio to see him through his sunset years, ain’t doing it for the cash, clearly, but as an opportunity to perform in front of a home crowd.

His career was stellar, refused a seat on the  WCT tour when he was seventeen, won rookie of the year when he did turn up, was runner-up twice to the world title, won twelve events, is a Pipeline Master, and he amassed ten million dollars in prizemoney, as well as a reputation for being “aggressively virile”.

“How do you press eject from this ride?” Taj told me a few years aback, “It’s a thrilling way to live…

The Rottnest event, which is gonna be a closed-shop to spectators, lights up at Strickland Bay, a B-plus sorta wave on the west side of the island, from Many 16 to 26.

Pip Toledo, dominates final at Margaret River.

Breaking: Filipe Toledo, Tatiana Weston-Webb win Margaret River Pro, “It’s the stuff God hits your ass with when he doesn’t want to kill ya – just slow ya down!”

Brazil's clean sweep at Margaret River… 

In good enough four-to-six-foot waves at Main Break, although paltry in comparison to the epic barrels across the channel at The Box, Brazil took both gender divisions at the Margaret River Pro, Filipe, men, Tats, gals. 

Filipe, who’s just turned twenty-six, won his ninth event in nine finals, beating the South African surfer, Jordy Smith, thirty-three. A little irony is the last time he won an event, Rio in 2019, he also beat Jordy.

Tatiana, who holds duel citizenships, USA and Brazil, easily beat the seven-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore, whose slinky Gold Coast style and boards felt like an ill-fitting suit in the raw, ie imperfect, Indian Ocean waves.

Filipe made use of the poignancy that marks all great performances, his vulnerability in waves over three feet, not apparent today, although Margaret River is very different to Teahupoo, Pipe.

It was a wild day, although not always for good reason. 

First, the decision to ignore stand-up barrels at the Box, thereby denying female surfers the chance to unite opinion toward the equal work equal pay ethos. 

Second, the broadcast missed significant moments throughout the day as it cut to a static, wide-angle shot of the lineup, ostensibly a placement shot for advertising in various markets although Australia, the Americans, saw nothing. 

The men’s final was well underway before viewers got to peek behind the curtain. 

Finals day analysis, by Steve “Longtom” Shearer, to follow.

Jack Robinson hijacks WSL feed at Margaret River; transmits via Instagram Live from the Box after controversial decision to keep contest at Main Break!

Meanwhile at The Box… 

In a move unpopular with fans, the WSL made the decision this morn to finish the Margaret River Pro at Main Break and not at The Box, one of the world’s most spectacular righthand tubes.

Saving the day, and featuring bullish commentary from the channel, is Jack Robinson, who famously schooled Filipe Toledo at the Box two years ago.

Let’s recall Longtom’s report from 2019,

Local wildcard Jack Robinson who made the rest of the field look like kooks, in the same way he did at North Point last year.

“Just another day for me,” he said. “I do what I do”.

While WSL cams are peeled on Main Break, Jackie’s telephone is, or at least was, filming from the Box.

Waves, not as inconsistent as y’think, and some biggish holes.

Better, I think, than Main Break and, perhaps, unwise not to complete event there.

Very good chance for girls to prove to world etc.

Comment live, Margaret River Pro, Finals Day! “Eight-to-ten-foot, twelve-foot faces!” says Surfline

Real talk.

Ain’t no Facebook or YouTube broadcast.

Watch finals day here. 

(Griff gets walk-through to semi’s ’cause of John John’s tweaked knee.)

And comment in the pane below.