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Gabriel Medina and Carissa Moore Return to Form with Wins at Margaret River

Margaret River Winners 2023

 

After a relatively quiet 2022 that saw Gabriel Medina miss out on the top five world title showdown at the end of the season, the three-time world champ started came into 2023 as a bit of an afterthought. His performances during the first four events of the season did little to remedy this, as he lost in the round of 16 four times in a row. His string of equal ninth place finishes were enough to ensure his spot on tour during the back half of the year, but without a solid event, the Brazilian wunderkind was not looking like the Medina we have become use to seeing.

That all changed yesterday, when Gabriel Medina went on a tear at Margaret River Main Break. The Brazilian superstar beat fellow countryman and defending world champion Felipe Toledo and current world number one Joao Chianca on his way to the finals, where he was pitted against Californian upstart Griffin Colapinto. The heat was all Medina all the way, as he ended up winning by more than five points, claiming the first goofy-footed win at Margaret River in over a decade and catapulting himself up the ratings into seventh place.

At the same time, solid results from Chianca, Colapinto, and Ethan Ewing saw them maintain spots in the top five (first, fourth, and fifth, respectively), while Jack Robinson held onto his third-place rating, despite missing the event at his home break due to injury. John John Florence had made four out of the past six finals at Margaret River coming into the event and continued his dominance at the event by surfing into the semifinals, where he came up against a rampaging Colapinto. Although Florence failed to make the finals for the fifth time, his second third-place finish in a row caps a strong Australian leg and solidifies his ranking at sixth, setting him up for a run toward the final five in the back half of the season.

On the women’s side of the draw, things seemed to shift back into familiar territory after an early season that has tended to favor the fresh faces on tour. Top-ranked surfer Molly Picklum lost relatively early (for her) in the quarterfinals and slipped from first to third on the ratings.

Meanwhile, it was a battle of the powerhouse veterans in the final, where Carissa Moore ended up beating Tyler Wright and moving into second position on the ratings. Surprisingly, Wright moved into the yellow jersey on the merits of her second-place finish, which backed up a dominant win at Bells Beach earlier this month. The women’s top five are rounded out by Americans Caroline Marks and rookie Caitlin Simmers in fourth and fifth, respectively. Defending world champ Steph Gilmore finds herself just outside the top five in sixth place, where she trails Simmers by less than 2,000 points.

The focus on tour now turns toward qualifying for the Rip Curl WSL Finals in September, where only the top five rated men and women on tour will fight for the 2023 world title. There’s a pretty big gap between the top seven and the rest of the men’s tour at the moment, so, barring a big move from someone farther down the ratings, the big battle is currently between Ewing, Florence, and Medina. Meanwhile, Tatiana Weston-Webb is currently tied with Steph Gilmore in equal sixth, so either surfer is positioned to make a move into the top five with a strong finish at one of the remaining stops on tour.

The world tour moves in May to the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California—an event that always tends to be a bit of a wild card due to the unique format. From there, it head to the right-hand points of El Salvador, the beach breaks of Rio, the classic venue of Jeffreys Bay, and the death-defying barrels of Teahupoo (which will also serve as the site of the 2024 Olympics). In other words, we still have a long way to go to the world title showdown, and a lot could happen between now and then. It’s time for the remaining surfers on tour to buckle down and get busy!