|Round of 32 Decides Fate of Surfers on the Bubble
World Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Final 5 competitor Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) both came to Margaret River in 17th on the Rankings and in a must-win situation. It was a close match, but with moments left in the heat, Ferreira landed a huge backside air reverse to earn an excellent 9.03 (out of a possible 10). He then backed it up with an excellent 8.50 by putting together two explosive turns, giving him the highest two-wave total of the day. With the heat win, Ferreira officially made the Cut.
“To make the Cut feels so good,” Ferreira said. “It’s been a hard few days not knowing and I feel sad for my friends. It is what it is so I just do this for love. That was a great heat for sure. I wanted to get some scores early with the overlapping, so I could build once I had priority. Once we were in the priority heat, I tried for an air and missed it so it felt amazing to ride out of that one at the end. When I saw that section, I was just like, ‘Let’s go.’”
Several critical heats left some with a spot in the back half of the season and marked the end of the road for others. Tour Veteran Jordy Smith (RSA) will be able to compete in his home country as he has officially advanced to the back half of the season. Smith confirmed his spot above the Cut by taking down Samuel Pupo (BRA) with an excellent 8.00 in the Round of 32.
Callum Robson (AUS) claimed his spot above the Mid-season Cut by overcoming Jackson Baker (AUS). Robson started quickly, blasting the tail and completing a finishing maneuver to earn a solid 7.67. Baker threw several beautiful turns but couldn’t find the waves with opportunity.
After a close match, Connor O’Leary (AUS) ended Ezekiel Lau’s (HAW) hope of making the Cut. Tour veteran Kolohe Andino (USA) showed good form but fell just short of the requirement in his heat with Ryan Callinan (AUS).
Pupo, Baker, Lau, and Andino will now be relegated to the Challenger Series, where they can fight back to the 2024 Championship Tour.