Big Barrels and Bigger Scores For World’s Best at Teahupo’o
In an unbelievable performance, South African CT sophomore Matt McGilivray (RSA), who surfed Teahupo’o for the first time yesterday, scored a perfect 10 point ride in Heat 2 of the Round of 16, with an incredible fins-free drop into a deep, square tube, disappearing from sight then getting spat out into the channel. His opponent Samuel Pupo (BRA), took the heat to the final buzzer, posting a heat total of 16.43, but McGillivray was able to find a 7.00 in the dying seconds to claim the heat win of his career and book himself a spot in the Quarterfinals.
“I could feel the nerves all morning and right before I was going to paddle out,” said McGilivray . “All morning I have been feeling the adrenaline. To have these conditions in the contest is a dream come true and to surf it with only one other person out is amazing. You really have to be in the moment and calm yourself. It was cool to surf with Sammy (Pupo), he has been charging in his heats so it’s cool to see everyone pushing it out there today. I’m stoked to be through the Quarterfinals here and can’t wait to get back out there.”
Pictured: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) on his way to scoring a perfect 10-point ride today at the Outerknown Tahiti Pro. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
The standout heat of the day was World No. 2 Robinson going up against event wildcard and former Tahiti Pro finalist Nathan Hedge (AUS) in Heat 5, Round of 16. Robinson, an event favorite, demonstrated his barrel riding skills, navigating the foam-ball with a high-line to score a 9.10, then backed it up for a heat total of 17.60, leaving Hedge in a combination situation (needing two new scores to take the lead). With less than 10 minutes left, the 43-year-old Hedge never gave up and found two hugely committed barrels to post a heat total of 18.30, the highest of the entire event, to overcome Robinson’s 17.60 total.
“At the start of that heat Jack (Robinson) really showed me what was up,” Hedge said. “He paddled behind me for one and the only person that has done that to me out here was Andy (Irons), and I was like, ‘he’s gnarly’ which was a fair bit to deal with mentally for me. I knew If I was to beat Jack (Robinson) I’d have to be on the biggest best waves. He kept improving his scores on every wave but I just kept patient and held onto the faith and eventually the right ones came to me. When I’m paddling into these waves I just remind myself that this is where I want to be and to stay super committed and that quietens down the noise a bit and I can focus on getting pitted.”
Pictured: Wildcard Nathan Hedge (AUS) was the standout performer today at the Outerknown Tahiti Pro. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
Hedge will face off against Caio Ibelli (BRA) who was a huge standout in the Round of 16 and Opening Round. Ibelli took down an in-form Jordy Smith (RSA) to lock in a matchup with old friend Hedge in Quarterfinal Heat 3.
Five-time Tahiti Pro winner Kelly Slater (USA) is into Quarterfinals after a close heat against an in-form Connor O’Leary (AUS). Slater opened the heat with back-to-back waves scoring in the excellent range for a two-wave total of 17.00 . O’Leary answered back with two excellent scores of his own but it wasn’t enough to overtake Slater, who will now take on Yago Dora (BRA) in Quarterfinal Heat 2 as he looks for his sixth victory at Teahupo’o.
The 2022 Outerknown Tahiti Pro looks to conclude tomorrow with the men’s and women’s event winners being crowned by the end of the day. Be sure to tune in as a call is made at 6:45 a.m. TAHT for a possible 7:05 a.m. start to competition.