In golf "Moving Day" refers to Day 3 of a four-day tournament when those on the fringes of contention bid to cement a place among the leaders while other, more likely contenders, fall away. Surfing's equivalent is the European leg of the CT. It is in France and Portugal where surfers have their last chance at improving their situation before the final event at Pipeline. But who were the biggest losers and winners? Let's take a look back.
For winners, we have to start with Gabriel Medina. The Brazilian traveled to Europe trailing Filipe Toledo by 3,100 points. By the time he was sweeping the baguette dust from the footwells of his rental car in Lisbon Airport, he'd taken the Yellow Jeep Leader Jersey and opened up a 4,740 points lead on both Toledo and Wilson. Medina had only jumped one place, but that leap could secure him a second World Title.
At the opposite end of the rankings, a place where mere mortals surf and whose best mates aren't footballers that earn $600,0000 a week, Joan Duru and Matt Wilkinson were the two who were up-voted the most. The Frenchman rose 10 places to World No. 22, mainly on the back of his Final in Portugal.
"I decided to forget about the rankings and just surf and have some fun," Duru said afterwards. Now that might not be a strategy devised in a NASA sports lab, but it sure worked. He still needs to win a few heats at Pipe to make the cut off, but his destiny lies in his own hands.
Matt Wilkinson's four spot elevation was even more surprising. He hadn't won a heat since Brazil and was totally lacking the confidence that had seen him finish inside the top five the last two years. His trademark backhand, however, reignited to secure a 9th in France and a Quarterfinal finish in Portugal - meaning he is now within touching distance of the all important top 22.
"He's as weird as ever on land," laughed Mick Fanning, "but you can see the spark returning in the water. That's pure confidence and it's great to see him surfing back at the level where he belongs."
During the women's event, leaders Stephanie Gilmore and Lakey Peterson both paddled away with a disappointing 9th and it was only Courtney Conlogue who made any rankings ground. After missing four of the first events due to an injury, the Californian has returned and gouged through the tail end of the CT field as a shark does through a school of pilchards. Her win in France took her from World No. 13 to World No. 8 and she's still hungry.
However the CT rankings are a zero sum game and in the European beachbreaks the above movers came at the expense of other shakedowns. It was Filipe Toledo who may have ceded the most ground. His two early exits meant his World Title hopes are all but over. The same could be said for his surfboard, which bore the brunt of the Brazilian's disappointment and fists after the Portugal Round 3 loss.
Willian Cardoso dropped two places, normally a negligible result, but worth mentioning as it was probably enough to hand the Rookie Of the Year Award to Wade Carmichael. The Australian maintained his World No. 7 spot over the two events. And speaking of Rookie Of The Year Connor O'Leary, last year's recipient, dropped three places and now needs a massive result at Pipe to keep his CT place. Reports that he was heard singing the sophomore blues in the locker room are unconfirmed.
Another rookie, Griffin Colapinto, also slid three places down to World No. 20. "I'm always looking at the rankings," admitted the 20-year-old, "and I'm way too close to the cut than I want to be." Colapinto's QS form means he is safe either way, but having been entrenched in the top 10 early in the season, he will be looking to Pipe to arrest his slide.
Pipe, of course, will be where all the moving and shaking stops. When the buzzer sounds for the end of the Billabong Pipe Masters, the chips will have fallen and won't be able to be moved. If Europe offered hope, Hawaii means hell or high water.