Local wildcards can be a daunting prospect for full-time CT surfers, but none are as big of a threat as Jack Robinson competing at the Box. Today current World No. 4 Filipe Toledo was eliminated by the wildcard in epic 10-12 foot conditions. While Toledo struggled to find a score of significance, Robo dropped a heat total of 18.57 (9.23 + 9.30), the highest of the 2019 Championship Tour season.
"It's pretty much as good as it gets out there - - especially if you're on the good ones, but it's just another day surfing the Box for me," said Robinson, who lives so close to the wave he pilots a drone from his bedroom to check the conditions each morning. "I don't doubt Filipe Toledo one bit. He's a good friend of mine but as soon as we get in the water - that guy is gnarly. I was just doing what I do and having fun."
Kelly Slater put the conditions in perspective after his Round 16 win over Willian Cardoso. "Today is a memorable day on Tour and in life really," said Slater. "These conditions, if you get to surf with one guy out at The Box, I would say is the day of the year for us on Tour."
Robinson was granted the wildcard as the highest placed Western Australian surfer on the QS, where he is currently ranked fifth place. Last week he was in Chile, preparing to surf a QS event, when he received the late call up. The long flight home meant he missed the Seeding Round, but his performance today puts him into the Round of 16. If the competition is held again at the Box, he will be a favorite to win.
"It's just local knowledge. I mean he has been surfing here since, what, he was four?" said Toledo afterwards. "He probably just got the best two scores of the whole event -- I'm already calling it. But it's hard to take. That one felt like a knock-out to me."
While Toledo was exaggerating somewhat, Robinson did enter the public eye at a ridiculously young age. He was just 12-years-old when the first videos showing a tiny grom with a shock of blonde hair navigating some of Western Australia's heaviest tubes first alerted the surfing world to his potential. In the interim he has established himself as one of the key players at some of the world's heaviest waves such as Pipeline and Teahupoo.
"I'm still young and people forget that sometimes," Robinson told the WSL earlier in the year. "I'm learning and always trying to improve all aspects of my surfing. I mean being a good freesurfer and getting crazy clips is cool, but the CT is where I want to be. Right now I just want to make heats."
His passion and ambition converged today at the wave he has made his own. Such was Robinson's dominance, his first two waves scored a 8.5 and a 7.60, yet didn't count in his final heat tally. Those two discarded waves would have won every other heat surfed today.
Robinson will now face rookie Seth Moniz in the Round of 16. Despite both surfers being 21-years-old, they have been freesur sparring partners at Pipeline for years and Moniz is staying with Robinson for the event. Moniz showed his barrel riding form with an incredible 8.10 today, but will need some magic to overcome Robinson's combination of knowledge, technique and fearlessness if the competition is held at the Box.
"This event is a bonus for me. I'm getting warmed up to join the CT full time," warned Robinson. "I would like to take it all the way, but I'm just seeing what happens."
Noteable and Quotable From Day 3 of the Margaret River Pro
-Italo Ferreira set the tone for the day after earning an 8.17 on his first wave at The Box, ever. "When I made that wave I was, like, oh my God that is one of the best barrels I have ever made," said Ferreira.
-Leonardo Fioravanti and Jadson Andre fell victim to the heavy conditions. Fioravanti's injury occurred during a morning warm-up at the Box, prior to the event start. The shoulder injury forced him to withdraw from his heat against Jordy Smith. Although Jadson Andre was eliminated by Julian Wilson -- he was able to walk away from his wipeout with only minor cuts.