The Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona was an event which got better, day by day, as the surf built, the wind improved and the two World Champions who took it out upped their games in each and every heat.
Carissa Moore Dominantly Reclaims The Yellow Jersey
Now, having already locked in the best result of her career, she was up against a four-time Champion in Carissa Moore who has used this event to put her peers on notice after dropping the biggest air ever seen in a women's Championship Tour event, while also putting together a goose-bump inducing power surfing masterclass in the Semifinals.
But in the end, it was Moore who presided over one of the most dominant victories we've seen in a recent Championship Tour heat. She's now officially reclaimed the yellow Leader's Jersey.
"Oh my gosh it feels amazing, I don't know what I expected coming into this event but I was just taking it heat by heat and it feels so good to be standing number one a the end of this contest," Moore said after winning.
Another New Leader After A Powerhouse Rematch
The last time Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina met in a Championship Tour final, there was a World Championship and a Pipe Masters trophy on the line. Ferreira took the win on both counts, and today at Merewether beach he got another one over Medina, who had been in excellent form throughout the entire event.
Italo linked a series of carving back-hand turns and waited patiently on a barely-breaking wave in case it presented an opportunity on the inside bank. It did, and he added an air reverse for a 7.17 which put him into the lead. His signature move, a big backside full-rotation air, also banked him a 7.77 for a lead he held throughout most of the heat.
Medina locked in a 8.60 for three tight, big backside turns, one of them almost vertical, immediately after he'd ridden out of the previous hit, but it wasn't enough to move past the energy of Italo.
"This guy's a machine, he pushes me a lot. It's going to be a good run, for sure, we have three more events in Australia," Ferreira said in his post-heat interview of the rivalry between the two Brazilians.
This final also put the two men on Brazil's Olympic surf team up against one another, and while only one of them could win here today, it's a shot across the bows for the other teams going for gold in Toyko.
The Other Olympic Super Heat
With a building south swell and a soft offshore breeze, Moore earlier took down Caroline Marks, her USA Olympic surfing team mate, with an unbelievable display of power surfing for one of the highest heat totals of the event, a 17.74. Moore yesterday displayed another reinvention of her approach with a giant air which put the younger generation on notice, and now she's rolled past Marks, the flag bearer of that up-and-coming contingent.
A Match-up With A Guaranteed Hero And Heartbreak
Morgan Cibilic's run through this event had been such a fairytale story that some may have forgotten there was another local hero pushing his way through, Ryan Callinan. These two met in the Quarters, and only one of them could win, which meant Newcastle was guaranteed a berth in the Semifinals, but also a touch of heartbreak when one of these two were inevitably eliminated.
Just to ensure everyone's nerves were shattered by the end, it went literally as close as it could with the heat ending in a draw. Though as Cibilic had the highest single wave score, a 5.70, it was the Rookie who advanced to the Semifinals, securing easily the best result of his young career so far.
While he was eventually taken out by Medina in the Semifinal, it's a career-best result for the young Rookie.
Who's Looking Hot Going Into Narrabeen?
On the men's side, two big takeaways are that Ferreira means business when it comes to defending his title; it was no fluke and he's ready to go toe-to-toe anywhere, any time.
But it's also clear Medina's new approach, changing his coach and traveling with his wife, is at worst having no ill effect, but at likely best is setting him up for some of the best surfing of his career.
Meanwhile, Moore has put every young surfer on the women's CT who has been gunning for her on notice. We'll see her pull airs like that out in heats more often, that's for sure.
But there's no doubt there's a new generation, such as Nichols, who are finding a level of maturity in their surfing and heat strategy that's going to see them in the business end of the draw more often.