It was moving day at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona as World Champions both won big and lost big in clean, rippable two- to three-foot lefts and rights. Gabriel Medina flew the highest with his lofty 9-point punt, while his Brazilian rival Italo Ferreira couldn't put all the pieces together.
Meanwhile, Carissa Moore continued her quest for a fifth World Title as she found her way to the Quarterfinals. And seven-time World Champ Stephanie Gilmore showed signs of life with a signature performance. In case you missed any of the action, here's what you need to know:
Italo Makes Emotional Exit From The Event
There were several results today which few would have been hard to see coming, chief among them, Conner Coffin beating defending World Champion Italo Ferreira in a punchy, left-hand beachbreak with an end-section ramp.
But his polished power turns won out against Italo's airs in a buzzer-beater finish that sparked an emotional reaction from the Brazilian. He wasn't impressed, destroying a surfboard first in the shower, then finishing the job in the athlete's locker room.
It was a close result. Italo got the score he needed to take the lead, and right on the buzzer Connor did just enough to take it back. This was an event he was a favorite to win, and the close result clearly stung.
"I guess we were perfectly tied, but I didn't know, I didn't hear," Coffin said after his win. "But apparently if I got better than a 4.33 I won, and I got a 5.83 so that's even better."
Cibilic Still Too Much For Florence To Handle
Another big upset came when Morgan Cibilic once again beat John John Florence. The two first met a couple weeks ago in Newcastle, and when they matched up again on Day 3 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, there's no doubting a solid chunk of the audience was expecting Florence to shut down the rookie's fairytale run.
Instead, Cibilic cracked the biggest turns of the event so far to once again eliminate the top seed. Florence, a fellow natural-footer, tried to match him on backside turns on the left but the truth is he couldn't find the same waves, or hit the lip with the same amount of power -- and for this 30-minute window, Cibilic was the better surfer. Importantly, he's proved he's no flash-in-the-pan.
When asked what was going through his head before paddling out for the heat, Ciblic said, "Just go big, I'm versing John John Florence and I need to surf out of my skin."
"These waves are a bit more suited to me than maybe a little right-hander, just because, I don't know, I've just gone left maybe a little bit more in my life and I feel pretty confident going backside. I was feeling really good going into that, and I'm happy with how it turned out."
Can Anyone Stop Carissa Moore?
Current world number one Carissa Moore managed to comfortably move past Brisa Hennessy, employing a mixture of powerful surfing and nerves-of-steel heat strategy. Moore let one of the best waves seen all day go by unridden to hold onto priority, securing her spot in the Quarterfinals.
"I don't really know what I was thinking because I can't recall at this moment, but maybe I just thought it was going to go a little fast, so I thought, 'Hey maybe I'll wait with priority and be a bit smart, play a bit of strategy,'" Moore explained afterwards.
Seven-time World Champ Gilmore also moved onto the Quarterfinals, defeating Sage Erickson by concentrating on the right-hander. Sage was strong on her backhand, surfing the left, but Gilmore and any sort of right -- especially one she's got to herself -- is going to be hard to beat.
Medina's One Air To Rule Them All
Also booking a slot in the Quarterfinals was Gabriel Medina, whose big backside air had one of the cleanest landings we've seen so far in this Australian leg. He was rewarded with a 9.00, the first of this event. This was in a heat against the proven giant-killer Caio Ibelli, a surfer with whom he has an interesting history centered around a pair of contentious 2019 interference calls, first in Portugal and later at Pipeline, Hawaii.
With Ferreira out of the event, and having drawn Rookie Cibilic in the quarters, Medina is squarely in the driver's seat as the favorite to win and take back the yellow leader's jersey.
Wright Knocked Out As Defay Gets On A Roll
In a power vs. power matchup, current world number two Tyler Wright was eliminated by Johanne Defay, who posted her third excellent-range score in the final minute of their duel to take the win. Defay has been the form backhand surfer of the women's draw, which she's credited in part to time spent surfing the famous left of St Leu on Reunion Island, where she grew up.
"This feels so good and I had a little cry out the back," Defay said. "It's insane how much pressure I was feeling in that heat. A few times she went on the first wave and the second one was better, which was so good and the fact I was able to perform well on them just felt so good for me. I'm so, so stoked."
What To Look Forward To
With Medina, Moore, Gilmore and all the other rookie and veteran stories playing out, there's a seriously stacked Finals day coming up. It's also a field devoid of some top seeds, so we might just see someone claim their first-ever Championship Tour victory.
How this thing ends is anybody's guess at this point, so stay tuned for the next call from Narrabeen.