There's a new Men's Leader, and one of the most promising, talented young surfers in competitive history has risen to No. 2 on the Women's Side, with the current Yellow Jersey holder Carissa Moore firmly in her sights. Finals Day of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona saw clean, 2-3 foot waves, mostly lefts, with plenty of air sections, and even a few barrels. Here's what went down.
Gabriel Medina Is Absolutely Unstoppable Right Now
The best way to describe Gabriel Medina in this event, is as a human highlight reel. He's solidified the fact that he does his best surfing in heats, and that these performances could be stitched together into a freesurf film that would go toe-to-toe on an ability level with just about anyone. What's scary is that Medina usually takes a few events to warm up. This year, he's come out swinging.
Medina hasn't missed a final all year, and is now back on top of the podium and the world rankings. He hit sections today that very few people on the planet would attempt airs off, with all the pressure of an elite-level heat.
As Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew said on the broadcast, the gymnastic ability he brings to surfing is unmatched.
In his final against Conner Coffin, he's essentially stitched it up with 20 minutes to go, with an 18.77 heat total (out of a possible 20). Coffin's only way to win would have been to go to the air, and that's just not his strong suit. Still, this was his second Finals appearance, and the first since 2016, so a solid result for the Californian.
"I finally could surf the way I wanted to in a final, just with waves and stick my airs, that felt really good," Medina said. "It feels good to win, I was missing this feeling."
Marks Climbs To Number Two In The World
Weston-Webb has been one of the fastest, most dynamic surfers of the event, but she was left chasing a 5.54 needed in the last ten minutes of the heat, with Marks in the lead.
It wasn't a question of her surfing, but rather a wave with a steep enough section to put her forehand carves on display. Some of the waves were flattening out, and it was only the ones which really stood up which could offer the score required.
Marks on the other hand found the right canvases to really open up, in what was the first all-goofy foot final on the Women's Tour since Honolua Bay in 2006.
"I'm just so grateful to be here, the crowd has been amazing. I don't even know what to say, I'm over the moon," Marks said.
Morgan Cibilic Is No Ordinary Rookie
Morgan Cibilic can hold his head up high, after being eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Medina. He had Medina on the ropes throughout the heat, until the two-time Brazilian launched an air on a section few people in the world would attempt one on, let alone ride cleanly out of.
This has reinforced Medina's biggest strength, which is that he does his best surfing -- some of the best surfing in the world, in or out of a jersey -- during heats; his airs are the stuff that would make the closing clip of a top-shelf freesurfing film, but he's doing them in a pressure cooker of a high-stakes heat.
Regardless, Cibilic achieved something very important: No one thinks his charge to the Finals at Newcastle was a one-off now. He's the real deal. He's eliminated John John Florence twice, and given Medina a serious run for his money.
"I was pretty happy with my start, but the ocean slowed up at the end of that one," Cibilic said after the heat. "You can't give him an inch out there."
Carissa Moore's Still In Yellow
Moore leaned on her powerful backhand surfing this event, letting the fins hang out the back of the classic lefts on offer at Narrabeen, and in the end it was a close loss which will still see Moore very much on top of the world as we head to Western Australia.
The waves there, big and powerful, are similar to places like Haleiwa on the North Shore, where Moore has been putting in a lot of hours. She'll be one of the favorites at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona.
Off To Western Australia
The Tour will now head to Western Australia, for the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona and Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona. Margaret River will be important for John John Florence, who's twice now been eliminated by Cibilic, a Rookie.
But Florence has put in some of the performances of his career at Main Break, and if he gets on a run there in same way he has in the past, he'll be almost unstoppable. Watch this space.