With the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona now in the books, the mega Australia leg of the 2021 Championship Tour is now at the halfway point. We saw Gabriel Medina and Caroline Marks put in huge performances to top the podium and further assert themselves in the race for the World Title, while there were also brilliant stories of underdogs coming up big and breakout performances from a few familiar faces. The WSL's crack photo staff was on the beach and in the water to capture all of the action. Here are some of the most memorable moments from a week in Narrabeen that certainly did not disappoint:
Even The Drones Couldn't Keep Up With Medina's Air Game
Making three Finals in three events, and finally winning one with his victory in Narrabeen, Medina's virtually well on his way to securing the number one seed for the season-ending Rip Curl WSL Finals. The only question at this point is can anybody stop him?
"I haven't had this winning feeling for a while and it feels amazing," Medina said. "It feels good to put on that sort of a performance in a Final. Sticking my airs and hearing the crowd chant my name was really cool. I've had a few finals recently but was making some mistakes, but it feels good to come back here and fix my mistakes."
Marks Makes Her Move
We've been waiting for Caroline Marks to make her presence felt in 2021, and the 19-year-old future Olympian did just that in Narrabeen. Showing there's more to her game than a devastating backhand attack, her forehand power game was on point throughout the event.
"I feel so emotional actually after everything that's led to getting here," Marks said. "I'm just so stoked. This is the sickest feeling ever. This has been really fun. It's been so sick to go left in an event. Narrabeen has been amazing, and I want to thank all the locals for letting us take over this epic wave for the week. I also want to thank my family, support crew, and WSL for getting me here. I'm over the moon."
Thank You Narrabeen
One of the most iconic and influential surf communities in all of Australia, Narrabeen opened its arms for the Championship Tour and welcomed all the surfers. With a consistent run of south swell and great conditions, the surf throughout the event ranged from waist-high to overhead and delivered plenty of lefts and rights for competitors to tee off on.
Coffin's Rail Game Reaps Unexpected Rewards
In a contest that was dominated by the high-flying antics of Medina and Ferreira, Conner Coffin brought a little of that classic old school style with his powerful, vertical backhand attack. It was enough to overtake Italo Ferreira and earn him his first Finals appearance since 2016.
"Coming up against Italo, I knew I'd have to be on the best waves so I tried to stay patient and take the sets," Coffin explained. "I saw him flying around in the air and could hear the crowd going crazy and had to just compose myself and stick to my guns and luckily I did."
The Sound And Fury Of Italo
Losing at the buzzer always stings, and when Ferreira found himself on short end of the stick against Coffin he was none too happy. Stomping his board in half in the competitor's area, the call was one of the more controversial of the 2021 season and ignited fierce debate on social media. Either way, the result will surely fuel Ferreira's fire as he now turns his boundless energy to Western Australia.
Weston-Webb Finds Her Groove
After upsetting rating's leader Carissa Moore to earn herself a spot in the Final, Brazil's Tatiana Weston-Webb has climbed up to number three on the WSL Leaderboard and is setting herself for a spot in the Rip Curl WSL Finals this September.
"Going left in an event for me is a dream come true for me," Weston-Webb said. "I was proud of my surfing this week in Narrabeen. Newcastle definitely wasn't my best result. Even though I felt like I surfed well there I felt like I didn't capitalize on my opportunities. Coming to Narrabeen was all about a change of pace and momentum for myself and just to show everyone that I've been working on my surfing a lot. Now we head to West Oz, which is a place I love, so I'm looking forward to keeping a roll going."
Don't Call It A Comeback
After enjoying all that dad life has to offer, Mick Fanning pulled the jersey back on in Narrabeen as a wildcard. The three-time World Champ's final heat before retiring in 2018 was the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Final against Ferreira. In a deja vu rematch of that heat, the Brazilian took Fanning out once again.
"One of the reasons why I chose Narrabeen was because if I came back at a place like J-Bay or a place like Bells, there would be probably more expectation for me to do well," Fanning explained prior to the start of the event. "Events like those were staples in my World Title campaigns. Narrabeen is probably not, a left hand beach break and when you are going up against guys like Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreria in lefts, I don't have the weapons they have. I think that was more of the challenge to me. The expectation goes out the window once I go to an event like Narrabeen."
Rookie Cibilic's Dream Fun Continues
CT rookie Morgan Cibilic continued to upset the CT, taking down two-time WSL Champion John John Florence for the second time in as many events. After overcoming Florence in the Round of 32 at Newcastle, Cibilic proved his performance wasn't a flash in the pan, dominating the heat with a phenomenal display of backside, fins-free surfing. His run was ultimately cut short by Medina in the Quarterfinals.
"It feels good to know I could back up my result at Newcastle," said Cibilic. "I know I have it in me, but it definitely feels good to have two wins over someone like John. I know he's so good in big waves, so I'd love to match up with him in West Oz and see if I can go again."
Moore Still In Firm Control Of WSL Leaderboard
After making two Finals in a row to start her 2021 campaign, Moore had to settle for a very respectable Semifinal result in Narrabeen. She still has a 5,000 point lead over her next closest rival on the WSL Leaderboard, Caroline Marks. And with a history of success at Margaret River, her quest for a fifth World Title will continue in earnest.