Don’t let the webcast fool you. The crowd at the 2023 Surf Ranch Pro was definitely fired up. And it wasn’t a small contingent, either. That crowd was fired up to frolic in the pond next to the wave and paddle SUPs, pumped to drink beers, pumped to sing Brazilian songs for their Brazilian heroes, and definitely pumped to watch the surfing.
Carissa Moore, in typical Carissa Moore fashion, nabbed the 28th Championship Tour victory of her career (second all time) and her second win at the Surf Ranch, defeating Caroline Marks in the final. “I had no idea,” she told me after. “I heard the stat (about 28 wins) and thought, ‘that’s really cool.’ To win at the Surf Ranch, and in this fashion made it extra sweet.”
With the win, Carissa dons the yellow jersey, taking it from Tyler Wright who surprisingly bowed out in the opening round yesterday. This was Carissa’s third victory of the year after Pipe and Margaret River. Her surfing just seemed more refined, more powerful and controlled than almost anyone else in the field – save for maybe Marks and Caity Simmers. So it’s another year and another commanding lead for Carissa as she works towards that Final Five at Trestles. As she’s mentioned, she wants to avoid another colossal meltdown in the final this time around.
Caroline also moved up to fourth in the rankings, into that coveted Final Five positioning. Her year has certainly been a comeback of sorts: she’s now finished second at the Ranch and Sunset, to go with a third at Margaret River. Simmers, who as mentioned, also had a strong event, actually looked as comfortable as any surfer on the mechanical wave. She moved into fifth with her semi-final finish.
The final between Italo Ferreira and Griffin Colapinto was all fireworks. Griffin made his final after Filipe Toledo had been all-world all weekend – and then promptly fell inexplicably on a crucial right-hand wave in the semis. Italo was himself in form, with crisp rail surfing that combined nicely with his signature airs – and uncontainable energy: in the night session he actually beat his head against his own board to fuel the crowd (or maybe himself).
But the judging panel seemingly rewarded Griffin’s crisp, vertical power surfing over Italo’s air game (Italo landed two reverses on his final right-hand wave, needing a 9.07, and was surprised, call it supremely disappointed, he didn’t get the score. And he may have had a case.) Still, the Californian nabbed the third CT victory of his career and took over the yellow jersey from Joao Chianca.
I asked Griffin about the Surf Ranch naysayers after.
“I love this format,” he said. “All those naysayers should be backpedaling after seeing this contest with man-on-man and that night session. There’s so much drama with that last-minute pressure cooking, how could you not like that? Whoever’s saying that stuff, I think this should change their minds.”
Mr. Colapinto also wants to win a world title the old fashioned way (in-season points) before heading into the Final Five at Trestles. “I would really like to finish the regular season at number one because that’s originally how you won the world title,” he said. “Then go to the Final Five and win that too. The original way doesn’t get much hype but I really want to do that for myself. Just being consistent a whole year is so difficult.”
The tour now moves to El Salvador and Punta Roca.
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