The Inertia for Good Editor

He’s in! Here’s to you Mr. Robinson. Photo: Beatriz Ryder//World Surf League

The Inertia

Other than late winds and conditions that took a turn for the worse during the last hours of it all, Finals Day at the Shiseido Tahiti Pro presented by Outerknown played out about as dramatically as surf fans could have asked for. Two spots on the men’s side of the WSL Final Five and one spot on the women’s side were up for grabs when the event window began last week. All three were still in play when Finals Day began at Teahupo’o.

Jack Robinson’s rise from 7th in the rankings to securing the final spot in next month’s WSL Finals was definitely the wildest. After spending the early leg of 2023 wearing the yellow jersey, Robinson hurt his knee at Bells and was forced to sit out of the Margaret River Pro. He came back to turn in a string of equal 17ths and it looked like the strength of that early rankings lead was going to vanish completely. Instead, his win at Pipe followed by third and second-place finishes at Sunset and Portugal kept the Australian within striking distance of a birth in the Finals.

To finish it off, Robinson would have to jump over John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, and Yago Dora all on Finals Day at Teahupo’o. To top it off, he drew a head-to-head semifinal matchup against Leo Fioravanti, who was also within reach of the Final 5 and fighting for his own invitation to Trestles. But no task was bigger than taking down three-time champ Medina, especially with the performance the Brazilian put on through the first half of their heat. Medina came out the gates swinging, posting a 6.83 within seconds of the buzzer starting the clock. A few waves later he scored an 8.17 and looked like he was going to put the whole thing out of reach. Robinson stayed patient even while in combo, and kept grinding, matching 7.83s to nab the lead while catching just four waves the entire heat.

Things didn’t quite come down to the wire in the women’s draw, but the events of the day did set the table for more than just a World Title on the line at Trestles. Caity Simmers secured the fifth and final spot when Stephanie Gilmore lost in the quarterfinals to Caroline Marks. Ironically, with Simmers now competing at the WSL Finals, that leaves the door open for the second and final spot on Team USA for the 2024 Olympics. Yes, that’ll be decided at Trestles too.

By the time the two met in the women’s final (at what will be the Olympic venue, nonetheless), conditions were pretty sloppy. The heat stopped being a barrel-riding contest and instead turned into a take-what-you-can-get, low-scoring affair. Both surfers caught fewer than 10 waves combined while Teahupo’o mostly shut down for 40 minutes. Marks did take a small peak for a 3.90 to pad her lead in the final minutes, but she wouldn’t need it in the end.

Marks goes into the WSL Finals ranked third on the leaderboard, making her first career appearance at the event after missing the cut by one spot in 2021. Simmers, meanwhile, wrapped up an impressive rookie season in which she won events in Portugal and Rio.


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