The Inertia for Good Editor

Vahine Fierro. Photo: Ed Sloane// WSL

The Inertia

The women of the Championship Tour turned in another historic day, this time in all-time conditions at Teahupo’o. Local regular Vahine Fierro became the first wildcard event winner on the women’s side of a CT event at Teahupo’o (and the first French Polynesian champion). The yellow jersey was passed on from Caity Simmers to Brisa Hennessy — a tour vet who was buried at the bottom of the rankings just over two months ago when the WSL left Portugal. And we may have just watched Carissa Moore surf as a Championship Tour competitor one last time, as the five-time world champ’s future plans still haven’t been declared beyond an appearance in this summer’s Olympic Games.

Still, with all those storylines running through Finals Day of the Outerknown Tahiti Pro, the collective performances in such remarkable conditions took centerstage.

The ASP yanked Tahiti from the women’s tour after 2006, citing safety concerns, and the women weren’t brought back to Teahupo’o at the CT level until 2022. To put it bluntly, the women’s CT took a 15-year hiatus from Teahupo’o precisely because of days like Wednesday. With all eyes on overlapping swells through the entire contest window, it might have felt like business as usual had the WSL made the call for women to compete on any of the previous laydays. But after promoting all-time conditions promised for the end of the event window it was clear the League intended to give its athletes a chance at another history-making day, a la Finals Day of this year’s Pipe Pro when Caitlin Simmers declared, “Pipeline’s for the fucking girls.” Ten, 12, even 15-foot bombs unloaded on the reef at the End of the Road with two women taking the spotlight at a time.

Wednesday’s semifinal matchup between Tatiana Weston-Webb and Fierro will go down as one of the best in women’s surfing history. Weston-Webb was the only surfer to notch an excellent wave score to that point in the day, an 8.50 that secured her quarterfinal win over Tyler Wright. Then it got spicy. The closing minutes of the Fierro-Weston-Webb matchup saw multiple lead changes with high scores on impressive set waves. Teahupo’o turned on at just the right time with Fierro already holding a 16.07 heat score and Weston-Webb chasing a combo deficit. The Brazilian barely broke that combo with a 6.07 and still needed an unlikely 10-point ride to fight off elimination. Teahupo’o delivered.

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Fierro would need another excellent score after Weston-Webb’s massive perfect 10 – and she got that and then some inside the final two minutes of the heat. A clutch 9.63 came just late enough to hold off another significant exchange from Weston-Webb (even though she sent it on a wave that didn’t deliver at the buzzer).

“This is women’s surfing. We’re doing it,” an excited Weston-Webb said with a clap just moments after her heat. “I feel like I won the contest but obviously I didn’t.”

Fierro still had some magic left when her turn came in the final against new yellow-jersey owner Brisa Hennessy. The women’s final was noticeably slower than the historic semifinal, with each surfer taking just three waves. Fierro, who will represent France (and more specifically, the village of Teahupo’o) in this summer’s Olympic competition, put up one more excellent wave score. It was enough to fight off the new world number one and become the “Queen of Teahupo’o,” as crowned by Hennessy in the post-heat interview.

“Thank you to Jessi (Myley-Dyer) for trusting the women because we were more than capable out there,” Fierro said after the win. “It’s just insane. Thank you Teahupo’o. You’re so special, and thank you for sending me the best waves of my life.”

Now we wait and see if Teahupo’o chooses to deliver more of the same come July.


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