Matt and Jordy Make the Cut, the Goat Does Not

August 29, 2023
BIG MATT: Matthew McGillivray advanced to the Round of 16 and made the cut. Credit: WSL / Hughes

Jordy Smith and Matt McGillivray will ensure their presence at the Corona J-Bay Open when they made the mid-season cut at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro yesterday, although it was sad to see the Goat Kelly Slater drop short.

The two South Africans both made the Round of 16 where they fell short, but will be relieved to have done enough to continue their season and surf in front of their friends and family at CT Stop No.9, the Corona Open J-Bay from 13-22 July 2023.

Main Break at Margies provided another flawless day at the fifth event on the WSL Championship Tour (CT). For the fourth straight day, competitors were treated to light winds and cooking 6-8ft surf.

The men’s Quarterfinalists and women’s Semifinalists were decided, setting the stage for an epic Finals day. The action also confirmed the last spots in the women’s field. The top 22 men and 10 women who will continue the Championship Tour following the Mid-season Cut have now been locked in.  

Several critical heats left some with a spot in the back half of the season and marked the end of the road for others. Tour veteran Jordy Smith will be able to compete in his home country as he has officially advanced to the back half of the season. Smith confirmed his spot above the Cut by taking down Samuel Pupo (BRA) with an excellent 8.00 in the Round of 32. He is joined by fellow South African, Matthew McGillivray (RSA), who made the cut after defeating Seth Moniz (HAW) in the Round of 32.

In an historic heat, CT sophomore Liam O’Brien (AUS) eliminated the GOAT Kelly Slater (USA), ending his shot at making the Mid-season Cut. Both scored a near-excellent 7.83 (out of a possible 10), but O’Brien found a solid backup of 7.70. Both surfers had looked in year-best form at Margaret River, and the heat did not disappoint. With less than a minute to go, Slater had one more opportunity. He left everything out on the field, but the requirement exceeded the score. O’Brien will take on Griffin Colapinto (USA) in the Round of 16 when competition resumes, whilst Slater's competitive future remains in question for fans.

“I really felt like one of the heats where the magic was going to happen,” Slater said. “If you’re within 10 points, you got a shot if a wave comes. I felt good, I felt loose, and I didn't feel stressed about the situation. I was really enjoying the day, it’s a beautiful day, and you know, we’re breathing.”

Reigning 8X World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) confirmed her place in the second half of the season after overcoming Gabriela Bryan (HAW) in the Round of 16. She then went on to face Tyler Wright (AUS) in the Quarterfinals but was unable to progress, with Wright taking the win and moving into the Semifinals, where she will take on Caroline Marks (USA).

“So stressful, that’s far out,” said Gilmore. “To go from winning the Title to being back on the bubble again, maybe it's a nice little theory. Just sneaking in 10th, just sneaking in 5th, finishing number 1 (laughs). Thanks for the support, everyone, there are some great events after the cut, stoked to make the cut.”

FAN BASE: Jordy also made the Round of 16 to make the cut. Credit: WSL / Miers

Another Aussie CT veteran who came into the Western Australia Margaret River Pro needing a big result to make the Mid-seaon Cut was Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS). Although she looked solid in the early rounds, Fitzgibbons was unable to better Mark's excellent heat total of 16.50 (out of a possible 20) in the Quarterfinals. Fitzgibbons will finish the event in equal 5th, meaning she will fall below the Cut. With Fitzgibbons out, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) has been confirmed to claim the final spot in the second half of the season.

Gabriel Medina (BRA) will finally make his first Quarterfinals appearance of the year after overcoming Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) in the Round of 16. The three-time World Champion hopes this is the year he will make his Finals debut at Margaret River. But, he will have to overcome current World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) in the Quarterfinals.

“It looks nice out there, the day is nice, and the waves are beautiful, but there are some bumps out there,” Medina said. “Once you were used to it and focussed on it, the waves were great, and the day is perfect. I’m feeling really confident about this event. I have been focussing on heat strategy recently, and after a slow start to this year, I’m starting to feel like I’m back again, which is a really good feeling to have. I look forward to competing with Filipe (Toledo), may the best man win.”

Griffin Colapinto (USA) has advanced to the Quarterfinals after taking down dangerous competitor Liam O’Brien (AUS) in the Round of 16. O’Brien was full of confidence, coming off a landmark heat win over Kelly Slater (USA) yesterday. The two were neck-in-neck, but Colapinto was able to take the heat with an explosive end maneuver on a giant wall of water. He will now be up against Hawaii’s Barron Mamiya in Quarterfinal, Heat 3.

Matt and Jordy Make the Cut, the Goat Does Not

Heat 7 of the men’s Round of 16 was a battle of rail work versus air game as Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Italo Ferriera (BRA) went head-to-head. Always unpredictable, Ferriera took to the air on a lefthander, earning a 6.77. But, Ewing’s power turns on the open faces of Main Break resulted in an excellent 8.07 and the heat win.

Joao Chianca (BRA) and Connor O’Leary (AUS) also advanced out of their Round of 16 heats and will now face each other in the Quarterfinals.

For highlights from today's Western Australia Margaret River Pro competition, please visit

The Mid-season Cut has now reduced the CT fields to the Top 22 men and Top 10 women. These top surfers will continue through the back-half of the CT in an effort to make the WSL Final 5 and compete in the Rip Curl WSL Finals. They have also all confirmed their places for the 2024 CT season.

Women’s CT: Made the Mid-season Cut

Tyler Wright (AUS)

Molly Picklum (AUS)

Carissa Moore (HAW)

Caroline Marks (USA)

Caitlin Simmers (USA)

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)

Tatiana Weston Webb (BRA)

Lakey Peterson (USA)

Gabriela Bryan (HAW)

Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)

Men’s CT: Made the Mid-season Cut

Joao Chianca (AUS)

Jack Robinson (AUS)

Filipe Toledo (BRA)

Ethan Ewing (AUS)

Griffin Colapinto (USA)

Ryan Callinan (AUS)

John John Florence (HAW)

Yago Dora (BRA)

Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)

Caio Ibelli (BRA)

Connor O’Leary (AUS)

Callum Robson (AUS)

Gabriel Medina (BRA)

Jordy Smith (RSA)

Matthew McGillivray (RSA)

Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Liam O’Brien (AUS)

Rio Waida (INA)

Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)

Barron Mamiya (HAW)

Seth Moniz (HAW)

Ian Gentil (HAW)

Women's Round of 16 Results:

HEAT 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.16 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.17

HEAT 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.83 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 14.40

HEAT 7: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.66 DEF. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.27

HEAT 8: Caroline Marks (USA) 17.27 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 12.77

Men’s Round of 16 Results:

HEAT 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.20 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 13.80

HEAT 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.56 DEF. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 11.60

HEAT 3: Joao Chianca (BRA) 14.66 DEF. Callum Robson (AUS) 14.13

HEAT 4: Connor O'Leary (AUS) 12.86 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 10.10

HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.10 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 14.06

HEAT 6: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.10 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.33

HEAT 7: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.30 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.30

HEAT 8: John John Florence (HAW) 16.93 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (RSA) 10.70

Women’s Quarterfinals Results:

HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 11.04 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 10.50

HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.13 DEF. Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.56

HEAT 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.36 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.84

HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 16.50 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.66

Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)

HEAT 2: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Connor O'Leary (AUS)

HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)

HEAT 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. John John Florence (HAW)

Women’s Semifinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)

HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)