Go behind the scenes with the Rip Curl Team as they make their mark on Hawaii for the final events of the 2019 season. From rookie chargers, to CT qualifications and World Title showdowns... this is your one-stop-shop for everything Hawaii and surfing.
November and December are busy months on Oahu’s North Shore, as anyone who’s anyone in surfing jumps on a plane and heads out to Pipeline in the lead-up to the final CT event of the year.And for more than a decade, Rip Curl has come to the party and taken up residency at one of the most prime pieces of real estate on the 7-Mile Miracle.
And throughout those two months, team riders from around the world fly in and find their place in the house, spending their days surfing out front at Off The Wall and earning their spot in the lineup at Pipe.
Take a trip inside the Rip Curl team house, and get to know the surfers who live there during the North Shore season.
It was a huge day on the rock for the Rip Curl team, with 2x World Champion Tyler Wright reaching the Finals at the Maui Pro, South Africa’s Matt McGillivray qualifying for the World Championship Tour, and Australia’s Morgan Cibillic being awarded Triple Crown Rookie of the Year.
Today was a huge day in Hawaii for Rip Curl team. After promising results in Europe and huge results in both Haleiwa and Sunset Beach during the Vans Triple Crown, South Africa’s Matt McGillivray has officially qualified for the 2020 WSL Championship Tour. The 22-year-old will make his debut on the CT at Snapper Rocks next year. Alongside him, fellow team rider Morgan Cibillic from Newcastle, Australia, has been crowned the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year. This is an honour given to the Triple Crown rookie who totals the most points throughout the Hawaiian events.
To top it off, 2x World Champion Tyler Wright also made history today, placing second at the 2019 Maui Pro. This was the first competition she has surfed in following 17 months of illness. In perfect five-to-seven-foot Honolua Bay, Tyler surfer her way through to the Final of the event, putting on near perfect performances and matching up against huge names like World Title threat Lakey Peterson. In the end it was 7x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore who took the win in the Final heat, but the runner-up finish was no defeat for Tyler. Her performance in Maui today marks the beginning of an incredible comeback for the 2x World Champion.
“Wow, I am very much still processing a lot of this,” Tyler said following her Final heat. “I feel so lucky and grateful to be here today. It was only a couple of months ago that I was still in a rough place. I’m so grateful to the people who have been there for me over the past year, the people who have helped me get here today. I’d like to thank them all, especially my girlfriend Alex who has been there the entire time for me. She was the worst of the worst, and to be here today, surfing and happy and healthy, it’s incredible. It’s been a rough time of illness, and I’m so enjoying this moment.”
22-year-old Matt McGillivray, upon learning the news of his qualification, was speechless. “Wow. I have been dreaming about making the World Tour since I was in school,” Matt said. “When I started surfing and realised how much I loved the sport. You kind of become consumed with surfing and chasing waves, and doodling in all your textbooks… around that time back in primary school I dreamt that I wanted to become a professional surfer. And I can’t believe that that big dream of mine has come true today.
“Now it’s time to look towards next year, and I am so excited. I think everyone’s goal with their first year on Tour is to get the Rookie of the Year. That’s a huge thing to aim for and something that I’d like to work towards. But something that I’ve always liked to focus on before the results is my surfing – I want to be happy with where my surfing is. That’s the most important this for me. I know that my surfing will really grow and I will be pushed on the CT, and that’s something that I’m really looking forward to. I’m not completely sure what to expect, it’s really all just sinking in now. But at the end of the day I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to surf to the best of my ability, learn a lot and chase towards the Rookie of the Year Award.”
Morgan Cibillic, who missed out on official qualification by just two heats today, was awarded the Triple Crown Rookie of the Year Award. “I am so stoked to get this award,” Morgan said. “That was my major goal coming over here to Hawaii and I am so stoked to achieve it.” This award could mean that Morgan will receive entry into the Pipe Master Trials, giving the Australian a shot at competing in the final event of the 2019 WSL Championship Tour season.
However, Morgan’s situation may change by the end of the 2019 WSL Championship Tour season. Currently sitting 11th, he still has a chance at qualification pending the results of other surfers on the CT.
Today was a great day for Rip Curl team riders 2x World Champion Tyler Wright Matt McGillivray and >Morgan Cibillic… and it was also a great day for surfing.
A huge day for the Rip Curl team in Hawaii, with South African Matt McGillivray qualifying for the 2020 Championship Tour.
It has been a huge season on the North Shore of Oahu for 22-year-old Matt McGillivray. After promising results in Europe, and huge results in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the young South African has officially qualified for the 2020 WSL Championship Tour. The 21-year-old will make his debut on the CT at Snapper Rocks next year.
Following the announcement of Matt McGillivray’s qualification, we caught up with him from the shores of Oahu’s seven-mile miracle…
Matty, congratulations. How are you feeling right now?
Wow. I have been dreaming about making the World Tour since I was in school. When I started surfing and realised how much I loved the sport. You kind of become consumed with surfing and chasing waves, and doodling in all your textbooks… around that time back in primary school I dreamt that I wanted to become a professional surfer. And I can’t believe that that big dream of mine has come true today.”
How did you approach this Hawaiian season? You came into the Triple Crown sitting in a pretty good position…
Coming into the Hawaiian season there was quite a bit of pressure on my shoulders. I got some good results in Europe and that put me just below the cut off. I was sitting at 14th. I knew I needed to make a lot of heats over here, and so I definitely felt that pressure. But at the same time I’m always excited to come to Hawaii, it’s my favourite time of year. There was a lot of excitement for the waves, on top of all the pressure.
The way it worked out for me was good. Going into that first event in Haleiwa you know you have the second event to back yourself up, if things don’t go your way. But with things going my way in Haleiwa it took a lot of pressure off for Sunset.
What is the biggest thing you learnt this year in competition?
Another big thing that made a big difference for me was realising that things don’t have to be perfect, and that we are involved in an incredible sport. We get to travel and surf all of these places and you’ve got to enjoy it and take it in… enjoy travelling, enjoy surfing… not taking it so seriously. There was a bit of letting go and just enjoying myself. It’s incredible the opportunities we get and what we get to do, and you’ve got to be grateful for it.
The biggest thing I learnt this year in competition was just believing in my ability and in my decision making in heats. A lot of the time when you’re nervous going into a heat it’s completely natural, but what helps you deal with the nerves is a place of trusting your ability and your preparation. For me it was a process of trusting my ability, trusting myself to make the right decisions in heats. At the start of the year I was having a real shaky time, I lost first heat in a couple of big events and I was struggling a bit with my confidence in my surfing. I have been working up in Durban with Graham Smith and Quentin Jones and they’ve been guiding me through that, emotionally and mentally.
What are you most looking forward to on the CT next year?
I am most looking forward to all of the different spots I get to travel to now, all of these dream destinations. I can’t wait to be able to surf heats at all of the spots – they’re all so exciting – from Snapper to Bells to back home in Jeffrey’ Bay. To be a part of the Championship Tour is a huge opportunity. It sounds like a blast but I know there will be pressure, and I definitely want to perform and grow towards my potential. I feel more motivated now than ever to work hard, and I feel like next year will be such a huge learning curve for me. I’m looking forward to the experience that I’ll gain and the different spots I’ll get to surf.
Anything you’re not looking forward to?
Well, some of the heavy left barrels could be interesting, but it will be a really cool experience and a nice challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can challenge myself in those conditions, at places like Teahupo’o and G-Land.
And what changes for you now that you’ve qualified? Does your training change? What decisions are you going to have to make?
There are a couple big decisions that have to be made in the next few weeks about travel plans for next year. There will be a lot more travelling as I will still be doing the Challenger Series, while doing the Championship Tour. So, I need to figure out where the best place is to base myself, and I’m not quite sure where that is yet. But we will work on it and figure it out, I guess!
Can you talk us through the moment you found out your qualification was official?
I was lying on the couch at the Rip Curl house at Off The Wall and I saw a message from Travis Logie on my Instagram. It was about 4pm and he said to phone him as soon as I could. I phoned him and he told me, but honestly I didn’t quite understand what he was saying. But then I checked my emails and I saw one from the WSL saying congratulations, it’s official! I couldn’t stop smiling, I was so overwhelmed. It was a huge relief because although it was looking really likely, it still hadn’t been confirmed. So to get the official call and know that the work was done, the dream was achieved… it was incredible. I definitely let out a couple of hoots.
What will be your goal in 2020 now that you’ve qualified?
I think everyone’s goal with their first year on Tour is to become the Rookie of the Year. That’s a huge thing to aim for and something that I’d like to work towards. But something that I’ve always liked to focus on before the results, I like to focus on my surfing and be happy with where my surfing is. I know that my surfing will really grow, being pushed on the CT, and that’s something that’s important to me. I’m really not sure what to expect, it’s all just sinking in now what is going to happen next year. I’m just hoping that I’ll be able to surf to the best of my ability, learn a lot and chase towards the Rookie of the Year Award.
And lastly, what does your qualification mean for the Olympics?
Olympic qualification is a bit confusing to me, but I think now that I’m on Tour there is a possibility that I could make the team for South Africa. But, I would still have to qualify through a certain ranking on the CT… or be invited to the ISA World Games. Jordy is already qualified for South Africa, so we will see if there is a second spot.
Matt will make his debut on the WSL Championship Tour at Snapper Rocks in 2020. We can’t wait to see you in the big leagues, Matty! Congratulations.
Medium to strong northwest swell builds through Monday and holds Tuesday with decent to good wind...
It’s everyone’s favourite time of year – the beginning of the end. The world’s best surfers have descended on the North Shore and the Title Race contenders are neck and neck. And at Pipeline, each and every surfer will have to lay it all down on the line to keep their dreams alive.
So, what’s in store for us this year? Well, the first week of the event window looks like it will have solid, consistent swell. As a NE swell fades on Sunday, a new NW swell (more favourable for Pipeline and Backdoor) will build through the day on Monday and peak by late Monday and Tuesday.
There is no shortage of swell during the first week of the event window — at times there may even be too much — and wind early in the upcoming week looks at least a bit better than it did during our last update.
No major change for Sunday with dominant NE swell an unfavorable direction and generally missing Pipe, although we should see some overhead rights sweeping from Backdoor down through Off the Wall. New NW swell should slowly build through the day but looks modest and shouldn’t be much larger than head high. Wind is expected to be light onshore for most of the day. This will be from a long-lasting, moderate strength low in the northwest Pacific the past couple days, and it will provide overhead surf building to double overhead in the afternoon hours. Tuesday should hold in that range, and Backdoor will most likely be favoured.
A larger and slightly more northerly swell is expected to build in and peak on Wednesday from a storm that is now strengthening off the Kamchatka Peninsula. This is expected to produce surf a couple notches larger than Monday afternoon and Tuesday with solid double overhead waves possible with sets running up to 15 feet on the face. Favourable E to ENE trades are expected to continue at this point.
Confidence continues to increase that a much larger NW swell will build in and peak on Thursday, potentially maxing/washing Pipe out. The trend over the last handful of model runs has been to increase the strength of the storm — and the resulting swell — and at this point at least Thursday morning looks too large for Pipe, with a chance for more contestable surf in the afternoon as the swell slowly subsides. Friday should still be solid but much smaller, with a continued decreasing trend through the weekend. Wind looks dicey for Thursday afternoon and Friday at this point — breezy NE trades — but could gradually improve.
If Surfline’s forecast is anything to go by, it looks like we’ll see Gabriel Medina, Owen Wright, Conner Coffin and the rest of the world’s best surfers putting on a show to remember. With the Pipe Masters, the World Title and qualification for Tokyo 2020 all on the line, it’ll be a show to remember. Stay tuned.
We are finally here, folks. The last event of the year. The one that decides it all. And we hope you are excited as us.
The scenarios heading into Pipeline are as close as it can get – multiple horses in the race, with not much between them.
Gabriel Medina, currently second in the world, is chasing Italo Ferreira by 1,065 points. In order to overtake him, and to ensure the rest of the Title contenders don’t surpass him, he has to place higher than the rest of the pack. A clear, although extremely difficult, goal. Or as Gabriel Medina puts it... “To win, I have to win.”
- If Gabriel Medina wins the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters, he is World Champion.
- If Gabriel places second, Italo must win the event in order to win the Title. Filipe must win the event. Jordy must also win the event.
- If Gabriel places third (a semi-final finish), Italo must make the semi-finals in order to win the Title. Filipe must make the Final. Jordy must win.
- If Gabriel places quarters (fifth), Italo must make the quarters in order to win the Title. Filipe must make the semi-final. Jordy must make the Final. Kolohe must win.
- If Gabriel places ninth, Italo must equal or better this result in order to win the Title. Filipe must make the quarters. Jordy must make the quarters. Kolohe must make the Final.
Summed up, Gabriel is heading into Pipeline with one clear, singular goal – win the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters. In doing this he will win back-to-back World Titles and will be joining the ranks of a very elite group of surfers who have won three World Titles. His company the likes of Mick Fanning, Andy Irons, Tom Curren and Carissa Moore (although, by the time Pipeline rolls around, Carissa could have added another World Title to her achievements).
So, will Gabriel Medina win his third World Title in 2019? It all comes down to Pipeline.
"I want to re-write the story. To move on and look forward, to win this event." - Owen Wright has arrived at Pipeline with one clear goal. He is here to become a Pipe Master.
Owen and Pipeline have had a long relationship, and not one without bumps and bruises. At 13 years old he had his first experience on the North Shore, and with that his first encounter with big, heavy waves. And at the young age of 13, he was hooked. The adrenaline, the thrill, the reward… it was always going to keep him coming back for more.
For the next decade Owen surfed out at Pipe as much as any international surfer, and far more than most surfers his age at the time. He learned the ins and outs, he pushed his boundaries and he became one of the world’s best barrel surfers.
Then at 25 years old, during the waiting period for the 2015 Pipe Masters, Pipeline rattled him. Hard. Pipe was the gift that kept on giving for Owen, until it almost took everything away. A heavy experience at Pipe left Ow off Tour for one full year and struggling with serious brain injury.
But today, just a few weeks before he turns 30, Owen is ready to move on from that moment. That moment that, up to this point and in the public eye, defines so much of his story. Today, he is ready to re-write that story.
Owen is done looking back. He’s done having his relationship with Pipeline hinging off one horrible moment. He’s here to re-write that story by winning the event. And as he says, whether it’s this year or next, he’s here to move on… he’s here to win.
With huge swell on the way, Owen will compete in the 2019 Pipe Masters over the next week. Tune in via the WSL.