Gallery: Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Sessions

Eleven years ago the Swellnet team ventured down to Victoria for the Rip Curl Pro. With small waves breaking across the Surf Coast the event was shifted to Johanna for Finals Day, and this was the first time I'd heard of, let alone laid eyes on, a new up and coming star - Gabriel Medina.

While Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning competed on a long-running right, most eyes were fixed on a left rip-bowl down the beach. Gabriel was boosting off everything he caught. He was a wildcard for the event after picking up a contract for Rip Curl the previous year, aged 15, and the show he was putting on signalled a big future. 

Gabriel Medina - 2010

This brings us back to yesterday, sitting on the beach amongst thousands watching Gabs again performing rotation after rotation on any wave possible. Sometimes with minimal speed, he'd pop up, pump twice in the top third of the wave before boosting out into the flats. It was almost futile trying to compete against such an acrobat with powerful rail surfing, though Morgan and Conner gave it a good crack.

Below is a chronological gallery running from the second Quarter right through to the Final, where, with Italo out of the event, Medina took both the title and a commanding ratings' lead - all on a beautiful Northern Beaches' afternoon.

Morgan Cibilic inside a beautiful bowl

Gabriel Medina warming up

Clinching the Quarter in the dying seconds (sequence continued below)

Conner Coffin

Griffin Colapinto

Yago Dora

Griffin going large (sequence continued below)

Yago

Caroline Marks in the Semi

Courtney Conlogue

Carissa Moore

Tatiana Weston-Webb

Medina heading out for his Semi with Frederico Morais

Frederico

Medina

Griffin Colapinto vs Kanoa Igarashi

Women's Final - Caroline Marks vs Tatiana Weston-Webb

Champion

Men's Final - Gabriel Medina vs Conner Coffin

Precision by Conner (sequence continued below)

Medina's 9.5 (sequence continued below)

Champion

Comments

Bungan33's picture
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Bungan33 Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 1:07pm

Yes - insane surfer. Yes, incredible acrobatics. Yes, a rare talent...but...does anyone else get a weird feeling when you see the claims? The three point, yes, adoring beach fans count them on my fingers, three point shot, slam dunk, how good am I kind of stuff. Maybe I'm just old and idealistic about the spirit of surfing being an internal construct - and dont understand the raw aggression and fierce competitiveness required. But just do the move and smile man! Maybe even a little uncontrolled, grommet like fist pump, I dont know.....
Anyway! Each to their own....

fitzfoo61's picture
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fitzfoo61 Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 8:48am

I’m with you on that.... We all love a good turn,barrel,floater but come on.It was funny when Kath & Kim did the old “look at me” But this guys on steroids.

Jamyardy's picture
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Jamyardy Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 1:16pm

Great collage of pics there Craig, well done. Cheers.

Blingas's picture
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Blingas Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 1:21pm

Would have been much better if it was Gab v Italo. The WSL just made there judging criteria look bad when CC was in the final and not Italo. Gab went mad and I felt bad for CC as he had no bag of tricks to ever catch up. There is a massive disconnect between the abilities of the surfers when some have all the tricks and some don't. Gab really showed up!!

lilas's picture
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lilas Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 5:34am

Not sure I agree Gabs has all the tricks. Most yes, but not all. He just has the tricks that the judges are rewarding [Airs] and has an amazing competitive mind. Those two things alone are what win him heats. Hats off to that, but if I had to surf like a crab to achieve all that, I would give it a miss thanks. Surfing should be beautiful to watch, not just amazing.

Ben Harding's picture
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Ben Harding Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 11:54am

I reckon he is pretty damn complete lilas. Quick look at his stats and his record speaks for itself, specifically at places of consequences where the judging can be taken out of it.

Great barrel rider both on the forehand and backhand: Pipe finalist x5, Tahiti finalist x6 (14’ 10-12ft, of maxing chopes where he proved unequivocally proved he charged harder than most). Multiple champ at chopes and a pipe master. I reckon his barrel riding style is right up there and beautiful to watch, especially on his forehand.

Barrels and turns: Fiji finalist 3x out of the 6 times it was running while he been on tour. 2x champ. With a big canvass I reckon his style adds up. Go back and have a look at the years fiji was cooking and he was in it. Surfs would complete authority and tears it apart.

Backhand rail (dare i say it, game): jbay winner, snapper winner. Jbay 2019 was unreal, best backhand turn ive seen in a comp. I think his overall bells performance 2019 was also some of the best backhand going. Those bottom turns from memory. How is that not good style?

The argument that his skillset can’t transcend “airs” simply doesn’t add up. Style you can dock points for in the small stuff arguably, but not so much when its 4ft+. I’m a massive JJF fan and the same could be said for him in small waves as he doesn’t look that crash hot either. But between the two of them they are easily the top dogs. What else is there to tick off ability wise? We have seen it all multiple times over.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 12:00pm

Totally agree!

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 12:41pm

Totally agree too. With the exception of JJF I'm hard pressed to name another more complete surfer on the CT.

And that backhand surfing in that J-Bay final with Italo was so next level it isn't even worth mentioning.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 1:18pm

Ben you Pretty much said everything I did earlier but you explained it a lot better! Good post

Ben Harding's picture
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Ben Harding Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 1:36pm

Likewise goofy. I've been saying this for years and until recently due to gabe/charlies public image, getting hammered for it. It's good to see the broader surfing community stance soften on him abit. All bullshit aside, his talent is undeniable. Im glad he is who is as thats whats made him the surfer we all get then pleasure of watching; and, I reckon he is getting better. Love that he and JJF are becoming closer it appears, those two guys are the sole reason my emotions are invested in CT level surfing. Gnarly, gnarly fellas that have a serious crack.

vbabin's picture
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vbabin Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 8:49am

Could say he lacks a bit of sportsmanship and respect
multiple dropin: that one on kelly at backdoor he went straight shouldve got penalised for that as he didnt score point just went straight to ruin the barrel, with caio two years ago was just being a dick on several event dropping in... to mention a couple

At narrabeen he intentionally got in the way of fred morais and blocked him, didnt lose priority didnt get intereference.. rip curl rider untouchable in rip curl event??
I agree he and italo were surfing to a next level and deserve the win but too many dirty tricks to get where he is, he must be hated by some surfers on tour

If Bobby martinez was still around he wouldnt tolerate the brazo disrespect and wouldve bashed him if he tries those trick on him

Ben Harding's picture
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Ben Harding Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 9:09am

Of course, you could say that.

But that's not my argument or what was up for debate initially. I find it difficult to cast blanket character judgements on CT level surfers from there behavior in a competition.

I don't know them and never will. Nor do I let any of their competitive display outside of the actual surfing influence my dislike or like of them or somehow let that diminish the achievements.

I do know life is not black and white. I don't think he is malevolent, but either way, his surfing first and foremost is what stands out for me.

Each to their own.

garry-weed's picture
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garry-weed Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 4:26pm

An amazing athlete and competitor for sure ( that non interference with Freddie!) and I have come around to his surfing mostly (I think the claims are kind of funny) That said to me he is still ugly to watch during squat recoveries and pre- launch. Oddly the WSL is wearing down my aesthetics when it comes to style.

SI's picture
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SI Friday, 7 May 2021 at 5:36pm

For sure the squat recoveries are not pretty (fanning also does a good squat routine in the barrel, haha!). But put him out at 8-10 Tahiti or Pipe...oh wow that’s a different story. All around I’ve never seen another surfer who has developed so dynamically over the years. He is the surfer who stands out to me as having adapted and grown as a style master more than anyone else - not my favourite surfer, but credit where it’s due). He sure didn’t start out so stylish and I used to really dislike is circus tricks that were really clunky and awkward but not any more!! The guy is awesome. Someone told me he was a prick too, but then I surfed with him a few times and found he was also really good to surf with; good for a chat and shares the waves!! Go Big-M, I’m officially a Fan!

Bustard's picture
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Bustard Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 1:57pm

Gabs = Soon to be first surfer in history to decline sponsorship dollars due to lack of any spare room on board to place corporate stickerage.....or does he capitalize and start riding 7'6" to offer up more advertorial content

tiger's picture
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tiger Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 2:46pm

Great pics Craig! Thought the waves were looked pretty fun for the entirety of the event, especially at the pointy end. They got super lucky with a persistent if a little slow swell, great conditions, and a flat tide swing. Your pics really illustrate some of the loft of the airs in pretty critical sections. Thought the slow Mo in the coverage was epic too!

Blowin's picture
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Blowin Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 4:03pm

Epic photos mate. Thanks very much. Made me realise that, with the lack of print surf media these days, there’s not that many still photos of the pros doing there thing. Plenty of video but fck all still shots which you can take your time absorbing every detail.

BTW - Love how Tatiana is throwing a Shaka even during her backhand off the top. That’s how stoked she is.

Ben Harding's picture
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Ben Harding Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 4:14pm

+1

Great shots, would have been all time to watch live.

D-Rex's picture
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D-Rex Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 4:15pm

Awesome pics! Maybe an idea to level the playing field a little is for the judges to only reward airs if the surfer continues riding the green wall after landing.

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rj-davey Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 4:24pm

Nah I disagree, You need to do SOMETHING with the close-out/end section. Some go for a final whack, some go for a floater, others go to the air (if they can). I love the fact that final section still has so much scoring potential and risk is rewarded.

On that point I quite like that bog standard close-outs (being a somewhat regular feature on beachies) which would otherwise be ignored or avoided by the competitors all day suddently becomes a scoring opportunity for the non-priority surfer who happens to have an air game. Makes the heat so much more interesting to watch.

I think the playing field should be leveled by the surfers, not the judging criteria.

jetson.rover's picture
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jetson.rover Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 12:48am

I don't like it when they trim and pump along the entire length of the wave to hit the end closeout with the predictable air reverse,especially when it's the stock standard non critical ones they can do in their sleep.
Italo does this all the time and it's gotten boring and predictable knowing he'll probably win the heat like that.
I understand they often have to forgo a first section in order to get more speed for the closeout air to be bigger and score higher,but i'd rather see a good turn or hack on that first section then see it get bypassed.
But i'm old school too.

quokka's picture
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quokka Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 4:30pm

I get tired really quickly of the rotations, too much same same and you can see it coming a mile off, racing to hit the closeout section. Give me rail surfing with a straight air thrown in every now and then, any day of the week.

tango's picture
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tango Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 8:35pm

+1.

lilas's picture
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lilas Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 5:41am

100% The judges are certainly not scoring variety, imagination or Style. Only the WOW factor seems to matter and it's hard to compete with Airs for WOW. Even though many other turn are actually harder. [Like the backhand reo/air that Morgs did.] That turn alone should have been a 9.5 as it was so much harder than most Airs.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 6:47am

I think they aren't scoring just the WOW factor, ie Gabs was completing so many of these and they'd only get a 5.5 or 6. Only the really crazy ones with a turn added on as well were getting the big scores. So even he has to try a little harder to get the scores.

frog's picture
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frog Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021 at 9:10pm

Gabs huge rotation onto the flats against Connor was wild. The 9s in the final were clever but not so wow.

Rotate rotate rotate until it starts to date .... then what?

The rides that I saw that stick in my mind were some of Morgan's and Connor's top to bottom ripping. Morgan's tube from takeoff was technically very impressive.

Gabs huge rotation also does like some parquet moves or rock climbing moves. You know he was risking a shattered ankle or leg without control of all the variables. I have no desire to do one though.

Blingas's picture
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Blingas Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 8:51pm

Agree Gabs rotated on forehand and backhand landed all of his rotations in the final and had that corked out one on a small wave (backhand) it was total wow and in full speed shows how tight it was. I can't remember any of CC surfing other than I had seen it all before. Except he did stick one rotation (not sure what you call it - reverse one the wave) but was not anywhere near Gabs.

I desire to surf like that 100% but alas I can't... Much closer to CC's surfing any day of the week.

simba's picture
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simba Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 6:01am

what is yago doing with colapinto......going in for a man shake

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 6:48am

Thanks guys, stoked with the shots, probably the best I've ever taken of close-up action of surfing.

Fatso's picture
Fatso's picture
Fatso Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 10:59am

Photos show so much more. What looks better in them, rotation or CCs snap off the top. 'nuff said!

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 11:19am


Not sure I agree Gabs has all the tricks. Most yes, but not all. He just has the tricks that the judges are rewarding [Airs] and has an amazing competitive mind. Those two things alone are what win him heats. Hats off to that, but if I had to surf like a crab to achieve all that, I would give it a miss thanks. Surfing should be beautiful to watch, not just amazing.”

Everyone sees things differently but surely that argument against Gabe is wearing thin.
He’s close to a complete package, powerful turns, airs better than anyone apart from 1 or 2, charges Pipe and Chopes when it’s solid, and can tube ride forehand/backhand as good as anyone.
The surfing he was doing at Bells a few years ago on the big days was amazing, those floaters over huge sections on 8 ft waves and belting the fuck out of it.

nextswell's picture
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nextswell Thursday, 22 Apr 2021 at 6:49pm

Big surprise for me was Yago Dora. Of all the Brazilian surfers, prefer his rail surfing the best. I’d say the Narrabeen contest was above par, considering the forecast etc. Looking forward to see JJF at main break and robbo at the box. How great a final would that be?!

san Guine's picture
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san Guine Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 8:15am

Thanks Craig for some great photos, nice to see some quality stills and sequences.
Medina is amazing and I am warming too him.
The air game is effective (and spectacular)in beach break close-outs but I think will become a manoeuvre of diminishing returns as these men and women all lock on to the same turns. In 5 years these airs will be ho-hum...what next?

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 10:40am

The floater and the layback snap. Difficult, critical and pleasing to the eye when done well.

Two moves that will never go out of fashion.

san Guine's picture
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san Guine Saturday, 24 Apr 2021 at 9:13pm

Agreed Zen, however the WSLs' new mantra is 'progression'...the barrel roll in the barrel would work.

Coorongkooks's picture
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Coorongkooks Friday, 23 Apr 2021 at 11:24am

Amazing photo's - so good to see the stills of these amazing athletes, and just how hard they are pushing the limit!
Awesome stuff Craig!

Cattsy's picture
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Cattsy Saturday, 24 Apr 2021 at 3:51pm

Surfed with Gabe on a 2ft lay day up in Newcastle. Only 5 locals out (old timers) and he must have had 50 waves but checked if anyone else was going every time. Stopped for a chat (“did ya get a couple”) and photo when we were leaving. He is a frother!

mick-burnside's picture
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mick-burnside Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 8:14am

Many talking about Italo being ripped off. I thought Courtney Conlogue (unsponsored) was ripped off by the judges in her heat against Caroline Marks(heavily sponsored). No one has said anything re. Any thoughts?

Craig's picture
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Craig Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 9:44am

I agree, I thought Courtney won that heat and after shooting was stunned to see Caroline had made it.

mick-burnside's picture
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mick-burnside Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:04am

Cheers Craig. I thought Courtney tanned Carolines arse. I think Caroline was gifted a win. No media scrutiny. Life goes on.

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dawnperiscope Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 10:11am

That's just competitive surfing, I'm sure there are plenty of boardriders across the country who didn't make it through a heat on the weekend who feel the same. Seems a stretch to suggest the sponsors are corrupting the comp.

garry-weed's picture
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garry-weed Monday, 26 Apr 2021 at 4:30pm

Yes in both final heats for me. CM's turns are great but she is ultra repetitive and a little more lateral than much of her competition.