REIGNING world champions Italo Ferreira of Brazil and Hawaiian Carissa Moore head to Narrabeen on the top of the World Surf League rankings after lifting their winner's trophies at the Newcastle Cup at Merewether on Saturday afternoon.
Ferreira, 26, beat his 26-year-old countryman, Gabriel Medina, the men's final, taking it 14.94 to 13.27. Both surfers are known for their high wave counts and dynamic aerial surfing but Medina was left to hunt for good waves in the back end of the final after a clever use of priority by his opponent.
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Medina, the 2014 and 2018 world champion, had surfed with more reserve in the earlier rounds, but he came alive in his semi-final to knock out the Newcastle championship tour rookie Morgan Cibilic, who had beaten his Merewether club mate Ryan Callinan in a gripping quarter final.
Callinan had led the quarter final until Ciblic made his charge with his final two waves. The surf was not as good on Saturday morning as it had been the afternoon before, and both surfers scratched for decent waves to find.
With a few sconds on the clock, Callinan took a wave that sensationally tied the heat 10.37 points each. But Cibilic's best wave, a 5.7, bettered Callinan's best of 5.5, and so the natural-footer progressed to the match-up of his short CT career.
Cheered on by a big home town crowd, Cibilic had Medina's measure for much of their semi and a boilover seemed possible.
Most Merewether waves are rights, but Medina punted a big aerial on a rare left, and Cibilic, who caught just three waves to Medina's nine, could not find another score, and went down 15.77 to 14.07. Cibilic was jubilant despite the loss.
"Over the moon," Cibilic said. "I never would have imagined going this far in a CT (event), let alone my second one."
Carissa Moore, 28, was favoured to win the women's finall against the only first-year surfer on the women's CT, Aussie 23-year-old Isabella Nichols.
Moore won convincingly, 15.73 to 8.34, stamping a big 9.5 on the second of just four waves she needed, with a backup of 6.23 enough to carry her past the 4.67 and 3.67 posted by Nichols.
Thousands watched the contest at the beach, with a sizeable Brazilian contingent backing their heroes.
The next event at Narrabeen starts on Friday.
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