ROTTNEST ISLAND, Western Australia, Australia (Thursday, May 20, 2021) – The Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona, the fifth stop on the 2021 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and the final event of the Australian leg, recommenced today in three-to-four foot surf at Strickland Bay. The women’s Quarterfinalists were determined after completing the Round of 16, and the men’s draw narrowed down the top 16 following the Round of 32.

Nikki Van Dijk Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Final 5 Update: No. 3 Gilmore and No. 4 Marks Fall in Round of 16

World No. 3 Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) is out of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search after falling to Nikki Van Dijk (AUS, above) in Heat 3 of the Round of 16. Gilmore could not overcome the 2.73-point gap to Van Dijk’s 7.83 and 6.00 scores (each out of a possible 10). Van Dijk goes into her Quarterfinal heat against two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) with momentum after taking out two names in the Final 5, Gilmore and World No. 2 Tatiana Weston-Webb(BRA).

“I’m so stoked to make it through that heat,” Van Dijk said. “I’ve had a really hard time making it out of that heat this year, so it feels good to be into the Quarterfinals finally. I had a loss in Round 1 and that kicked me into gear. Ending up in that elimination round is so sketchy. I feel like I’m surfing well at the moment, so it’s nice to see it paying off with some scores. I had a really fun heat surfing with Steph. We are really good friends, which makes it tough, but it was game on.”

In a disappointing finish to the Australian leg, World No. 4 Caroline Marks(USA) was eliminated in the Round of 16 and exited in equal 9th place. Marks fell to Malia Manuel (HAW), who scored a 14.44 (out of a possible 20) to Marks’ 12.16. Both competitors looked to focus on their backhands to find their scores and fortunately for Manuel, the lefts at Strickland Bay offered a lot more opportunity than the rights, leaving her with the upper hand in the 44-minute matchup.

Amuro Tsuzuki Photo: WSL/Miers

Amuro Tsuzuki Advances with Career-Best Result

Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) upset the competition with a major win over Courtney Conlogue (USA) in the final heat of the Round of 16. Tsuzuki’s win came in the dying minutes of the heat with an excellent 8.33, showcasing her incredible backhand surfing. Tsuzuki entered the event as the injury replacement and is the first Japanese woman to compete on the elite CT in over two decades. In only her third CT event, the 20-year old has achieved her career-best result and will face Johanne Defay (FRA) in Quarterfinal 4.

“I’m so happy right now,” Tsuzuki said. “That was a nervous heat for me, especially at the end. I definitely feel confident on my backhand and knew if I had the right wave, I could get a good score. I just didn’t know if it would come and that was the most nerve-wracking bit. I’m so happy to make it now.”

All eyes will be on the Tsuzuki v. Defay matchup in the Quarterfinals. Defay has shown impressive surfing throughout this entire Australian leg and again threw down big turns to defeat Keely Andrew (AUS) with a 15.57 two-wave total (out of a possible 20). Despite posting some of the biggest heat totals throughout this leg, Defay has yet to advance past the Quarterfinals and Defay will be eager for a breakthrough against Tsuzuki.

Filipe Toledo Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Replacement Liam O’Brien Defeats World No. 3 Filipe Toledo 

Fresh off a win at the recent Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro, Filipe Toledo(BRA) arrived on Rottnest Island in his best form this season and at a wave that suits his surfing arguably better than any other stop this year. Toledo, pegged as a favorite, came up against injury replacement Liam O’Brien (AUS) in Heat 5 of the Round of 32 and the matchup didn’t disappoint. Toledo made a number of air attempts early while O’Brien stayed on the face, displaying why he has been a massive threat on the Qualifying Series in recent years and the tactic paid off with the wildcard taking down one of the event favorites in convincing fashion.

“Pretty happy, to say the least, after that win,” O’Brien said. “Obviously Filipe is a freak so I was stressing out at the end of that heat. He can turn pretty much any wave into a big score so I was lucky that nothing came at the end of the heat. I had a plan to get the best waves and to match him on the face. I don’t think I’d be beating him in the air so I stuck to the plan, which worked out in the end. The scoring at this level is a lot harsher than the QS, and it should be as everyone rips so hard, so when you hear a decent score get read out for your surfing, it feels really good.”

Gabriel Medina Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Medina and Ferreira Move Closer To Solidifying Spots at the Rip Curl WSL Finals

Reigning WSL Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) along with two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) continue to close in on guaranteeing their spots at the Rip Curl WSL Finals, which will determine the 2021 World Champions at Lower Trestles in California later this year. The Brazilian duo snuck into the Round of 16, seeing Medina take down local wildcard Kael Walsh (AUS), and Ferreira dispatch Jacob Willcox (AUS) this afternoon.

“That was a long day,” said Ferreira. “I woke up too early today at 4:35 a.m. and I had a first session but then have been waiting for my heat. I was excited because there was a lot of opportunity out there, so you can create something and change the score and put the pressure. When we have waves, the overlapping heats are fun.

Jordy Smith Photo: WSL/Miers

CT Stalwarts Step up at Strickland

After a slow start to the Aussie leg of the CT, Jordy Smith (ZAF, above) finished in second place at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro to get his title campaign back on track. Smith is on track to back it up here at Rottnest Island with another heat win today, over injury replacement Stuart Kennedy (AUS). Smith posted a two-wave combination of 14.17, mixing his trademark rail game with some impressive progression to continue his momentum.

Michel Bourez (FRA) is currently ranked 30th in the world after four consecutive losses in the Round of 32. Today, Bourez finally moved past 17th place with a win over Frederico Morais (PRT) in Heat 7. Bourez continued to build on the momentum of his opening heat, where he scored a 9.63 with the best tube ride so far of the event, with sharp, powerful turns on both his frontside and backside. He will now face Miguel Pupo (BRA) in the Round of 16, Heat 4.

Sally Fitzgibbons  Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Olympic qualifiers for Australia, Sally Fitzgibbons (above), Julian Wilson, and Owen Wright, won their heats today and will continue through to the next round of competition on Rottnest Island. Wilson and Wright have struggled to place higher than 9th this season but looked sharp in their heats against Wade Carmichael (AUS) and Matthew McGillivray (ZAF), respectively. Fitzgibbons will move into the Quarterfinals for the fourth time in 2021 after she knocked out Macy Callaghan (AUS) from the draw.

2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) also punched through to the Round of 16. De Souza earned an 11.26 combined score to override AustralianEthan Ewing’s 8.70 in Heat 14, R/32. The 16-year veteran is surfing in his last Australian event before retiring from the CT at the end of the 2021 season and will look to make the most when he comes up against Ferreira in the Round of 16.

Watch LIVE

The holding period for the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona is now open and runs through May 26. The event will be broadcast LIVE on and the free WSL app. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.

Although Rottnest Island will remain open for visitors while hosting the event, spectators will not be permitted at Strickland Bay as this will be a broadcast-only event to limit environmental impacts.

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Women’s Round of 16 Results:
HEAT 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 14.44 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 12.16
HEAT 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.60 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.97
HEAT 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.83 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.10
HEAT 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.84 DEF. Sage Erickson (USA) 8.67
HEAT 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.16 DEF. Mia McCarthy (AUS) 9.80
HEAT 6: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 9.93 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.34
HEAT 7: Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.57 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 8.93
HEAT 8: Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 14.33 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.37

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
HEAT 4: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN)

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Men’s Round of 32 Results:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.17 DEF. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.40
HEAT 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.10 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 12.07
HEAT 3: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.13 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.67
HEAT 4: Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 12.57 DEF. Deivid Silva (BRA) 12.17
HEAT 5: Liam O’Brien (AUS) 13.66 DEF. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.50
HEAT 6: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.33 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.53
HEAT 7: Michel Bourez (FRA) 12.84 DEF. Frederico Morais (PRT) 7.50
HEAT 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.66 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 6.34
HEAT 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.80 DEF. Kael Walsh (AUS) 8.20
HEAT 10: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.70 DEF. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 9.00
HEAT 11: Conner Coffin (USA) 11.10 DEF. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 10.70
HEAT 12: Mikey Wright (AUS) 10.83 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.77
HEAT 13: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.20 DEF. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 9.10
HEAT 14: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.26 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 8.70
HEAT 15: Yago Dora (BRA) 13.94 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.84
HEAT 16: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 15.60 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 12.33

Rip Curl Rottnest Search Men’s Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
HEAT 2: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Morgan Cibilic (AUS)
HEAT 3: Liam O’Brien (AUS) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW)
HEAT 4: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
HEAT 6: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)
HEAT 7: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
HEAT 8: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)

COVID-19 Updates
The WSL continues to work closely with the West Australian Government and WA Police Department to monitor the COVID-19 situation both in WA, where competitors and staff are currently located, and in New South Wales, where they have traveled from. The Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro is prepared to operate in a ‘bubble’ should it be required. As a result of the COVID-19 contingency plans, there is no option to run the event at a mobile location outside of the main event site of Main Break and The Box, such as North Point in Gracetown.

The WSL will implement a robust and thorough COVID-19 health and safety plan for each event during the Australian leg of the CT in accordance with federal and state guidance. The WSL’s health and safety plan includes enhanced high-touch cleaning at the event site, contact tracing procedures, sanitizer stations throughout the event site, and minimal personnel on-site. All traveling athletes and support staff completed the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine and received medical clearance from public health officials before entering the general community.

Due to COVID-19, the Australian CT events will run based on state border closures, strictly adhering to federal and state government guidelines and restrictions. All tour stops and dates subject to change due to applicable COVID-19 related restrictions, including global travel restrictions.