Gracetown local Bronte Macaulay has continued her dream run at her home event, with the stylish goofy-footer booking herself a spot into the semifinals of the 2021 Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro.
The men's competition completed the Round of 16, and saw World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA), World No. 4 Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), and Olympic qualifier Julian Wilson (AUS) eliminated from the draw.
The women completed the Quarterfinals to narrow the field down to the last four competitors: Macaulay, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Carissa Moore (HAW), and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
Macaulay won her heat over form-surfer Johanne Defay (FRA) with both surfers finishing on the same heat total of 11.83 (out of a possible 20) and Macaulay winning on a count back with the highest single wave of 6.83 (out of a possible 10).
Macaulay has now guaranteed her best finish in Margaret River and has already equalled her career best result with a spot in the Semifinals, where she will take on Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). In the following heat, Weston-Webb eliminated two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) in their Quarterfinal matchup.
"I'm so thrilled to make it into the Semifinals," Macaulay said.
"That was a hectic heat, especially at the end.
"The rain was making it hard to see my lineups and it was even hard to see where Johanne was after she got that last wave and if it was good. I didn't know what was going on, so it was super stressful.
"I'm so stoked to make it, it's really special, especially at home. All of my family have been coming down each day and cheering me on, so it feels good to keep making heats."
Australian icons Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons went head-to-head in Quarterfinal 4 to determine the last Semifinal spot in the Boost Mobile Pro.
The matchup did not disappoint with two of Australia's greats going toe-to-toe in pumping Main Break surf. Fitzgibbons started strong with two decent scores, while Gilmore sat patiently and waited for a bigger set.
Eventually, that set presented itself and Gilmore made the most of it, posting a near-perfect 9.50 (out of a possible 10) with two massive frontside gouges.
Fitzgibbons fought hard to get back into contention but it was Gilmore's day as she moved into the Semifinals for the first time in 2021.
"There were so many great waves in the heats before ours and then it seemed to get really slow," Gilmore said.
"I just had to hold my nerve and be patient as I knew Sally would keep busy and build a house, and I just needed to get a good wave and do what I do. It worked, but it could have gone the other way.
"It was a good battle with Sally, we've had a lot over our careers. It feels really good to break the Quarters. I haven't done that this year. I feel like this whole event I haven't had an opportunity to hit the lip so it was nice to get that great wave. The waves have been so good here all week.
"It's good to be back in West Aus."
CT sophomore Seth Moniz (HAW) upset the competition by taking down current World No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA) in Heat 5 of the Round of 16.
The heat was bound to be a close matchup with Medina's solid performances so far at Main Break and with Moniz's affinity for the powerful open ocean waves of WA after growing up on the North Shore of Hawaii.
The matchup became a scrappy battle with Moniz narrowly winning with a modest two-wave combination of 9.84 (out of a possible 20).
Medina's 9th place finish is his worst result of the season, as he's made the Finals at every event leading up to Margaret River.
The win marks Moniz's best result of his season and he will now face rookie Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) in the Quarterfinals.
WSL Champions John John Florence (HAW) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) are the only two male surfers left in the draw who are currently sitting in the Final 5 on the rankings and they are set to stay there, each finding their way to Finals Day at Margaret River.
Ferreira dominated his heat (Heat 7, R/16), while Florence uncharacteristically struggled to post a score of consequence in Heat 1 yet still snuck into the Quarterfinals and will match up with Griffin Colapinto (USA).
Ferreira will battle compatriot Filipe Toledo (BRA) in Quarterfinal 4.
A lay day was called for Friday thanks to a lack of surf, with a decision to be made on Saturday to continue with the competition.
Margaret River Pro Men's Quarterfinal Matchups
HEAT 1: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Griffin Colapinto (USA)
HEAT 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Ryan Callinan (AUS)
HEAT 3: Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
HEAT 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Margaret River Pro Women's Semifinal Matchups
HEAT 1: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)