After four long lay days waiting for waves, the Ripcurl Newcastle Cup was finally back on this morning at Merewether Beach. Dubbed the ‘mystery swell’, comp organisers and punters alike were surprised to find a southerly groundswell had snuck up overnight. True to the Novocastrian spirit, the locals took it as a win for our iconic NBN weatherman, Gavin Morris, whose forecast was, apparently, the least incorrect.

With clean, overhead waves on offer, Jacko Baker was just happy to have the event resume after a morning freesurf. “It’s tricky out there but better than it has been, can’t complain.” The sentiment was echoed around the beach, with the wave quality finally starting to resemble something worthy of a CT event.

In one of the most hotly anticipated heats of the day, Jack Robinson narrowly escaped elimination as he looked to further prove his beach break credentials. With 90 seconds on the clock and needing a score, Robbo pulled one out of the bag to edge out Mikey Wright, who was unlucky to be eliminated. Regarded as one of the most exciting surfers in the world, there are question marks over Robbo’s ability to compete with the best in smaller conditions. Despite what his critics say, Robbo has a good track record in Merewether, having made the Surfest semi-final in 2019. He’s also expected to do well when the Aussie-quaddie heads to his native breaks in West Oz. A strong showing on the beachies in Merewether and Narrabeen could make him Australia’s best shot at a title this year.

The biggest upset of the day came when Courtney Conlogue came out on top over long-time rival, and current world number one, Tyler Wright. The two have faced each other sixteen times over the years, with Courtney claiming bragging rights nine times to Tyler’s seven. We’ll be eagerly awaiting the next heat between these two, with Courtney holding the psychological advantage in what is becoming a great rivalry. Tyler’s shock exit is set to shake up the women’s rankings in a big way, with reigning champ, Carissa Moore, looking dominant in her win over local wildcard Philippa Anderson.

Courtney Conlogue, who has form in Bells like rights, took down Tyler Wright today. Photo: WSL/Meirs

Other surprise exits saw Jadson Andre and Tatiana Weston-Webb sent packing, with Leonardo Fioravanti and CT rookie, Isabella Nichols, delivering standout performances throughout the day. Both Leonardo and Isabella had to overcome adversity to pick up their wins. Leo damaged his board in a collision with a grom during a freesurf this morning, and Isabella wasn’t able to hear the scores from the water after being afflicted with surfer’s ear. I reckon the murky waters that have been tainting the surf over the last two weeks are to blame, and we might see ear infections running rampant throughout WSL. If only they could have heeded the advice of the age-old proverb; “if it’s brown, don’t go down.”

With the mystery swell continuing to build, we could be in for some epic final heats over the next few days. I’m sure all eyes will be on Gav Morris’ weather forecast on NBN news tonight.