'Devastated': Surfing world shattered over 'heartbreaking' scenes
There were tears and devastation at the Margaret River Pro on Tuesday as the World Surf League's controversial mid-season cut claimed more high-profile victims.
There were heartbreaking scenes in Western Australia when Brazilian rookie Joao Chianca broke down in tears after being beaten by Italo Ferreira.
SURFING NEXT? Ash Barty's surprise appearance after retirement
NOT HAPPY: Aussie surfing legend blows up at YouTubers
Aussie Olympic bronze medallist Owen Wright was then equally as distraught after he lost to Miguel Pupo in their round-of-32 showdown.
Only the top 22-ranked men (plus a wildcard) will qualify for the second half of the Championship Tour (CT) season, with the remaining surfers relegated to the second-tier Challenger Series (CS).
Chianca was despondent after falling victim to the controversial new system.
"Can I be honest, I really wish I could go home and not do anything right now for the next few days," he said.
"It's all about finding hope in the hopeless. I'm not going to give up so soon. I'm still young and definitely have a lot to learn."
As for Wright, the Aussie star went from contemplating retirement to dreaming of a late reprieve on a crazy day of action.
Wright, who entered the day ranked equal-23rd, needed to beat Pupo to guarantee his spot on the main tour.
But it was Pupo who came out the winner, producing an early 7.50 ride in the huge conditions to beat Wright 11.50 to 8.93.
It was initially thought the result would demote Wright to the secondary tour, but in a quirk of the standings he could actually move up a spot on the overall ladder on a count-back.
It all came down to Matthew McGillivray's round of 16 battle with Pupo on Wednesday, with Wright needing the South African to lose.
But McGillivray pulled off a two-wave total of 14.50 to beat Pupo (10.74) and move into the quarter-finals, sealing Wright's sad fate.
"I'm pretty devastated," he said.
"I know I'm surfing really well, but I've got a lot of life outside of the tour - kids and wife and what not.
"Whatever I do will be a family decision. We'll kind of go through the motions of what's next."
"There's a lot more questions to be had. We'll see what happens."
The heartbreak of this sport 💔
➡️ https://t.co/NvfvMJWgLi pic.twitter.com/4aokJJoO5a
— 7Sport (@7Sport) May 3, 2022
Watching Owen Wright’s interview and he has a day and a half to make a decision on his career.
Is this mid-year cut supposed to be fun and exciting, cause I all feel is sadness?
— Jimmy Wilson (@Jimmicane) May 3, 2022
owen wright losing as well as joao … depressing wtf
— jasmine🦑 (@sophieesheridan) May 3, 2022
yo WSL stop this bullshit man for real what's wrong with you guys...
— ʇ ɐ u ʞ ǝ 🌱 🐥 🥤 🗂️ 🎞️ 📂 🧃 📁 (@16041204z) May 3, 2022
This cut is so disrespectful.
— país tá dando tilte (@elton2arq) May 3, 2022
Morgan Cibilic relegated to secondary tour
Australia's Morgan Cibilic also become a high-profile victim of the new mid-season cut after failing to make it past the third round.
Cibilic, who entered the event ranked 28th in the world, needed to beat countryman Callum Robson to have any chance of surviving the axe.
However his bid was unsuccessful when his two-wave tally of 10.7 fell short of Robson's 12.0.
Cibilic finished fifth in the world last year, but must now win back his CT spot through the CS.
American star Kolohe Andino is safe from the cut, but said he's not a huge fan of the new system.
"It's just kind of hard the whole cut thing. No one really likes it," Andino told the WSL broadcast.
"We're all friends on tour and we all love each other, so you don't want to knock the guy off tour.
"It just seems like it's a TV show a little bit, like drama all the time.
"Watching the women's the other day it was just heartbreaking with the girls that were losing. They were crying all day."
Aussie hero Sally Fitzgibbons was relegated on Friday after she was beaten by France's Johanne in the last 16.
“The unconditional love that comes with putting on my jersey #89. Everything about this sport, the surf community and my dream keeps me coming back for more,” she wrote on social media.
“I felt every one of those cheers and hugs from you yesterday and hope I can reciprocate when we cross paths in your big moment.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.