Stab Magazine | 10 Things we learned from the Australian World Tour leg
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10 Things we learned from the Australian World Tour leg

Words by Jake Howard Adriano De Souza makes two finals in three events, wins at Margaret River and takes the ratings lead. That may not be how everyone expected the 2015 WSL World Tour season to kick-off, but a quarter of the way through and that’s where we stand. That said, there’s no shortage of […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Words by Jake Howard

Adriano De Souza makes two finals in three events, wins at Margaret River and takes the ratings lead. That may not be how everyone expected the 2015 WSL World Tour season to kick-off, but a quarter of the way through and that’s where we stand. That said, there’s no shortage of storylines percolating.

Adriano is in beast mode. Adriano De Souza may be the Brazilian bridesmaid when it comes to winning a world title, but with the passion of a scorned lover he’s come out swinging this year. Positioning himself to become South America’s SECOND world champion, “Adriano is so gnarly,” muttered John John after their final at Margaret River… and that’s coming from somebody that knows. Fuelled by the memory of Ricardo Dos Santos, Adriano went on an absolute tear through Oz. “The world title race is well and truly underway now and people will definitely be trying to catch me,” says Adriano, knowing full well that the next event takes him back home to Brazil. He’s come close before, could this be his year?

Photo: Tom Carey

Miss Moore is killing it right now. Photo: Tom Carey

Carissa Moore is the most dominant female surfer in the world right now. Two wins and a runner-up finish, Carissa’s been virtually unstoppable this year. Cruising to victory at Snapper and Bells, save for a misstep against Courtney Conlogue at Margs, she’s had all the right answers. “It’s been an amazing Australian leg for me, but I’m very excited to get back home,” said Carissa, who was obviously crestfallen after losing to Court in their final. Under the thin veneer of mutual respect there’s a beautiful rivalry brewing between the two ladies, and that always means better webcasts.

The best surfers in the world aren’t always on the world tour. In maybe the story of the year so far, wildcard Jay Davies beat 2014’s top two ranked surfers – Gabs Medina and Mick Fanning – at The Box in the heaviest of conditions. He also beat wundergrom Jack Robinson in the trials. His run only came to a screeching halt when the man with two first names dispatched him in their quarterfinal shootout. “I couldn’t imagine how to tell you all how amazing the past week has felt,” posted Jay. “To have all my friends and family behind me at every stage has been unbelievable! All your support and love made me stronger and more hungry for the win. I love you all. I had the best time ever!”

Big waves save. The 2015 tour was lacking a considerable amount of action before the boys and girls pulled into Margaret River. Simply put, people want to see the world’s best surfers in the world’s best surf. Period. From The Box to Main Break, Margs proved that the right forecast has a transformative effect on things.

Two Johns can surf anything. During a run of surf for the ages in W.A., John John Florence turned himself into a one-man highlight real. From rotators into the wind to taking off behind little Jackie Robinson at The Box with camera in hand (and not a GoPro on a selfie stick), during the two weeks John was in Margaret River he stole more headlines than anyone. If the final against Adriano had been at The Box like he’d been hoping, the outcome may have been different. All the same, he’s put himself in the world title conversation for 2015, especially with Tahiti, Fiji, Lowers and Pipeline coming up later this year.

Kelly Slater is absolutely still relevant. Sharing ninth place in the ratings with Owen Wright and Jordy Smith, even at 42 his gutsy performances at The Box and Main Break proved the king can still contend (when he’s interested). While in Oz his masterstroke of owning the industry also continued to play itself out as Outerknown finally let it be known when their first line would be dropping (July), his vision for Firewire surfboards was somewhat revealed, he bought the TV and movie rights to “Thai Stick,” an ode to ganja smuggling, and he even has his own line of pre-teen bedding now available at Pottery Barn. Is there anything the man can’t do?

Photo: WSL

The Box didn’t produce Gabs’ finest hours in WA. Photo: WSL

Brazilians need to work at The Box. After statement-making performances at Snapper and Bells, with the exception of De Souza who’s surfing like a man possessed, not one Brazilian made it through Round 3 at the Margaret River Pro when the swell that saved the WSL came marching in. And after throwing a little hissy fit at the Quiky Pro after losing to Glenn Hall in Round 3, defending world champ Gabs Medina got served at The Box (and the whining continued). Just the same, the current WSL ratings have Adriano in first, Filipe Toledo sitting third and Miguel Pupo in 12th, so don’t expect the Brazzos to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Photo: Simon Muirhead

Mr Slater and an obvious but rather unnecessary 11. Photo: Simon Muirhead

Letting surfers pick their own jersey numbers was a kinda dumb idea. A new addition this year, the WSL is letting each surfer pick their own jersey number. It made sense when the jersey number represented where they sat in the ratings, but to borrow Dino Andino’s catchall phrase, this is “baffling.” Kelly wears the number 11 for obvious reasons. Carissa picked the number 10 because she’s always striving for a 10. Sally wears 89 because that’s how old her grandpa was when he died. The WSL has succeed in adding yet another confusing component to competitive surfing.

Bells is still not overly exciting. Though it certainly has its moments, more than half a century later, even with all the history and Hells Bells, Torquay’s jewel is outdated and doesn’t easily facilitate the kind of heart-stopping, conversation-starting performances that makes for a memorable event… The Box, and even two-foot Snapper, proved that.

Photo: WSL

Keanu, en route to Box floor. Photo: WSL

Being a rookie sucks. Bless The Box and the punishment it inflicted on this year’s rookie class. The masses watching online wanted carnage, and that’s exactly what they got courtesy the tour newbies. Ricardo Christie pretty much got atomised. Matt Banting fared only slightly better. And Keanu Asing? He put the cherry on top by doing cartwheels in the barrel. “Just because you’re from Hawaii doesn’t mean you know everything about big waves,” said Keanu awesomely. Hard lessons are the best ones learnt!

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