Stab Magazine | The Rookie Class Of 2017

The Rookie Class Of 2017

Your guide to next year’s fresh faces on the World Tour.

news // Dec 7, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Six new faces, plus the four World Tour surfers who managed to qualify via the QS, completes the picture for the 2017 World Tour (though there is the outside chance of Hawaiian WQS number 11 Zeke Lau getting promoted if either Jeremy Flores, Kanoa Igarashi, Jadson Andre, or Jack Freestone can pull off a miracle at Pipe, thus double-qualifying and freeing up a spot on the QS top 10). From Cronulla to Florianopolis, long time QS grinders to fresh faced teenagers, this is the class of 2017.


Connor O’Leary, Cronulla, Australia

It’s hard not to love a guy who’s ranked number one on the QS while also holding down a gig at his local surf store in Cronulla. Connor O’Leary is a people’s champ straight out of the nineties Australiana surf mould (think 1991 ASP Rookie Of The Year and fellow surf store attendant, Jeremy Byles). Connor’s mum, who is Japanese, is a dual national surf champ in both her homeland of Japan as well as her adopted country of Australia. With a jazzy frontside punt and rail game, Connor was always going to make short work of the QS. He came painstakingly close to qualification last year after being knocked out a couple of heats short by Gabriel Medina’s freakish Sunset floater. A product of the Martin Dunn school of surfing, his powerful frame looks to have found its mark in the form of a razor sharp backside attack. How he fares against the clinical rail work and smoothly honed attacks of the world’s best in the world’s best waves remains to be seen.


Ethan Ewing, North Stradbroke Island, Australia

You gotta like the look of this kid. Raised in the idyllic coastal nook of North Stradbroke Island, Ethan grew up on some of the best waves known to man. Smooth, powerful and ultra stylish, you’ll find sprinklings of his childhood heroes Andy Irons, Mick Fanning and Bede Durbidge – who hails from Ethan’s hometown – all through his surfing. His mother was a two-time Australian title winner and his brother also rides for Billabong as a freesurfer. Ethan looks well-groomed for the quality waves and judging tastes of surfing’s elite level.


Frederico Morais, Cascais, Portugal

Frederico’s main claim to fame prior to WT qualification was putting a major dent in Mick Fanning’s 2015 world title ambitions at the Portugal World Tour event (he did the same to Slater there in 2013). He is as at home in the big bowls of Hawaii as he is in the grovelly stuff of the QS. What he lacks in refined style he has been shown to make up for with raw power. Coming into the Hawaiian leg of the QS he was ranked way outside the qualification cut at 38th, but a pair of runner-ups at Haleiwa and Sunset saw him rocket into third place on the ratings and a place on the 2017 Tour. A big man with the ability to throw plenty of water and weight around, his strength on tour will be powerful turns and powerful rotations in the air.


Joan Duru, Capbreton, France

Six years on the WQS ensures Frenchman Joan Duru will be the most fired-up of the 2017 rookies. Back in 2009 he drew with Australian Blake Thornton on the QS cut-off line (equal 15th), but it was Blake who got the call up to the big league on a countback. Well-rounded with a thirst for big, hollow tubes, Joan’s test will be coming up with the flare to set him apart from the rest of the best. One thing’s for sure, his competitive instincts will be among the sharpest of the new class.


Leo Fioravanti, Rome, Italy

The world’s first Italian pro surfer is, in truth, just as much the product of France, Australia, and California. From the age of nine he’s been a citizen of the world and today speaks five languages fluently. His step father is Quiksilver Europe team manager and longtime Kelly Slater confidant, Stephen Bell, meaning Leo has done plenty of time in the water alongside the GOAT. As a 16-year-old in 2014 he fell one result short of a place on the World Tour, then spent much of 2015 on the sidelines courtesy of a broken back suffered in a horror beating at the Volcom Pipe Pro. Strong across the board, especially in waves of consequence, Leo already has form at surfing’s elite level, having secured a fifth place finish at the Margaret River Pro this year before knocking out his mentor, Kelly, at the Quiksilver Pro, France. All things considered, he looks primed for a bumper debut season on tour.


Ian Gouveia, Florianopolis, Brazil 

With a stocky build, crisp technique, radical jams in the pocket and the kind of new age aerial consistency we’ve come to expect from Brazilian graduates, Ian Gouveia could well be the surprise packet of the class of 2017. “The key word is dedication,” said Ian in an interview with Steve Allain. “Anyone who wants to get anywhere needs to have a lot of dedication. There is a lot of Brazilian surfers whose father does not know how to swim. They come from simple families, but he has a great talent, a lot of strength and dedication and in the end he will manage to get there.”


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