Surfing’s changing of the guard
It has been a strange start to the World Title race for the men, and with Sebastian Zeitz’s victory at Margaret’s with no-holds-barred surfing, the possibility that the usual suspects will be fighting it out for a world title seems like a high-odds possibility. Joel Parkinson was the lone surfer from the “old school” to get into the final series and his surfing just never seems to get old when there are quality waves. He’s now back in the top five.
They are calling it the “changing of the guard” with the Australian leg of the World Tour Men’s surfing having had such a big shake up. Mick Fanning is taking a personal year and is off the radar for world titles, (though one of the best surfers at present). Taj Burrow has retired, Kelly Slater has only won a single heat this year and is now talking re-qualifying instead of world titles.
But what about King Kelly? The talk of retirement is not coming from him, but from commentators. At 44 years of age he is absolutely still ripping, but does not seem to be on game. I believe the real test for Kelly will be when it comes to the places he has dominated for two decades – Teaupoo in Tahiti and Cloudbreak in Fiji. If Kelly has shockers at those two events then I would say a swansong at Pipeline may be the last time we see Kelly shoot it out for a world title, but I’m just another commentator.
Wilko is still leading the race, and probably still will be going into the Pacific leg, but things are much closer in the women’s world title race. Tyler Wright took women’s power surfing to a new level at Margaret’s, now winning two of the three events. She narrowly trails Courtney Conolouge, a whole host of the ladies are chasing her down, and unusually Stephanie Gilmore is 5th and Sally Fitzgibbons is in 6th. Women’s surfing is a breath of fresh air right now, with the girls taking the sport to a new level. Flashback ten years, and not even Layne Beachley would have dreamed how well these women surf.
World’s Best Hoping the Conditions aren’t “Crappy” in Rio
The next leg of the World Tour goes to Rio in Brazil, the home of the 2016 Olympics. There was a lot of pressure to clean up the pollution in the harbours and the beaches, from raw sewerage being discharged directly into the waterways. Last year one of the World Tour surfers showed me his emails, where several competitors became sick from surfing in the polluted water, and he himself said you could actually “smell” the water when competing. From most reports I have heard, conditions have not improved much, and the surfers are hoping that the wind and tides do not combine again to have them surfing in a toilet bowl. Unfortunately for our Olympic sailors and triathletes, they may not have a choice. No one is hoping for tubes they call “Brown Rooms” in Brazil.
Rio Pro – May 10-21, 2016
QCC Kicks-off with the Alley Classic
May and June will see the Queensland Championship Circuit (QCC) hit the beaches of Queensland, with a best of three event series, which not only decides the Queensland Champion and Queensland Open Team, but based on competitors’ best three-of-three results, the series’ winner will once again get the chance to compete against the world’s best surfers at the 2017 WSL World Championship Tour Quiksilver Pro Trials, Snapper Rocks.
Entries are Open via the Surfing Queensland Website, but due to only having 2 days to run the each event, entries will be capped at 96 surfers, therefore entry into each QCC event will be first in best dressed etc. The events are –
- Alley Classic, May 7-8
- Sunshine Coast Pro, May 21-22
- MP Classic, June 11-12
If you get a chance go and check the events out, up and coming surfers are always in these events, and former winners of the Alley Classic include World Champions Joel Parkinson and Adriano De Souza who both won the event at 16 years of age.
I’ll catch you in the waves…
Photo Credit: PHOTO: © WSL/Cestari