Rookie Roundup: CT Freshmen Take Lessons to Rio

At the beginning of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) season, the Faces series profiled the newcomers to the elite Tour. Back then their eyes glimmered, wide with possibility. Now, with three events down, members of the 2015 rookie class took a moment to reflect on how far they've come -- and how much farther they have to go.

Ricardo Christie (NZL)

Faces Profile

In a big upset, rookie Ricardo Christie eliminated Filipe Toledo in Round 2. Ricardo Christie upset then-World No. 1 Filipe Toledo in Round 2 of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

World Surf League (WSL): How does it feel to compete on the CT?
Ricardo Christie: It's been a huge learning curve for me. It's completely different from anything I've ever done in the past. I'm just taking everything in.

WSL: Does being on Tour match your expectations going into the first event?
RC: It's been different than what I expected it to be. I was expecting perfect waves at every event when it's not a reality. It's about dropping expectation and just dealing with what mother nature gives you. It's still a grind.

WSL: What are the takeaways from the first leg of the Tour? What do you want to work on?
RC: On the CT all the waves are different than what I've surfed on the QS (Qualifying Series) for the last few years, so it's about readapting to those waves... I just really want to perform and do my best. Just come out of every heat knowing I've done everything I can. I'm waiting for it all to come together for me.

Keanu Asing (HAW)

Faces Profile

Keanu Asing winning in Round 2 of the 2015 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Keanu Asing earned his first CT heat win in Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. - WSL

WSL: How are you feeling after your first three events on Tour?
Keanu Asing: West Oz (Margaret River) was fun. The first time I went I never got to surf The Box and I've never been there with so much swell. That was a cool thing to see and surf some different waves. I didn't have a good run in the contest, that's something I have to work on and adapt to. I have to prepare for the waves I've never really surfed before. It's tough coming against stuff like that, having never surfed there or experienced the wave.

WSL: Watching some of your waves there, it looked like it was quite an experience.
KA: You know that wave is really tough on the south, you saw some of the best guys falling so you know it's tricky. I tried the best I could, but I could only do so much. It was tough, but it's just a learning experience. Those are the things I have to go through. I'm not going to learn everything all at once, so it's okay.

Check out some of the heavy wipeouts at The Box.

WSL: How do you feel about your performance so far, and what are your takeaways?
KA: I'm not dwelling on the last couple results. I just try to see where the guys are taking off, what they're choosing. If I lose in an early round and leave, I don't take anything out of it. If I stick around and watch and study my opponents surf heats and how they approach things that's going to be important for me later in the year. It's my rookie year and that's all I can do right now.

Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)

Faces Profile

Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) shows his fins during Round 5 of the Quiksilver Pro. Wiggolly Dantas came out swinging in his rookie debut, making it all the way to the Quarterfinals of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

WSL: You seem pretty confident coming out the gates.
Wiggolly Dantas: I feel good my first year on Tour. I'm really happy. I just want to make good results and show how I can surf.

WSL: What do you consider to be a good result?
WD: Making the Semifinals or winning the contest.

WSL: How does it feel going home for the next event?
WD: It's so good going back home because of the support. I'm going to see my family and my girlfriend is going to be there. Everyone in Brazil supports us a lot too so I think it's going to be better for us Brazilians for sure.

WSL: How do you feel about the upcoming leg of the Tour (Brazil, Fiji and J-Bay)?
WD: It's going to be a good leg. Barrel wave, long right wave, Brazil could be big or be small. I just want to go and have fun with my friends.

Italo Ferreira (BRA)

Faces Profile

Italo Ferreira (BRA) sends water off the top in Round 3. Italo Ferreira put the world's best on high alert when he took down 11-time World Champ Kelly Slater in Round 3 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. - WSL

WSL: The Oakley Lowers Pro was your first QS event as a CT surfer. What was that like?
Italo Ferreira: That is the kind of wave I like to surf. It allows me to do a lot of maneuvers, so I've done a lot of practices and it gave me good results.

WSL: The Brazilians on Tour seem to really band together. Do you guys have a rivalry among each other? Is there a sense of competitiveness?
IF: We are always focused when we hit the water so we don't joke around. Now, when we are out of the water it's a different story. We joke around and have a good time.

Matt Banting

Faces Profile

Matt Banting of Australia surfs during Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia on Saturday February 28, 2015. Matt Banting earned a massive two-wave total of 17.76 in his first heat as a CT competitor. - WSL / Simon Williams

WSL: What's the difference between competing on the CT and on the QS?
Matt Banting: Everyone is super hungry, the Brazilians have come out strong. It was surprising to see Filipe (Toledo) win the first event, and it builds a bit of hunger for me too.

WSL: What are your goals going into the next leg of the Tour?
MB: I'd love to make it out of that Round 3 and start getting a couple Round 5 and Quarters and slowly start building results. It would be good to get a good couple numbers on the board.

WSL: Overall thoughts about the Tour so far?
MB: It's going to be a big learning curve for me this year.

Catch all the rookies, plus the season pros, surf in the Oi Rio Pro LIVE daily here and on the WSL app from May 11-22.