Caio Ibelli is entering his rookie season with some momentum. Not only did he dominate the QS, he managed to impact the world title race in 2015 while surfing as an injury replacement at the Moche Rip Curl Pro. Ibelli's aggressive acceleration fed right into his aerial assault, helping him edge World Title contender Owen Wright. The upset put elite pros on notice.
Chelsea Tuach demonstrated her CT chops when she stood tall against three-time World Champ Carissa Moore at the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing. The rising star from Barbados gave us a good look at her precise technique while tearing up the Huntington Beach beachbreak.
Jack Freestone had an up and down season in 2015 but his end-of-year performances in Hawaii not only solidified his spot on this year's elite Tour, it earned him some major cred. Freestone earned the first perfect 10 of the Vans Triple Crown by emerging from an Inside Sunset bowl during Round 3 at the Vans World Cup.
Kanoa Igarashi brings a very dangerous X factor to his heats: endurance. The Huntington Beach native is just 18 years old and has shown to surf solid through some of the world's notorious leg burners. He earned a near-perfect 9.87 in Round 1 of the 2015 QS event in Cascais for this impressive combination of moves.
Keely Andrew put the world on notice when she made the Quarterfinals of the Oi Rio Pro as a wildcard, topping Tyler Wright and Coco Ho in Round 1 and eliminating Johanne Defay in Round 4 with a solid show of progression. Andrew had the opportunity to shake her nerves having by competing in four CT events in place of the injured Stephanie Gilmore. She's likely to be an even bigger threat now that she has elite-level experience.
Alex Ribeiro is sure to up the ante as the Brazilian Storm continues to rage on the CT. He's already tested his mettle against the world's best, competing in last year's event in Rio. Though he ultimately lost his Round 2 heat to John John Florence, he had the Hawaiian phenom against the ropes for the majority of the heat with moves like this.
Conner Coffin's rail game is, according to WSL analyst Ross Williams, franchise worthy. On a Tour where the air game is pretty even Coffin's powerful top-to-bottom surfing could make him a big threat in places like the Gold Coast and J-Bay. At the 2015 Hawaiian Pro her earned a 9.40 linking his turns together like this.
Davey Cathels was the second to last man in, finishing at No. 10 on the QS rankings.. Despite his rank, Cathels shouldn't be taken lightly. At the Oi HD Sao Paulo Open, Cathels eliminated fellow rookie Jack Freestone in the Quarterfinals before finishing runner-up to Miguel Pupo.
Ryan Callinan was the final rookie of the 2016 class, narrowly making the cut after several CT surfers double qualified. But he's proven to be just as lethal against the world's best. Callinan made it to the Semifinals of the Hawaiian Pro and in unwieldy conditions, pulled off a solid line of progressive maneuvers for the second highest score of the heat.