With injury withdrawals from Owen Wright, Bede Durbidge, Alejo Muniz and Lakey Peterson four exciting surfers will get the opportunity to flare things up on the Gold Coast at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro.
Meet the replacements...
Adam Melling finished the 2015 season ranked 23rd, just one spot shy of the cutoff. That put him in pole position as the first CT replacement.
When the injured Owen Wright announced he will not compete in the first six events, the door opened for Melling, who now has the opportunity to qualify through the CT should he net some solid results between now and J-Bay. Having spent six seasons at the elite level, Melling is no rookie, and while he's provided flashes of brilliance, his goal now is to keep the lights on.
Another Lennox Head local, Stu Kennedy was on pins and needles watching Kolohe Andino compete at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Had Andino made it through a few rounds he had a good shot at double qualifying for the Championship Tour. Unfortunately for Stu, Kolohe lost in Round 2 and was forced to use his QS rank to requalify, pushing Stu behind Ryan Callinan and eliminating his qualification hopes for this season. Turns out the 11th man position on the QS wasn't as bad as he thought.
In 2016, the replacement slots are distributed alternately between the CT and QS in order of the previous year's rankings. The first 2 spots that open up at each event go to the replacement list, beyond that the commissioner's office decides. Kennedy has been straddling the QS/CT wire, but with Bede's recovery timeline unknown, he may have his best CT shot yet. Stay tuned...
Sebastian Zietz had a decent start in Australia last year, but his CT season went seriously south shortly afterward. His low point came at Trestles, where he was nailed with an interference call during a heat he was winning.
With Alejo Muniz's unexpected withdrawal (his knee isn't quite yet 100 percent), Seabass got the nod from the commissioner's office as to take his spot. If he wants more of those he'll undoubtedly have to prove he was worth it.
Bronte Macauley will be surfing the Roxy Pro because CT star Lakey Peterson recently broke her ankle and withdrew from the first event. Macaulay has an elite level reputation to live up to: Her dad, Dave Macaulay, was on the Championship Tour in the 1980s and '90s. She just missed the CT cutoff in 2015, so we expect her to make the most of this opportunity.