Tyler Wright won a hard-fought victory at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, striking back at current tour leader Courtney Conlogue who finished runner-up. Wright, the current World No. 2, dominated the Final battle against Conlogue from start to finish, throwing away eight-point scores and replacing them with nines -- including one big score for a barrel -- before it was all said and done.
For defending champion Conlogue, the second-place finish stings, especially after she won every heat up until the final. Still, Conlogue will leave Western Australia with the points lead on the rankings, and the leader's symbolic yellow jersey heading into Rio, the next event. (Tyler will head to Rio with 25,200 points, while Courtney will have 26,000).
But beyond the points battle, a quick glance at the ratings at the end of the Australian suggests some disruption to the dominance of three-time, reigning World Champion Carissa Moore, and six-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore. Together, their success has meant domination for almost a decade.
While the power shift isn't as dramatic as on the men's tour, where rookies are ruling the roost, the tide has clearly begun to turn. In the three events that have run so far, Conlogue has made every final and Tyler has won both finals she's made. Gilmore and Moore, however, despite some strong performances, have become conspicuous absences in finals. Neither has made a final heat yet in 2016.
It's not just Tyler and Courtney who are making the difference. Margaret's saw a number of new faces winning final heats, including Tatiana Weston-Webb. Since arriving on the Championship Tour in 2015, she's been a serious threat with impressive heat strategies and a fearlessness that's incredibly refreshing. That skill was in full effect in her Quarterfinal heat against veteran surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, in which she led from the start and didn't let go.
Courtney defeated Weston-Webb in their Semifinal soon after, but the Tour sophomore again left a dent in the ranks, making it to World No. 3 -- finally cracking the women's ironclad Top 5.
Another surfer slowly breaking through is far from a new face, but a woman who has been hanging on by the skin of her teeth -- until now. Laura Enever has finally started to shine on the Championship Tour, and made her first Quarterfinal in nearly a year at Margaret River. She was totally undergunned against the formidable Courtney Conlogue, but it was heartening to see her transcend what might be more of a mental block than a lack of skill.
The women's next stop, the Oi Rio Pro, will test them in decidedly different conditions that the wild western waves. Catch them in the Brazilian beachbreaks starting May 10 local time.