It's a fair to say that 2016 saw pro surfing's deck of cards being not so much shuffled, as thrown into the air in a 30 knot onshore gale. There was some mega ratings jumps as key surfers, many of whom struggled in 2015, suddenly found their form, fitness and competitive focus in 2016. Here are this year's biggest jumpers up the Jeep Leaderboard.
2016 Rank: No. 2. Movement: + 26
A combination of shoulder, knee and back injuries saw Smith out of the water for a fair whack of 2015 and forced him to miss five events. Smith regained fitness at the back end of the year, and came back from a second round loss at Snapper to make the final at Bells. He was then consistent, up until his win at Trestles, which saw him briefly enter the World Title calculations. A strong finish however saw him rise up to No.2 in the world. After the worst year of his career in 2015, his 26 place jump proved that Smith was well and truly back where he belongs.
2016 Rank: No. 4. Movement: + 21
"The reason that I'm confident is that I have a formula and I'm not worrying about anybody else," Kolohe Andino said in France. "Previously I didn't have a formula and I did worry about everybody else." That turnaround helped Andino rise from 25th (last year he was forced to requalify through the QS), up to 4th. Perhaps no surfer showed greater improvement and Andino looks set to entrench himself in the sport's upper echelons.
2016 Rank: No. 6. Movement: + 15
By his own admission Bourez was struggling last year, a neck injury had him questioning his commitment to the tour. He missed two events, and surfed through the pain in others, finishing 21st, his lowest ranking in seven years on tour. Bourez however fought back and upped his commitment. A quarterfinal at Bells showed he was back to his best, while his win at Pipe capped a year which proved he was still at the very top of his game.
2016 Rank: No. 14. Movement: + 14
Seabass was resigned to a year on the QS in 2017, after missing the cut last year. It was only through a number of injuries that he was given a late call up to Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. A solid performance there set the ball rolling, and when he won his first CT event at Margaret River, he had basically ensured requalification by April. A brief mid-year slump was corrected by a 9th and 5th in Europe, and the Hawaiian finished in 12th place, a career high.
John John Florence
2016 Rank: No. 1. Movement: + 13
2015 saw John John Florence again hampered by injury, and he missed Fiji and J-Bay, before returning never quite fully fit. His 14th place was never a good return for his talents. In 2016 he was fully fit and stayed close enough to Wilko during his blistering start to stay in the mix. By the time he received the Yellow Jersey at Trestles, it seemed inevitable that he wouldn't give it up. He finished the year with two event wins, two other finals, a Triple Crown win and a World Title. Enough improvement for you?
2016 Rank: No. 5. Movement: + 13
Wilko's last six end of year rankings read 18, 23, 22, 24, 20 and 24. So when he won the first two events of the year, no one was more surprised than perhaps Wilko himself. With his good mate Glenn "Micro" Hall as his coach, and a new fitness regime, Wilko held on to the Yellow Jersey for six consecutive events. His form tailed off in the back half of the year, but that doesn't take away from a year in which Wilko finally managed to showcase his freaky talent in the competitive realm and secured a top 5 finish.