This year marks the greatest paradigm shift in the history of women's surfing. At the onset of the 2104 season, the ASP Top 17 added Trestles, Fiji and Maui to the already packed Tour schedule.
But what does it actually mean to the battle for the world surfing crown? For one, different waves favor different styles of surfing â€“ and hence, different surfers. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses as an athlete. As keen observers of the men's Tour would have noticed, we expect the aerialists to do well at Trestles and the chargers to do well at Cloudbreak. The women's WCT has predominantly been held in beachbreaks over recent years and we haven't had the chance to really identify who out of this Generation Next of the ASP Top 17 is going to be the 'danger woman' in barreling reef breaks. The women's performances in Fiji helped narrow that down.
'...the greatest paradigm shift in the history of women's surfing.'
I am equally eager about the addition of Lower Trestles to the schedule. For the past few seasons, we have been treated to web clips of various athletes of the women's tour tearing the proverbial bag out of the revered cobblestone peak â€“ considered by most to be the most high-performance wave on the planet. We know that the women have all the tricks because we have seen glimmers of them online - the internet would never lie to us. This year in California, the ASP Top 17 will redefine contest surfing by bringing that 'free surf flair' to the colored jersey â€“ a flair that has been apparent for several seasons already on the men's tour. Quote me on it, "this is the most talented group of female surfers that have ever been assembled on the ASP WCT," and I am anticipating the battles and the shattering of the performance ceiling with relish.
The same can be said for Maui. Previously a fixture on the women's WCT, Honolua Bay is arguably one of the best waves in the world. The last years of the event were dominated by Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), with her winning the event every time she was in it ('07, '08, '09). Three in a row is not a bad record to have at a break. However, you would have to imagine that this will be the year that she is really challenged at Honolua Bay. The last time the ASP ran the event in 2009, a young Carissa Moore (HAW) was the wildcard, and an even younger Tyler Wright (AUS) watched from the stands on a sponsor trip. Now that they are all grown up, you would have to imagine that they will take it to Steph - particularly the reigning World Champion, competing on her home turf.
So, regard this as my save the date(s) for all of you. Come September 9th, all of the tricks and skills that have been very quietly honed, practiced and perfected will be on display in all their glory. November 25 â€“ we return to the one of the world's most beautiful pointbreaks on the island of Maui.
I urge you to tune in so that in years to come, you can retell the story of when you witnessed the world change. I, for one, plan on remembering 'where I was' when it all goes down.