There were a number of big announcements made by the WSL today. The one that really kicks the imagination into overdrive is the prospect of the World Title being decided by a surf off starting in 2021. Last season, the title came down to Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina in all-time, firing Pipe conditions. Magic was in the air as the Brasilian Storm culminated with Italo's first Title.
Like game seven of the NBA Finals or the World Series, the potential for drama in a surf off scenario -- where it's winner take all -- is almost limitless. So long as the ocean provides.
The details of how many surfers will be involved in the surf off and how the format actually functions are coming this July. But with some time on our hands, we got to day-dreaming about surf-off scenarios we'd love to see.
For the sake of argument, we're saying any Tour location is fair game. Here are five of our favorites (tell us yours in the comments below):
1. John John Florence versus Kelly Slater at Teahupoo
Arguably the two best tube riders on the planet. Watching the master and protégé go toe-to-toe in maxing Teahupoo would be incredible.
The two already met in the 2016 Final at Teahupoo, and while the surf was good, it wasn't epic. And there wasn't a Title on the line. Slater took the heat (his last CT victory).
It's anybody's guess how long the 11-time World Champ is going to keep competing. At 48 years old, lately he's looking as tack sharp as ever. Meanwhile, Florence is back from injury and surfing strong. A World Title surf off between the GOAT and John in 12-foot Tahitian kegs, can you imagine!
2. Carissa Moore versus Stephanie Gilmore at Honolua Bay
Moore and Gilmore are the two winningest surfers at Honolua Bay and both have clinched World Titles there. Moore as recently as last season (even if Gilmore did beat her in the Semis and go on to win the event).
Their respective styles and approaches are perfectly suited for the long Maui walls of the Bay. And both are highly-skilled tube riders, a critical necessity for that big, barreling section on the take-off.
Should a surf off for the Women's World Title come down to Moore and Gilmore, hopefully the surf is six- to eight-foot, the wind is offshore and the crowd on the cliff is going absolutely bananas.
3. The Brasilian Storm In Rio
Hypothetically speaking, a surf off could potentially feature multiple surfers, similar to the four-man Final of the 2003 Pipe Masters in which Andy Irons edged out Slater.
For drama's sake, what if a four-man final featured Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Adriano De Souza all throwing haymakers in Rio? With hundreds of thousands of fans on the beach going nuts, it would be a spectacle the likes of which Brasilian surfing has never seen.
4. Courtney Conlogue versus Sally Fitzgibbons at G-Land
Two of the hardest chargers on the Women's Tour embroiled in an epic World Title surf off in the jungles of Java would be insane.
We've seen what both are capable of at flexing Cloudbreak in Fiji. A battle at G-Land would be much the same … just with tigers. Conlogue won in Fiji in 2017, Fitzgibbons won in 2015. How good would an Indo showdown with it all on the line be?
5. Kolohe Andino versus Griffin Colapinto at Lower Trestles
True, it's been a few years since the CT rolled through San Clemente, but should the cobblestone point return to the schedule someday, it would be a hoot to see homegrown talents Kolohe Andino and Griffin Colapinto trading blows at the most high-performance wave in America.
Colapinto came of age looking up to Andino. The two have since spent countless hours in the water at Lowers. Add an overhead south swell, some glassy conditions and World Title implications to the mix and you've got yourself the makings of a modern California classic.