The return of Australian competitive surfing is upon us and there are some insane matchups on tap today for the opening rounds of the Tweed Coast Pro. After this ridiculously crazy offseason, it's time to see what World Champs, Olympic team members, style icons and a slew of hungry rookies are going to bring as they pull the jersey back on.
When I first saw the heat draw I almost thought I was dreaming. How's this for a Round 1 duel: tour beast Julian Wilson takes on West Oz's hottest young talent (and Championship Tour rookie) Jack Robinson and the man with finest mullet in all the land, even better than Joe Exotic's, Mikey Wright. Talk about a potential for fireworks!
Mikey has been on fire after coming back from his 2019 back injury. Releasing jaw-dropping video parts in Quiksilver's "Soft Serve" and "Mikey Wright: Back In The Water," the man's lip attack is still as absurdly violent as ever.
Before the hiatus from competition, Julian managed to snag the crown of the Newcastle Pro against Ryan Callinan, who we'll also see in action on the Tweed Coast. With one of the only major QS wins this year, Julian has to be feeling good about putting the jersey back on. Based on recent clips on his YouTube channel, he's been working on his fin blows and aerial game in windy, rampy conditions. And as we've seen with the forecast for this weekend, wind will be part of the equation, so expect Julian to use it to his advantage and maybe punt a few full rotation 3's.
On the women's side of the draw, two-time World Champ Tyler Wright will be going up against young gun Molly Picklum and the always dangerous Sally Fitzgibbons. Both Tyler and Molly dropped some sick clips in Rip Curl's "Postcards From Morgs" so they'll be plenty familiar with each other's surfing.
Tyler also could get a boost in motivation with two of her siblings, Owen and Mikey, also in the comp. Could we see the Wrights sweep this event? You bet we could. After dealing with health issues for much of 2019, Tyler made her return to competition last year on Maui, where she played the roll of spoiler in the World Title race and ended up with a runner-up finish to Stephanie Gilmore.
And speaking of the seven-time World Champ, she is as familiar with Tweed as it gets. The Tweed Coast -- just a short distance from Coolangatta -- is a second home to Steph. It helped nurture and create her impeccable style during her formative years. Back in a jersey, I can't wait to see Steph apply that veteran strategic brilliance and silky smooth style.
Then there's the human powder keg, Wade Carmichael. Matched up against a man who made a career out of slaying giants, Adrian Buchan, and Connor O'Leary. This heat's going to be a full power grab with strong rail work being the name of the game. Ace certainly knows how to win heats, but it'll be interesting to see what kind of work, power and passion Wade brings.
I'm also really psyched to see what the "groms" can do this weekend. Twenty-year-old Macy Callaghan and 23-year-old Isabella Nichols are matched up against one another in the first heat of the comp. If we're looking for a glimpse into the future of women's CT surfing, this will be an important heat to keep an eye on.
Paired up in Round 1, Heat 4, I can't wait to see 2021 CT rookies Matthew McGillivray and Morgan Cibilic continue their somewhat comedic rivalry, which kicked off in "Postcards From Morgs." Rounding out the heat will be R-Cal, who's been one of the most impressive surfers on Tour these past couple years.
There's all kinds of intrigue and potential for drama. Pro surfing is getting back in the ocean today, and seriously, I cannot wait!
Want to see the complete heat draw for yourself? Click here for all the matchups.