- WSL / Ed Sloane

The third event of the Australian leg of the 2016 Championship Tour produced a new World Title rivalry, a lifeline for Sebastian Zietz, an emotional hometown retirement for Taj Burrow, the return of Jordy Smith and some stellar rookie performances.

Here, we break down why this was an event that mattered.

West Australia's Best Ever Surfer Gets His Send Off

The announcement that the 2016 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro event would be the last time Taj Burrow would compete at the CT level was huge. When he was chaired up the stairs at Main Break after his Round Three loss, it was a touching moment for one of surfing's greatest icons and Western Australia's favorite son.

Taj Burrow's Farewell Celebration at Margaret River
The surf legend was carried through the event site after his final CT appearance at the iconic break.

Zietz Gets A CT Lifeline

"That was the toughest pill to swallow," Sebastian Zietz said heading into the 2017 Australian leg. "I want to be around the best surfers in the world, and in the best waves."

The affable surfer from Hawaii had failed to make the CT in 2015 and it was only through a series of injury withdrawals that he managed a start on the Gold Coast.

A solid results at Snapper and Bells kept his place, before his stunning upset win at Margaret River saw him finish the Australian leg as the World No. 2. More than that, it cemented his CT status for 2016, a position he retained all the way through to 2019.

Seabass on Landing at World No. 2: "Woah, Radical"
Sebastian Zietz was as stoked as ever to win the Drug Aware Margaret Pro -- his first CT win ever -- and learn he was No. 2.

Tyler and Courtney Take Over Title Race

At Margaret River, Courtney Conlogue and Tyler Wright clashed in their second head-to-head Final of the season. Conlogue was surfing in her third-straight Final, while both were hunting for their second win of the season. Wright ended up dominating, closing the gap on Conlogue's Tour lead.

However with neither Stephanie Gilmore nor Carissa Moore managing to make a Final during the entire Australian leg, it felt like a changing of the guard. With hindsight it was; Wright would go on to claim her first World Title later in the year with Conlogue finishing as World No. 2.

Margies Final Heat Recap: Courtney vs. Tyler
In a battle of powerhouse surfers, see how the heavy, final battle at the women''s Drug Aware Pro unfolded.

Jordy's Comeback

Jordy Smith had endured a horror 2015 season, with a series of serious injuries meaning he missed six events and had almost six months out of the water. But 2016 was a pivotal year and at Margarets he showed that he was back, perhaps better than ever.

He'd committed to a new training regime and looked hungry and focused. A Round Five loss may not seem that much of a signpost, but the signals were there in the powerful West Oz surf. He would go onto finish the year as World No.2 and over the next four seasons string together the most consistent results of his entire career.

Jordy Smith's Year of Living Painfully
2015 was a tough year for the South African, who struggled with injuries that put his career in doubt. Smith discusses his long road back.

Bronte and Leo Hit The Main Stage

The then 18-year-old Italian Leonardo Fioravanti was one of the stars of the event. Coming in as an injury replacement, he defeated two World Champions -- Kelly Slater and Adriano de Souza -- on his way to the Quarterfinals, proving surfing had a new star on its hands.

In the Womens it was local Bronte Macaulay, an another injury replacement, who showed that she had the talent to have a sustained career at the highest level. In Round One she defeated Johanne Defay and six-time World Champ Stephanie Gilmore, and showed throughout the event that it just wasn't the home-turf advantage that saw her match her illustrious peers.

Bronte Macaulay's Backhand Weapon
The injury replacement rattles the cages of Johanne Defay and Stephanie Gilmore in Round One.
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