From The WSL Vault: Five Moments That Mattered In Championship Tour History
Unforgettable performances from Kelly, Carissa, Bobby, Andy, Steph and John John that every see fan needs to see.
No doubt, 2020 has been a wild one, but the break in the live action did give us the opportunity to crack open the cavernous WSL vault and enjoy all the treasures inside, including performances that have been etched in our minds forever. From Andy Irons in Mexico to Carissa Moore at Sunset Beach (where she'll return next month), these are our five favorite moments from this year's WSL Vault series:
2006 Andy Irons Wins The Sickest Contest Ever ... Period!
The 2006 Rip Curl Pro Search Mexico delivered some of the most perfect surf ever ridden in a contest. Long, slabbing sand pointbreak perfection was the canvas which Andy Irons painted a masterpiece. The event became an instant classic, with surf described as "the best waves I've ever seen" by many of the Championship Tour surfers.
Andy, the three-time World Champ, dominated the event after displaying his signature style in the barrel and even launching a massive straight air in the Final to put an exclamation mark on this loco contest. The waves were so good that they finished the event in the first four days of the window. Andy didn't end up winning the World Title this year, but in classic A.I. style, of course, he shined the brightest, winning a contest that will go down in history as the Holy Grail of CT surf perfection..
Carissa Moore Wins at Solid Sunset Beach and Stephanie Gilmore Wins Her 3rd World Title At The 2009 Gidget Pro
The 2009 Gidget Pro Sunset Beach was held in big, overhead surf with offshore wind and good to great conditions. This was Carissa's second event on Tour and she took the crown in a star-studded Final that included Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Alana Blanchard. This was the moment that Carissa arrived. She was all of a sudden a serious threat. Despite losing the Final, Steph captured her third World Title, setting the stage for a long-running race for surfing dominance between her and Riss that continues to this day.
Kelly Slater Clinches His 8th World Title, But Bobby Martinez Wins Mundaka And Soldifies His Rookie Of The Year Status
Once upon a time in the hills of the Basque Country, a young Santa Barbara goofy-footer named Bobby Martinez made his case for Rookie of the Year awhile Slater's march to greatness roared on. The Event, mostly held in clean, green barreling lefts at Mundaka, was Bobby's second CT victory of 2006. Winning both Teahupo'o and Mundaka, Bobby's forehand barrel riding skills put the world on notice. Then there was Slater, who celebrated number eight by drinking champagne out of the trophy before the two were tossed in the harbor per longstanding tradition.
2012 Billabong Rio Pro: John John Florence Gets First Tour Win, Proves He Is More Than Just A Barrel Specialist
John John Florence, in his first year on Tour, beat 2012 World Champ Joel Parkinson to earn his first career win. The 2012 Billabong Rio Pro was held at Arpoador, the birthplace of Brazilian surf culture, in head-high beachbreak wedges. At the time, there were question marks around John John in small surf. His critics claimed he did not have the full, well-rounded skillset to make a Title run. His performance at the 2012 Rio Pro silenced them immediately. Putting together a solid display of innovative aerials, power hacks and sneaky tube rides, John John had finally arrived.
Love On The Rocks: The 2007 Rip Curl Pro Search Chile
The 2007 Rip Curl Pro Search Chile was just plain dangerous. The heavy, unforgiving left slabs in Arica, Chile, claimed more than its share of victims, while Andy Irons claimed victory over barrel savant Damien Hobgood and 2007 World Champ Mick Fanning. The waves were big and unforgiving. Thundering over an urchin-covered rock reef, at least two surfers were taken to the hospital during the contest after sustaining brutal wipeouts. The surf was raw. Andy's performance was raw. It's what a surf contest on one of surfing's more remote frontiers is all about.