With the Australian Leg of the Championship Tour set to kick off on April 1st, we're taking a look at four of the dreaded heat draws going into Newcastle. To be the best you gotta beat the best, and these are the toughest competitors on Tour.
After rolling to her fourth World Title in 2019, Carissa Moore, then 27, had plans to take 2020 off.
"If I learned anything about myself the past few years, it's that I am a 100%, all in person. I have dedicated the last ten years of my life to competing at the highest level and want to continue to do that well into my thirties," she explained on Instagram.
"This break is a press refresh so that I can come back to the tour happier and more excited than ever in 2021," she continued.
Of course, 2020 didn't go as anybody planned, but one of the small silver linings of Moore's time during the pandemic was that she was able to stay home in Hawaii and reconnect with friends, family, the islands and her surfing.
And when it was time to pull the jersey on last December, she surfed with more purpose and conviction than ever. Displaying her signature grace under pressure at Pipeline, she put the sport of surfing on her back and carried it forward.
Poised and confident, Moore put in a barrel-riding, barrier-breaking performance on the final day of the Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Pipeline. And while Australia's Tyler Wright edged her out in a close Final to win the event, Moore's surfing made a profound statement.
"These are the waves that I have grown up training in and have spent most of my life surfing," Moore told the WSL. "We haven't had a female presence on the North Shore of Oahu for over 10 years."
"I have always dreamed of being able to have the opportunity to compete for a Vans Triple Crown title," she explained. "Winning a Triple Crown means that you can handle Haleiwa, Sunset and Pipeline: three of the most challenging waves, not only on Oahu, but in the world."
Now, after handling said waves, Moore will be forced to shift her focus to more tricky Australian conditions, with the variables that come with new stops on Tour. Defending her fourth World Title while chasing her fifth, her well-honed competitive savvy is what will carry her through the great Australian leg, with its four stops, the longest leg in recent Tour history, and the longest she's ever been away from home.
Moore should be supremely confident as she's won at both Newcastle and Margaret River in the past. And those wins have come in conditions ranging from three-foot sandbar runners to well overhead Main Break bombs, proving that she can handle any and all conditions.
As far as the other two stops of the Aussie leg, she'll be in the same boat as most other Tour surfers. When it comes to the left-handers at Narrabeen and Rottnest Island, they present a bit of an unknown, but Moore's backhand attack is strong and powerful.
She proved at Pipe she can push over the ledge and charge the barrel. And given what we've seen from her on small days in idyllic lefts like Cloudbreak in Fiji, she can go top to bottom and connect all the dots if the tube is not an option.
Throughout her career, Moore's successes have always been predicated on the strength of her mental game combined with the quality of the waves. When it's pumping and she's in her happy place (and has a good board under her feet) she's practically impossible to beat.
Soon enough we'll see exactly how hungry she is for a fifth World Title.
Watch the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona live April 1-11.