The Australian leg of the Championship Tour is about to resume after a big winter on the North Shore of Oahu. That energy from Hawaii will be key for some of the World Title contenders, so let's look at some of the in-form surfers this Hawaiian season and why we can expect them to carry that momentum into Australia.
1. John John Florence Is Healthy And Surfing As Strong As Ever
After delivering unrivaled performances on the North Shore this past winter, John John Florence continues to prove he's in a league of his own. Fresh off a Pipe Masters victory against former world champion and rival, Gabriel Medina, Florence showed he had not lost one bit of his competitive edge following his knee injury in 2019. But it was performances out of the competition jersey that drew the most attention. The subtle mastery of his tube riding was on display daily at Backdoor and Pipeline, as well as a mind-blowing outer reef day. While his sandbar sessions with brothers Nathan and Ivan attracted other pros to bask in the friendly competition.
Fit and focused and competing on the world stage once again expect fireworks in Western Australia where he has set the benchmark before at both The Box and Main Break. Injury has been the only thing holding Florence back in recent years -- the fact he's fit should genuinely scare fellow competitors. While his experience at Newcastle and Narrabeen may be patchy, rest assured he will throw everything in his arsenal at translating that momentum from Hawaii into a world title run this season.
2. Carissa Moore Also Had A Big Winter On The North Shore
Tyler Wright may have won the first event of the season, but Carissa Moore's performance won the day at Pipeline. Her 9-point ride in the Semifinals won't be forgotten for a long time, and nor will the waves which saw her win a first-ever Digital Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Free-falling into the pit at Backdoor and coming out after the spit heralded a new era in professional surfing and set the bar for future events at Pipeline. Constantly pushing the limits wearing her signature smile, expect the four-time world champion to make herself right at home in Australia where she has enjoyed much success throughout her career.
3. Italo Ferriera Keeps Finding New Gears
With a relentless workout routine in hotel quarantine, it's hard to imagine anyone will strong-arm Italo Ferreira out of back-to-back world titles. Despite a disruptive 2020, the Brazilian hasn't taken his foot off the gas. He continued to drop stoke-filled edits and keep up the good vibes entertaining us during the extended offseason.
His most recent performances at Pipe were no exception, overcoming an injury he suffered during the Pipe Masters and finishing the event with a respectable third-place finish. His caffeine-fueled freesurfing sessions in Hawaii showed the world why he's such a freakishly unique talent and the one to beat in all conditions. With the first two events on the Australian leg held at peaky beach breaks expect Italo to blast off in trademark fashion. While some surfers can only sustain a high-energy run for a few weeks, Italo thrives on running at full-pace all the time.
4. Tyler Wright Is No.1 In The World With Four Events In Australia
You can bet after winning the first women's CT victory at Pipeline, Wright] is brimming with confidence ahead of the Australian leg. After dropping the first perfect ride of the season in Maui, then adapting to performing at surfing's ultimate proving ground, Wright is back to the form that helped her seal two world titles.
Her superior heat strategy against Moore in the final at Pipeline proved to be all the difference and has already set up an exciting title race between the pair. Now back competing on home soil and riding a wave of mainstream attention Wright knows this moment is hers to stand up and be counted. Especially at waves such as Newcastle and Narrabeen, heat strategy could make all the difference. Expect Tyler to continue her winning form.
5. Gabriel Medina Has Something To Prove
You can never count out Gabriel Medina. While the competition on the North Shore was abruptly cut short, the two-time world champion made use of his time on Oahu. A fixture at Pipeline, he wasted no time manhandling the monster days out there and finished runner-up to Florence in the Pipe Masters final. Not one to back down, his competitive prowess intimidates and inspires his rivals in equal measure. Gabe surfs on emotion and if he gets on a roll in Australia lookout. Having recently tied the knot with girlfriend Yasmin Brunet and reportedly is in the market for a new coach -- expect a steely focused Medina who has knuckled down from his younger days and appears motivated to prove he's still number one.
6. Versatility Could See Tatiana Weston-Webb Shine
The Brazilian-born, Hawaiian raised goofy-footer is an intimidating force on the Championship Tour. Described as fiery, strong, and confident there's no denying Tatiana Weston-Webb is on a mission since her full-time arrival to the Championship Tour in 2015. Her recent Hawaiian campaign saw her lay down some huge scores in Maui before the event switched to Pipeline. Despite losing to Carissa Moore in the semi-finals, a third-place finish sets her up nicely for the Australian leg. Her high-energy approach and unapologetic personality make her equally dangerous in three-foot beach breaks in Newcastle and Narrabeen as it does at ten-foot Margaret River or Rottnest.
7. Griffin Colapinto Was A Star In Hawaii And Is Bringing That Hype Down Under
Despite failing to fire at the Pipe Masters, the San Clemente native spent the past winter in Hawaii nailing clips and earning respect at Pipeline. Griffin Colapinto seemed to grow with confidence with each back-to-back swell logging multiple sessions at Pipe and Backdoor. Spearheading a whole new generation of young mainland chargers, Colapinto looks to have gone up a gear compared to his Rookie season on the CT. Young, humble, and hungry to perform at the best waves in the world, Griff has the hallmarks of a future world champion. A natural-born entertainer with style to boot, expect him to burst out of the gates once quarantine is over and put on a show.
8. Jordy Smith Has All The Pieces In Place
After buying a house on Oahu's North Shore in 2019 to spend significantly more time on the famed strip, Jordy Smith has put his residency to good use. This past winter saw the South African clamp down and practice the main weaknesses in his performance skillset. Smith has been logging hours at Pipeline at Backdoor and dragging his huge frame through throaty pits on the regular. The 33-year-old recently became a father for the first time too and with his other business ventures on the boil including SMTH Shapes surfboards and Heaps Normal beer he appears to have all bases covered. Having banked a fifth-place finish at the Pipe Masters and with an event schedule that favours his powerful rail game and aerial act there has never been a better time to pounce on that elusive world title.
9. Bronte Macaulay Could Cause Some Upsets
With waves as good as anywhere in the world in her backyard, Bronte Macaulay has been busy preparing for the Australian leg of the Championship Tour at home. After a successful stint in Hawaii winning the best performance award at Sunset in the Vans Digital Triple Crown on her first trip to the North Shore Macaulay is more than capable when it comes to competing with the world's best. The Margaret River local will have two events in her home state and knows Main Break better than most. Having competed throughout Australia as a junior, Macaulay will also be feeling confident heading back to Newcastle having won the event in 2020 when it was still classed a QS 5000. Despite not being a household name, expect big things from the West Australian when she's in the jersey.