- WSL / Wes Burton

This week feels a bit like the calm before the storm, with Championship Tour athletes released from hotel quarantine and getting some reps in before the first Championship Tour event in a good while.

While the season began at Pipeline in December last year, surfers have been back on the bench waiting for things to get back underway. Sadly Kolohe Andino injured his ankle and has already headed home to California, but the likes of Italo Ferreira and the rest of the Tour have headed to Newcastle and begun to warm up.

Luckily, that coincided with a good run of swell and some nice conditions, which means they'll have had a good chance to stretch out since that two-week spell in lockdown. So, whose going to come out of the gate firing?

Italo Gets To Know Newcastle

Italo went straight from quarantine in Sydney to Newcastle to work out some pent-up energy. Italo was almost crawling the walls in his hotel room, and now he's making up for the time out of the water, taking his high-energy approach out on some Merywether shore-breaks.

Kolohe Is Headed Home

Kolohe also spent two weeks on lockdown, but sadly the Californian didn't get to stick around to enjoy Australia. The perennial CT standout aggravated an existing injury he was hoping would have benefited from the quarantine downtime, and on his doctor's advice he's headed home to get better, missing the Australian leg of the Championship Tour.

Banting Is In The Big Leagues

While no one is happy that Kolohe is out, it's a big opportunity for Matt Banting who -- as the current QS leader -- gets a spot in the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona. Banting, a former CT surfer, has been on a tear, winning the recent Vissla Central Coast Pro, after a third at the Great Lakes Pro. Before that, he'd taken out the 2020 iteration of the Vissla Central Coast Pro. This follows a string of good QS results which speak to Banting's burning desire to get back on Tour.

Matt Banting on Day 4 at the Great Lakes Pro QS1,000 Matt Banting has been putting some solid results to together -- don't forget he's a former CT surfer - WSL / Ethan Smith

Slow Flow With J-Flo

Want to improve your technique? Spend six and a half minutes with John John Florence and his new "Slow It Down" edit on YouTube. Your surfing will thank you. Featuring super slo-mo footage of the World Number One doing work on his rail and blowing tail, it's rare to be able to really be able to see all of the micro adjustments and delicate body positioning he utilizes as he goes through a session.

Big Love For The GOAT

Kelly Slater has had a big impact on Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton's life, after helping him pursue a passion for surfing. Hamilton posted a touching tribute to Kelly. His words are powerful enough, so we'll let him tell the story:

How Lakey Made It Through Quarantine **

Like most of her CT peers, Lakey Peterson was cooped up in Sydney for two weeks in hotel quarantine -- as per Australian law. She's just released a new episode of her vlog which shows you how she spent her days, and how she made the most of the time to be in a good place to perform at Newcastle and Narrabeen.

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