The World Surf League (WSL) 2021 Championship Tour (CT) has arrived in the iconic surf town of Newcastle ahead of the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona. The event is set to commence tomorrow morning and Merewether and will be the first of four elite CT events to run in Australia over the next two months.
It will be the first time World Title points will be on offer in Newcastle for almost three decades with some CT competitors never having surfed here before. Current World No. 1 and two-time WSL World Champion, John John Florence (HAW), is in Newcastle for the first time and is preparing for a huge Australian leg as he looks for his third title.
"It feels great to be in a society that is close to COVID-19 free," said Florence. "I definitely feel ready and excited to start competing again tomorrow and with four events over the coming two months, it's really reassuring to the Tour for this season. With the Olympics as well, this year having these events up and running is the best way for me to prepare for the Olympics. I'm competing here against the best surfers in the world and that's the ideal preparation."
Two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) comes to Newcastle ranked first in the world and looks to keep that spot when the competition culminates in the next two weeks. Having finaled at Qualifying Series events in Newcastle before, Wright is confident she has what it takes to claim victory at the opening event of the CT Australian leg.
"Starting our 2021 season here in Newcastle and running four events back-to-back in Australia just seems like the right and logical decision for our sport," said Wright. "COVID-19 has thrown a spanner in the works of our sport and this is our way out and to be competing again on the WSL Championship Tour is great. These new venues are also exciting to us and Newcastle has been a really pleasant welcoming experience."
Reigning four-time WSL World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) is poised for a massive 2021 with her eyes not only on a fifth title but also on Olympic Gold as surfing looks to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo later this year. A confidence-building result will be what Moore is looking for in Newcastle but she'll have a tough start to her campaign, coming up against Sage Erickson (USA) and local wildcard Philippa Anderson (AUS) in her opening round heat.
"I love being in Australia," said Moore. "Fourteen days of quarantine was difficult but now we're released into what is much more a normal society without COVID-19 feels really cool. "I'm super excited to compete again, we lost momentum last year but now with four events in front of us we are all really pumped - A little nervous for sure but excited as well."
Another World Title holder that will have the task of taking on a local wildcard is reigning WSL Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) who has matched up with Merewether standout Jackson Baker (AUS) and 2021 CT Rookie Jack Robinson (AUS) in Heat
All eyes will be on Heat 10 of Seeding Round 1 as local hero Ryan Callinan (AUS) hits the water at his home break of Merewether. The last time an event was contested for World Title Points in his hometown, Callinan wasn't even born, and with no Novacastian male ever claiming victory at their major local event, the locals will have high hopes for Callinan to make history in Newcastle this week.
Heat 4 of Women's Round 1 will see seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) take on Johanne Defay (FRA) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS), with all three competitors having won events at Merewether in the past.
The men's draw is filled with possible favorites as five of the last seven Qualifying Series (QS) winners at Merewether will compete in this year's CT competition. Injury replacements Mikey Wright (AUS) and Matt Banting (AUS) will come into the draw to replace Kelly Slater (USA) and Kolohe Andino (USA), respectively, as the American duo recover from foot and ankle injuries.
The Road to the Rip Curl WSL Finals Begins Following the CT kickoff in Hawaii, Newcastle continues the road to the Rip Curl WSL Finals. The Rip Curl WSL Finals is the new one-day, playoff-style competition that will determine the World Champions in September. The Rip Curl WSL Finals will see the top five male and top five female surfers who accumulated the most points during CT compete for the 2021 World Titles in a single day of intense, world-class surfing at Lower Trestles in Southern California.
Watch LIVE All the action from the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and the free WSL app. Also, check local listings for coverage from the WSL's broadcast partners.
Free Ticket Reservations for Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Due to COVID-19 regulations limiting crowd size, the WSL is requiring fans to reserve FREE tickets to the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona. Although the WSL's Tiketek ballot is closed and tickets have been allocated, each competition day at 11:00 a.m. AEDT, unclaimed ticket reservations will become available for free on the Ticketek website. Fans can check in each day at 11:00 a.m. AEDT for free ticket reservations. Please read the WSL's event guide for more information and FAQs on ticket reservations. Tickets will be issued throughout the event. Reserve your FREE tickets at wsl.tv/NewcastleTickets.
COVID-19 Updates Due to COVID-19 regulations limiting crowd size, WSL is requiring fans to reserve FREE tickets to our upcoming Australian competition. To learn more, please read the WSL's event guide for information on free ticket reservations and FAQs. Reserve your FREE tickets at wsl.tv/NewcastleTickets.
The WSL will implement a robust and thorough COVID-19 health and safety plan for each event during the Australian leg of the CT in accordance with federal and state guidance. The WSL's health and safety plan includes physical distancing measures, temperature checks, enhanced high-touch cleaning at the event site, contact tracing procedures, sanitizer stations throughout the event site, and minimal personnel on-site.
All traveling athletes and support staff completed the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine and received medical clearance from public health officials before entering the general community.
Due to COVID-19, the Australian CT events will run based on state border closures, strictly adhering to federal and state government guidelines and restrictions. All tour stops and dates subject to change due to applicable COVID-19 related restrictions, including global travel restrictions.
The Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona is proudly supported by our partners Rip Curl, Corona, the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, The City of Newcastle, Red Bull, Oakley, Hydro Flask, Harvey Norman, Bonsoy, Boost Mobile, Dometic Outdoor, Bond University, BF Goodrich, Burton Automotive, and Oakberry.
Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Women's Seeding Round 1 Matchups: Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS) Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA), Tyler Wright (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS) Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA), Philippa Anderson (AUS) Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS) Heat 5: Caroline Marks (USA), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRI) Heat 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Men's Seeding Round 1 Matchups: Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Conner Coffin (USA), Deivid Silva (BRA) Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Morgan Cibilic (AUS) Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW), Yago Dora (BRA), Mikey Wright (AUS) Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Frederico Morais (PRT), Matt Banting (AUS) Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Matthew McGillivray (ZAF), Crosby Colapinto (USA) Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Jack Robinson (AUS), Jackson Baker (AUS) Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Connor O'Leary (AUS) Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS), Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Alex Ribeiro (BRA) Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS) Heat 10: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) Heat 11: Jack Freestone (AUS), Michel Bourez (FRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Heat 12: Caio Ibelli (BRA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Adriano de Souza (BRA)