The waiting period for the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona kicks on April 16 and when the spray finally settles and the winners are chaired up the beach we'll be halfway through the mega, four-stop Australian leg of the Championship Tour.
With all roads leading to the Rip Curl WSL Finals in California this September, rankings on the WSL Leaderboard are more critical than ever. The Final Five at the end of the season will have a shot at the 2021 World Title.
The WSL's Rosy Hodge and Kaipo Guerrero will be scrutinizing the movement on the leaderboard all season long. Here are their Final Five picks for the post-Narrabeen WSL Leaderboard:
Rosy's Picks For The Women's WSL Final 5 Post-Narrabeen
I mean, how can you not have Carissa in first right now? She stomped all over the competition at Newcastle, throwing down one of the best, most progressive performances we've ever seen from a woman in a competitive singlet. She also has that second-place finish from Pipe. But more than that, she looks super happy and content at the moment. She got the break she wanted in 2020 and looks rejuvenate and to be having a lot of fun. The confidence has to be really high right now and she's going to be so hard to stop.
2. Tyler Wright
Tyler won't be happy with her performance at Newcastle and I think she'll be looking to rectify that in Narrabeen. She had that tricky heat against Courtney Conlogue, but I think now her motivation levels are going to be sky high. At the beginning of a pro career her backhand wasn't necessarily considered a strength, but she quickly turned that around and was a weapon in places like Fiji. It is something she's worked on a lot with her coach Micro [Glen Hall]. I think she's going to do well at Narrabeen.
I'm going to put Isabella Nichols in third after Narrabeen. The top five hasn't really changed after Newcastle, but I was really impressed with her performance, especially beating Steph Gilmore in such a staunch fashion. Obviously, the Final was a different story as Carissa was rolling, but still, for Isabella, in her rookie season, to have already made a Final in the second event of the year, that's huge. I think if she can keep it all up she may crack the Top 5 after Narrabeen. She's got a really level head on their shoulders, which is great for competing. She seems fired up. She looks great. I think she's going to be dangerous.
Caroline Marks was another that I think is going to bring some fire to Narrabeen. She made the Semifinals in Newcastle, but I think we still haven't seen what she's capable of. I think after the expectations that we've put on her, and the expectations that she's put on herself, I think she's had a couple of losses that she's really learned from them and is at a stage in her career where big things can happen. That consistency is going to improve, and Narrabeen could be a break-out spot for her. She gets so much attention for her backhand, but I'm really excited to see her forehand in the Narrabeen lefts.
I'm going to have to roll with Sally Fitzgibbons in the fifth spot on the WSL Leaderboard after Narrabeen. She's already in the top five, and I think her event result in Newcastle really stunned her. That was a super close one that she lost to Keely Andrew, and I think she's going to bounce back and have an impact at Narrabeen. Number one, because her backhand is a strength, and number two, you can just tell how much work that is done in the offseason. She's arguably got the hardest draw of the Seeding Round with Johanne Defay and Sage Erickson. All of those women have lethal backhands, but I think Sally may come out with a little more fire and make a statement in that first round.
Kaipo's Picks For The Men's WSL Final 5 Post-Narrabeen
It's pretty predictable, but I think you have to have Italo in there at Number One. I describe him as happily confident right now. Nothing seems to affect his focus and confidence. He never seemed to get too rattled in Newcastle, even when he found himself behind in a heat. He doesn't need to be on the best waves of the heat to get big scores. He can create something seemingly out of nothing. That ability right there makes him a favorite in pretty much any and all conditions. I think that right there makes him a favorite going into Narrabeen.
I've got Gabe Medina in second after Narrabeen. The new coach, Andy King, seems to be working. And he's a newly wed. I think he's got a really solid foundation right now. Enjoying the best start of his CT career, he's already made two Finals in two events. He has a really, really high heat IQ and knows how to play the game. We saw that a number of times in Newcastle where he came from behind to win heats. Between the natural talent, the intelligence and the foundational changes with Andy King and his wife, as well as a budding rivalry with Italo, I think we can expect big things out of him in Narrabeen.
John John had a bit of a shocker in Newcastle, but I just don't think he's going to allow another upset. I just don't see how he lets that happen again. The chances are very, very slim. I'm going to say that John will be sitting third on the WSL Leaderboard after Narrabeen just based on talent and his desire to bounce back.
Coming in at number four, I'm putting Ryan Callinan 2.0. The consistency that he has right now, combined with the confidence from that Quarterfinal finish in Newcastle - which could have been a Semifinal finish or higher, it was that close - I just think he's on one right now. And with the left at Narrabeen, it's ideal for that layback throw tail that he has. We saw him apply that maneuver in France in 2018 with huge results. It's really a point of difference for him. No other surfers on Tour right now have that maneuver, and we know that judges generally reward those points of difference that separate one surfer from everyone else. And, of course, that translates into big numbers. He does that turn with such violent power, the judges are going to see something different and hopefully reward that.
5. Deivid Silva
This one is coming out of left field, but I think Deivid Silva grabs the fifth spot here. He's a bit of an underdog and nobody's really paying a ton of attention to him, which means he doesn't have a lot of pressure on him. And I think when we look at the beachbreak at Narrabbeen, his fast-twitch surfing could be a recipe for success. All those Brazilian surfers are spending time together and feeding off that energy, and I think a surfer like Silva can ride that momentum and turn to some heats.