After two events in Australia there are two new athletes on top of the WSL Leaderboard who have their peers asking some serious questions. Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina have put in such dominant performances that they've set themselves apart from all but a small clique of top-seed surfers going into Western Australia, where the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona and the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona will be held.
That means, right now, there's a solid gap opening up between the surfers at the very top of the rankings and everyone else. A lot can change, especially during the second half of the Tour at waves like Teahupo'o, but it's clear that when the Rip Curl WSL Finals rolls around, we're in for an explosive day of surfing.
Medina Is A Human Highlight Reel
Medina defeated Conner Coffin in the Final of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona with such a gymnastic aerial display that anyone unable to keep the pace has been left scratching their heads. On Tour right now, Medina and Italo Ferreira are in a league of their own when it comes to busting big airs during heats.
There's others who come close, such as John John Florence, Griffin Colapinto, Yago Dora or even injury replacement Reef Heazlewood, but no one goes as big, as often, and with such consistency as Italo and Gabriel.
Unfortantely for everyone else, Medina is one of the best barrel riders on the planet, and Ferreira isn't all that far behind.
Moore Retains A Healthy Lead, But A New Generation Is Coming
Moore still has a healthy lead atop the rankings after two events in Australia, and going into the second half of the Australian leg in Western Australia where she's one of the clear favorites.
Her surfing right now is the most powerful on the Women's Tour, and she's also recently launched the biggest air ever seen in a Women's Championship Tour heat.
But it was 19-year-old Caroline Marks who won the event, and she's a goofy-footer with an especially strong backhand, going into WA where the two contest venues are a (mostly) big right-hander, and then a high-performance left.
And second-place went to Tatiana Weston-Webb, who seems to have found a new confidence, and was surfing faster than just about anyone else. She genuinely believes she can win, and that's half the battle.
Marks and Weston-Webb are number two and three on the rankings now, respectively, and will be looking to improve in WA.
Cibilic Keeps His Run Going
When Morgan Cibilic went all the way to the Semifinals in Newcastle, eliminating John John Florence along the way, some wondered if he just got lucky. Well, after his performance in Narrabeen, the answer is a resounding no.
He made it to the Quarterfinals, eliminating Florence a second time. He cracked the best turns of the event, made a crazy under-the-lip takeoff barrel and didn't let the pressure get to him -- no easy feat for a Rookie many people hadn't even heard of before he qualified for the Tour.
It's worth noting that it was Medina who stopped him in both events.
Wright Dealing With Injury
Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright has provided some more details on a fractured ankle she's been dealing with. She also made note of the fact going left is something she'd been specifically targeting with her coach, Glenn Hall.
This is interesting as Narrabeen is mostly a left, and while Margaret River is mostly a right, the final stop of the Australian leg, at Rottnest Island, is another left on a Tour mostly stacked by rights.
"I was training in Avoca with Glenn, practicing going left because we had a really good block of work to do, like six weeks, and we were really stoked, I was just out of quarantine and had got to a good level, recovered from Hawaii really well and quarantine," Wright told he WSL.
"Surfing ... [I just] crunched it, my toes went to my knee and yeah, bruised the bone so bad that it fractured and a couple of other things, and yeah, I've just been managing it since," Wright said, noting she'd also been dealing with an illness. She's one of the fiercest competitors on Tour, so any details on her preparation going into the events are always of interest for fans and fellow competitors alike.
Heazlewood's Crazy Make Rate
Reef Heazlewood is Australia's answer to the Brazilian Storm of talented aerialists who have changed the face of competitive surfing. There are other Australian's who are amazing -- Julian Wilson is one of the most progressive surfers ever -- but when surfing at Narrabeen as an injury replacement, Heazlewood had an especially high make rate, and boosted some huge straight airs that people took note of during an event when Medina was doing some of the best airs of his career.
Off To West Oz
As mentioned, the Tour will now head to Western Australia for two events in very different conditions. Main Break at Margaret RIver is a big, open-water wave. Most of the scoring rides are bagged on the right, which is steeper, but it's technically a peak.
Stickland Bay at Rottnest Island has been described as a mini version of Main Break, except it's the left which is longer, steeper, and which we can only assume, will provide most of the high-scoring rides. Just imagine what the goofy-foot combo of Ferreira and Medina are going to do to it.