With swell looming in the forecast, the waiting period for the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona kicks off on May 2. The first of two Championship Tour stops in Western Australia this season, it certainly looks like there's plenty of surf on tap, and as we've seen year in and year out at Main Break and The Box, big seas means big performances by the world's best surfers.
The WSL Leaderboard has seen considerable movement as of late, and of course, all roads lead to the Rip Curl WSL Finals in California this September. The Final 5 at the end of the season will have a shot at the 2021 World Title in a one-day, winner-take-all blow-out day of ripping.
Starring into the crystal ball, the WSL's Rosy Hodge and Kaipo Guerrero look ahead to what the leaderboard could look like in a post-Margaret River world, and they've got some surprises:
Rosy's Picks For The Men's WSL Final 5 Post-Margaret River
It's pretty obvious who number one is, Gabe Medina. I think everybody knows that at this point. It's ridiculous. Gabe is looking like he could potentially run away with the Australian leg of the Tour, which he's never really done in the past. But he's different this year. I mean, he's always been a threat, but I just think he's really enjoying himself. He's happy. He just seems super comfortable at the moment. He's hanging with all the Brazilian boys, smiling a lot more. It's so incredible to see. He's had mixed results at Margaret River, and lost early to wildcards twice, but I just think this is a different Gabe Medina and we're going to see a different performance out of him this time.
I have to believe that John John climbs to number two after Margaret River. He's had some really disappointing results, obviously at the hands of rookie Morgan Cibilic, who's been on fire, but I think it's safe to say that that's not sitting well with John and he's going to want to bury any questions. He loves the west, it's where he's filmed a lot of his movie parts. It's a place that he feels at home. The climate, the water, the energy, he really taps into it. And he's put in some huge performances there in the past which have pretty much set the bar for how to surf Margs. And he's a no-brainer favorite if things move to The Box.
I'm putting Italo at number three after Margaret River. After the performances we've seen from him in the last few events and the amazing passion that he's showed, it's just crazy. I think he's so driven. And you can't forget about that eight-point ride he got on his first wave ever at The Box back in the 2019 event. First heat of the day, first wave of the day, first wave he ever rode, that thing looked so impossible. And he's been working on his big-wave game with a trip to Nazare and some Brazilian slab, so he's comfortable in heavy waves just as much as he is in the air, which is crazy to think about. The caliber of surfing amongst the top three at the moment is out of this world. It's going to be really hard for anyone to leapfrog past them. Italo's strong in the number three spot, I think.
4. Jordy Smith
This is a passion pick, but I really think that, given the forecast, my fellow South African Jordy Smith can really do well here. He wants to overtake the top five in the rankings at the moment, he's got some really solid results at the event, and his surfing on big, open-faced waves with a bit of lumber under his feet is really beautiful. And, again, if The Box goes, I think he has the ability to do quite well out there.
Griffin Colapinto doesn't actually have a great track record at Margaret River so far in his career, but I think that could change here. I think he's going to get a good result at this event. Why would I pick him given his history here? I think he looked really solid at Narrabeen and Margaret River is a place where the conditions suit his surfing. If it's at Main Break he has that big, strong forehand, and he's got a knack for The Box. He can really take advantage of those unpredictable sections when they present themselves. He's not going to hold back, especially on the Surgeon's Table on the inside. I think this is somewhere that he could reach his full potential. He's currently sitting eighth in the ratings, but only 4,000 points separate him from John John in third, so there's a lot of room for him to move up.
Kaipo's Picks For The Women's WSL Final 5 Post-Margaret River
You can't dispute what Carissa Moore is doing right now. She hasn't finished worse than third all year. She won at Newcastle and made the Semifinals in Narrabeen. That's given her a commanding leading going into Western Australia. She has a lot of momentum behind her right now. And she's proven in heavy water, which is what it looks like we're going to see based on the forecast. She's gotten really good in bigger waves, and after this last winter with her Triple Crown win and performances at spots like Haleiwa and Sunset, her confidence has to be extremely high. Plus, she's a proven winner at Margaret River. I think she has to be a favorite in bigger, more powerful waves. I see her leaving Margaret River the same way she came into it -- first on the WSL Leaderboard.
Caroline Marks has to be feeling really good right now. That win in Narrabeen was big. And while she's not super experienced in Western Australia, she has a really strong backhand that will serve her very well at Main Break. The way she'll be able to draw off the bottom and into big, powerful top turns, that is when her surfing seems to be at her best. She also has some momentum behind her now. She's going to have to replicate that mindset and that performance she just had, but I see more success on the horizon for her as she looks to solidify her position in the Final Five.
3. Tyler Wright
I'm expecting Tyler Wright to bounce back in a big way after a couple disappointing results in New South Wales. She has so much talent and competitive fire, that I think the chances of her getting another bad result are very unlikely. I'm expecting more from Tyler in W.A. And she's won there in the past too, so she knows what it takes to win in that kind of open-ocean environment, which is different than where the Tour just was. I think she'll adapt and thrive at Margs.
With a lot of experience in Hawaiian waters throughout her life, we know Tatiana Weston-Webb charges. She made the Semis at Pipe, so she's clearly not afraid. And after that runner-up finish in Narrabeen she has to be feeling like she's on a bit of a roll. She's such a diehard competitor. What I like about her is that she shows up ready to surf and clearly wants to beat her competitors. She doesn't care about peer approval or being the popular girl on Tour, and that's really what it takes to win. She's got that kind of fire.
And coming at number five, another competitive animal, the Sea Tiger, Courtney Conlogue. She's proven in bigger, powerful surf. She thrives when it's just bombing and will be one of the competitors that is really excited to get out there amongst it and prove herself. She's already got a great track record in heavy water. She can match the power with power.