The last stop of the extended Australian leg of the 2021 Championship Tour has arrived with the much-anticipated Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona. With only a week's time between the last stop at Margaret River's Main Break and this next event at Rottnest Island's Strickland Bay, the injury replacement surfers and wildcards have been named.
John John Florence will miss the event due to the knee injury he sustained during the Round of 16 at Margaret River. He will be replaced in the draw by Stu Kennedy, who is next on the CT replacement list. A perennial giant slayer throughout his distinguished career, Kennedy will face a surging giant Jordy Smith and Aussie leadfoot Wade Carmichael when the event kicks off.
Adrian Buchan will also be out due to a back injury. He will be replaced in the draw by Western Australian legend and longtime CT stalwart Taj Burrow. In his first heat, Burrow will enjoy a reunion of sorts with Brazilian veteran Adriano de Souza, who's enjoying his last lap around the world before retiring at season's end, and current World No. 2 Italo Ferreira.
Additionally, Mikey Wright will continue to surf in place of an injured Kolohe Andino, Liam O'Brien will take the place of an injured Kelly Slater, and Amuro Tsuzuki will surf again for an injured Lakey Peterson.
Both Andino and Slater have missed the entirety of the Australian leg with their respective injury issues. Wright hasn't finished better than 17th all season long and has bowed out in the Elimination Round twice. This will be O'Brien's first crack at a CT event. His best result this year is a third in the Qualifying Series' Port Stephens Pro presented by Mad Mex.
As wildcards go, Jacob Willcox has received the sponsor wildcard via Rip Curl. Wilcox also got a start at Margaret River, where he put together an impressive win in the Seeding Round against heavies Ferreira and Jack Robinson. He bowed out in the Round of 32 against Kanoa Igarashi in a heat decided by less than half a point.
Emerging out of the local trials event is Kael Walsh and Mia McCarthy. Walsh has surfed in one other CT in his career, back in 2018 at the Uluwatu CT/ Margaret River Pro where he managed to win his Elimination Round heat handily over Matt Wilkinson. Walsh also surfed in the 2019 Red Bull Airborne Gold Coast.
Meanwhile, McCarthy, a West Oz native, has also previsously surfed at a CT-level, nabbing the wildcard into the 2019 Margaret River Pro and also winning the Mandurah Pro. She's been known to charge The Box and is not afraid to push over the ledge when it's pulsing -- a talent that will serve her well at Rottnest.
The waiting period for the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona starts on May 16. Keep it locked here for further updates and news.