With only a few events remaining before the Rip Curl WSL Finals, the fight for the Final 5 is in full force. It's now or never for the world's best surfers to solidify their spot for the eventual Title showdown at Lower Trestles. That means that the pressure is on at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro. Taking place June 17-20, 2021, the only freshwater event of the Championship Tour is almost at hand and the stakes couldn't be higher. From the esteemed WSL Photo Department, here's a sneak peek at what to expect in California's scorching Central Valley:
The science and engineering behind the Surf Ranch creates a perfect wave every four minutes. Located in Lemoore, California, it's basin measures a total 700 yards and each wave identical to the last. Although the competition venue for the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro offers clean consistent waves, there are a limited number of opportunities for Championship Tour surfers to prove themselves. With four waves give in the opening round of competition, little mistakes can be made and only those who can handle the pressure will rise to the occasion.
"Defining characteristics of surf ranch: the first one pops in my head is the wind," said Kelly Slater in an interview with the WSL. "We built it only as a right at first. And so the wind is offshore on the right and onshore on the left. So it kind of turns the right into the barrel and the left into a turning wave."
The man-made wave was first ridden by Slater in 2015 and just three years later was an added stop on the Championship Tour. Since 2018, this perfect wave has allowed the world's best surfers to push themselves without any variables. The progression at the Ranch is outmatched each year and who knows what the 2021 Jeep Surf Ranch Pro will bring to the table.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the talent of the surfer. The way a surfer flows, puts together a wave, and finishes are some of the factors that may make or break a result at the Surf Ranch. World Title contenders like Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo, Carissa Moore and Tatiana Weston-Webb are the some of the ones to keep an eye out for during the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro.
In order to win at the Surf Ranch, you have to be mentally and physically fit. Each surfer is given the same number of waves to prove their surfing, the true test being the one who can rise to the occasion and handle the pressure. This is where the underdogs come into play.
This year we will watch the 2021 rookies Morgan Cibilic, Matthew McGillivray, and Isabella Nichols take on the pool for the first time in a jersey. In addition, surfers such as Ryan Callinan have something to prove after the Australian leg and will most definitely be bringing their A-Game to the basin.
The Progressive Surfing
Without having to worry about wave selection, the world's best surfers are able to focus their energy the way they surf the wave, pushing the progression of surfing to new heights. As seen at the 2019 Freshwater Pro, Lakey Peterson went above the lip, pulling off an air reverse and winning the event. That same year Filipe Toledo landed three aerial maneuvers on one wave, something new to competition and a defining moment in the event.