Of the up-and-coming generation of Championship Tour stars, few are as versatile as Griffin Colapinto.
At 22-years-old, not only is Griff the first Californian to win a Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, he's also one of the most progressive surfers on Tour. We all remember the 10-point barrel as a rookie on the Gold Coast, and his exploits above the lip are well documented, but it's his comfort in powerful surf and Joel Parkinson-influenced rail game that bagged him a third-place finish at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona.
So, to put it differently, of any of the new cohort of Tour stars in their early twenties, who else has such a realistic chance of competing for a World Title against a field of Brazilian powerhouses who've taken their air games and barrel riding to a whole different level?
But Margs wasn't all this year, as Colapinto racked up another third-place finish during the recent Australian leg at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, and is now riding that momentum into the Surf Ranch, which perhaps more than any other venue on the schedule, is perfect to showcase his big bag of tricks.
Colapinto has one of the best connections with the human-made perfection of the Surf Ranch, and with only 3,140 points between his current ranking of No. 8 in the world and the current world No. 5, Morgan Cibilic -- the WSL Final 5 is well within striking distance.
World No. 1 and No. 2 Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira are way out in front, but there's also only 1,215 points between Cibilic and world No. 3 Jordy Smith, who is out of the event with a knee injury.
Put it this way: Unless you're Medina or Ferreira, your spot in the WSL Final 5 -- the athletes who will compete for a World Title at the Rip Curl WSL Finals -- is far from locked in.
The last time Colapinto surfed an event at the Ranch was in 2019 at the Freshwater Pro. He came in third, dropping three excellent-range scores on his way to Finals Day.
The Surf Ranch plays into so many of Colapinto's strengths regardless of who else is in the field, but with Smith out, as well as several other CT surfers such as Julian Wilson, it's wide open for him to do some serious damage.
The hardest thing about surfing the Ranch is dealing with the pressure of only getting a few waves throughout the entire event, which is unlike any other on Tour.
But as Colapinto showed in Australia and earlier in Hawaii, if he feels anything like nerves, he doesn't show it; he's quintessential Californian cool, letting his surfing do the talking whether it's in or out of the jersey and enjoying every moment along the way.
Of course, the Championship Tour is stacked with phenomenal talent, but with barrel-riding ability well beyond his years and a full package of airs and big turns, Colapinto has a serious chance of bursting right into the WSL Final 5.
And looking past the pool -- with a perfect right-hand pointbreak in Mexico and a tube riding bonanza at Teahupo'o as the last remaining events for the regular season -- Colapinto is starring down a strong chance to be surfing for a World Title at his home break of Lowers come September.
And with the Title to be decided in the water, during a single day of surfing in front of what would be a hometown crowd, there hasn't been a 22-year-old Californian surfer on the men's Tour with such a strong shot at being the champ in a long time.