Expectation and hype are key ingredients in the surf world, which is always on the lookout for the next Big Thing, but lately the bar has been pushed to such a level that it's difficult to stand out from the crowd -- it takes a truly phenomenal talent to really grab your attention.
Sierra Kerr is one of those surfers. At only fourteen years old, she's already providing a window into what the future of the Championship Tour holds, throwing airs and threading tubes that make elite athletes twice her age jealous.
With this repertoire already documented in various web edits, often alongside her father Josh Kerr -- a CT legend and aerial pioneer -- there was guaranteed to be a lot of eyes on her World Surf League debut at Cabarita this week for the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro and Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro Junior.
Kerr didn't disappoint. In her first ever Qualifying Series event, she made it all the way to the Quarterfinals. The future certainly looks bright for Kerr -- if she's surfing like this at 14, just imagine what she'll do on the Championship Tour one day.
The QS Comes Back With A Bang Down Under, Challenger Series Roster Locked
But it was Molly Picklum and Callum Robson who won the event at Cabarita, held in fun two-to-three foot waves at one of the best beach breaks on the Tweed Coast, located on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.
Picklum is another example of a surfer who will almost undoubtedly be doing some damage on the Championship Tour very soon, and who has taken her airs to another level.
Picklum, Kerr and a host of others represent a new generation who are putting a premium on progression while also honing in on the fundamentals of rail surfing, in such a way that the level on the Championship Tour is just going to keep getting better and better.
"I'm over the moon," Picklum said. "I had a bit of a rusty start to the heat but was able to refocus on the little fine details then reset and go at it. When I struggled a little bit at the start I focussed on not getting down on myself because it's surfing and anything can happen.
"Once I felt like I had reset I still had 15 minutes left which was plenty of time to get my feet in the wax and find a rhythm. Now it's time for the Challenger Series, I just want to hold onto this confidence and form for the second half of the year," she said.
What's more, the women's final saw two of the best young talents in Australia fighting for the win, with Zahli Kelly taking it all the way to the final buzzer. This is sure to be a preview of a continuing rivalry between these two talents.
For Robson, from Evans Head, this was a breakthrough win which secures his place on the upcoming Challenger Series. He came into the event at 19 on the regional rankings, needing a very good placing to get onto the CS.
He didn't let the pressure get to him all event, and has now put himself in a strong position to vie for a spot on the Championship Tour.
"This has been such an incredible week with so many different emotions," Robson said.
"From getting here and being so focused on the Challenger Series to then realising I was locked in and refocusing on looking to win, I've been so happy with my performance all round here at Cabarita."
Florence Is Back In The Water, Team USA Looking Strong
It was only a few weeks ago that it appeared the USA Men's Olympic Team was in a bit of a pickle, with John John Florence and Kolohe Andino both recovering from surgeries. These injuries had sidelined them from the Championship Tour and there was a real question mark over whether or not we'd see them representing their country in Tokyo next month.
This week however, they both made a return to the water. Florence posted an update on his Instagram account, letting his follows know he was back in the water, surfing with a knee brace, while Andino took part in the Team USA expression session at Lower Trestles.
While surfing again and competing at the highest level in sport at two very different things, this is a positive sign for Team USA just weeks out from the Opening Ceremony.