Shifting gears from the warm-water perfection of Mexico to the cut-throat lineup at Lower Trestles, the race for the 2021 World Title is now truly on. The regular Championship Tour season is in the rearview mirror, we're in the post-season now, baby!
And what better way to build the hype and pressure than a bombing south swell at Lowers all week? After elevating Teahupoo to epic proportions, that same pulse has traveled from Tahiti, across the Pacific, and slammed right into the San Clemente swell window.
Topping out at six- to eight-foot, the opportunity to get in some serious training time at the iconic cobblestone points has drawn a number of the elite WSL Final 5, and with the start of the waiting period for the Rip Curl WSL Finals a mere three weeks away, things are getting very real.
As this post goes live, Conner Coffin and Mick Fanning were just paddling, while Gabriel Medina was expected to hit the water a little later in the morning. More on that to come, until then, here's what we know:
Carissa Moore Keeps It Local In San Clemente
Carissa Moore has had a relationship with Lower Trestles since she started winning national titles there as a pint-sized grom and considers the wave to be one of her favorites.
Over the last week, she's been staying with the family of rising star Bella Kenworthy. One of five kids, they're a full on surf-stoked crew and make Moore feel right at home every time she's in town. The good vibes will certainly go a long way in settling her nerves as Finals day looms closer.
Gabe Medina Makes A Statement
What do Medina and Kelly Slater have in common besides multiple World Titles? Both surfers are masters of staying off the radar until game time ... and when they do show their cards a little, everyone takes note. It's part of the psychology of being a World Champ perhaps.
Medina just dropped a quick new edit that starts off with the words, "2x World Surfing Champion." The first few waves feature a series of forehand hammers, spins and airs, which may be a bit of a foreshadowing of what he expects to unleash on the Lowers left. Whatever it means, he's looking happy, confident and extremely dangerous.
Fear Johanne Defay's Layback
Every surfer in the WSL Final 5 will bring their own brand of high-performance shredding to Lowers. For some, that means taking to the air, for others it means fierce combos, for Johanne Defay, her most potent weapon may be her frontside layback power gouge. It's a point of differentiation in her surfing and should be well rewarded by the judges. Here's a sneak peek of the turn that could lead her to her first World Title.
One Wave From Filipe Toledo
Number three seed Filipe Toledo is in a unique spot going into the Finals. He's the last CT surfer to win at Lowers (back in 2017) and calls the wave home when he's not on the road. He'll have to surf two heats if he's to make it to the Title Match against Medina, which seems like just the right amount of surfing for him to warm up and really click into gear. Look no further than how he links all the sections of this one wave down in Mexico together to see what he's capable of on a long, open Lowers wall ... and he seems to have heaps more gas in the tank.
Italo Ferreira's Road To Olympic Gold
From the airport to the podium, go behind the scenes in Japan with Italo Ferreira on his journey to winning surfing's first Olympic gold medal in this new edit.
Sensei Mick Fanning Drops Some Knowledge
Over the course of his career, Fanning has spent a fair bit of time around San Clemente. Sharing countless sessions with his good friend Taylor Knox at Lowers and his sponsor, Rip Curl is also headquartered in town. And now that he's retired from the Tour and has a young family -- and is even golfing ("I still can't believe you're actually a golfer," laughs Ace Buchan) -- he's been spending some more time in California.
As noted above, he's surfing with Coffin right now. And with three Rip Curl surfers in the WSL Final 5 draw -- Coffin, Medina and Morgan Cibilic -- expect him to impart some serious veteran, World Title-winning knowledge to the crew.