There is now less than one week until the beginning of the waiting period for the Rip Curl WSL Finals, which means we could be less than a week away from crowning the first World Champions decided by a one-day winner-takes-all event.
WSL Final Five finalists are busily preparing boards, surfing their brains out at Lower Trestles and keeping an eye on the forecast to get a sense of when the event might run -- and the good news is there's a lot to look forward to towards the beginning of the window.
Swell, Favorable Conditions Forecast
Thanks to its exposure to south swells and ideal bathymetry, Lower Trestles is one of the more predictable locations around the world when it comes to surf forecasting, and with the Rip Curl WSL Finals right around the corner, things are shaping up very nicely for the opening days of the waiting period, which kicks off on September 9.
For starters, next week the esteemed WSL Final 5 will have plenty of waves to warm-up in as a shift in weather patterns in the South Pacific have ignited a string of swell-producing swell.
"The waves will pick up on the 11th-12th thanks to a low near New Zealand right now," reports Surfline's Director of Forecasting Kevin Wallis in his most recent outlook. "This storm isn't a monster, either (peak seas modeled at 25-30'), but it does take a pretty good track with strong high-pressure support on its western flank that helps widen the fetch."
"Another storm that's expected to track through the central South Pacific over the coming weekend potentially sends a larger SSW swell for the 13th-15th," continues Wallis. "Similar to its predecessor, this storm could have good high-pressure support on its western flank. It also looks like a stronger storm that's closer to Southern California. These are all positives. Current model guidance indicates overhead surf at Lowers with a decent chance of more consistency.
"Interestingly, this pattern jives fairly well with the climatological outlook we provided the WSL with over a month ago," adds Wallis. "That very-long-range outlook offered one key takeaway: there's a strong chance of above-average surf at Lower Trestles during the September 9th-17th window."
Check out the full forecast here.
Boards Are Being Dialed In
This week we spoke with Peter Mel, professional big-wave surfer and long-time WSL commentator. On the day of the Finals, Mel will be providing real-time insight through the broadcast into what surfers are riding, and why. He's also been checking in with the surfers and shapers to see how they are approaching the Rip Curl WSL Finals, from an equipment perspective.
There are ten surfers and six shapers in the field, with five of the ten finalists riding Sharp Eyes. But the single most interesting board story to follow is whether or not seven-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore will ride her magic DHD -- lovingly referred to as the "Cash Cow" -- a board that has now won her four Championship Tour events over the past three years. The most-recent, the last event of this year's regular season, the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver.
A brand-new format means new jersey colors for the Finals, which have been unveiled this week. The dedicated jersey color system is intended to give fans a new way to engage with the action and a visual indicator to better understand the title-crowning format.
At the upcoming Rip Curl WSL Finals, fans will see the following jersey designations:
- Orange: World No. 5 Johanne Defay and Morgan Cibilic.
- Green: World No. 4 Stephanie Gilmore and Conner Coffin.
- Pink: World No. 3 Sally Fitzgibbons and Filipe Toledo.
- Blue: World No. 2 Tatiana Weston-Webb and Italo Ferreira.
- Yellow: World No. 1 Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina.
A full breakdown of the jersey system is available here.
Full Circle For California's Conner Coffin
It's a case of full circle for the WSL Final Five's Conner Coffin, who posted a wave from the NSSA Open Boys final at Lowers from way back in 2005 this week.
"It's crazy to think that this is where my surf career really started and now it's going full circle for a chance at a world title! It's been a good ride!" Coffin said.
"This final was stacked and in typical lowers fashion, it went flat! In the last couple of minutes I found myself out the back with this perfect left coming right to me. I pretty much only surfed rincon so even I was shocked when I tagged a few decent turns."
Another big win at Lower Trestles would see Coffin crowned World Champion.