- WSL / Pat Nolan

Surfing is more than the act of riding a wave. It's a lot more. As they say, surfing saves. And over the last couple years the world a lot of us have turned to wave-riding and the ocean for solace. When it comes to competitive surfing, the performances of some of the world's best surfers uplifted, inspired and gave us all reason to believe in the greater good of surfing. Here our top five positive vibe moments:

Morgan Sends Newcastle Into Raptures

The fact that the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona even existed was a feel-good moment itself.Engineered at the last minute, in a global pandemic, with Australia in lockdown, to run a CT was a miraculous achievement.

However, when local hope and CT rookie Morgan Cibilic kept winning heats, starting with a win over John John Florence, the local crowd went into delirium.

Despite a bruised foot, the affable naturalfooter kept dishing out upsets, until a rampaging Gabriel Medina stopped him in the Semifinals. By that stage, "Morgs" had stamped himself as a serious CT contender and sent the wider Newcastle population into dreamland.

CT Rookie Morgan Cibilic Keeps His Dream Run Alive With Another Big Heat
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Morgan Cibilic is through to the quarterfinals with his confidence at an all-time high.

Emotion in The Ocean at Margaret River

It was an emotion-filled Finals day at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona as Brazilians Tatiana Weston-Webb and Filipe Toledo swept the podium.

From the heart shown in the water to the love and compassion of the local surf community back on the beach, there was a lot to be proud of.

Weston-Webb paid tribute to Bronte Macaulay and her family, who had lost a brother and son that week.

"I came up against Bronte earlier today and seeing her show up for her heat was so brave," Weston-Webb said.

"They are an amazing family with so much love and are such a big part of surfing here in the West and my condolences are with them."

Toledo too sent his wishes to the Macaulays, then dedicated the win to his son. "This one is for my son Koa, it's his birthday today and he asked me to win the trophy," Toledo explained. "I promised him I would and I could not break the promise, so this one's for you son, I love you."

Post Show: Brazil Sweeps Margaret River, WSL Leaderboard Gets A Shake-Up
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From Toledo and Weston-Webb's big wins to Final 5 predictions, the WSL Desk Crew breaks down all the action from Main Break.

A Tribute To The Captain

The Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe turned into an Adriano de Souza Appreciation Gala as the worlds' best surfers showed their respect for the 2015 World Champion.

The Brazilian, known as The Captain for his role in mentoring the Brazilian surfers on Tour, had announced that 2021 would be his last year on the circuit and his peers weren't about to let it go unrecognized.

Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, Yago Dora, Miguel Pupo, to name just a few athletes, competed in the early rounds wearing the number 13 and ‘De Souza' name on their jerseys.

It was a worthy tribute to a surfer whose contribution to the sport has, at times, been undervalued.

LEMOORE, CA, UNITED STATES - JUNE 19: Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil and 2015 WSL Champion Adriano De Souza of Brazil after surfing in Heat 6 of the Qualifying Round of the Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe on JUNE 19, 2021 in Lemoore, CA, Gabriel Medina - WSL / Pat Nolan

Waves and Winners at the WSL Finals

The unknown is always a big leap, and the inaugural Rip Curl WSL Finals had potentially a few pitfalls. The first concern was alleviated with a forecast which delivered all-time, six-to-eight-foot bombs that poured through the Lower Trestles lineup with absolutely stellar, glassy, blue-bird conditions from start-to-finish.

Any thoughts of a World Title being delivered in sub-standard conditions were extinguished immediately. The second area of concern was that the surfers who had dominated throughout the year, due to a single off day, or even heat, could be rubbed out.

Yet by the end of a historic day of surfing, Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina were crowned the 2021 WSL World Champions to conclude dominant seasons for both of the No. 1 ranked surfers.

SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA, USA - SEPTEMBER 14: Now Three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil along with now Five-time WSL Champion after winning the Title Match of the Rip Curl WSL Finals on September 14, 2021 at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Califo Gabriel Medina - WSL / Tony Heff

Pete Mel's Wave Of A Lifetime

In terms of the most deserving accolade of 2021 you can't go past Peter Mel's Red Bull Big Wave Award for Ride Of The Year. Mel, a Big Wave World Champion and former WSL Commissioner, had dedicated his life to surfing Mavericks.

The wave was not only the culmination of his life's work, but had plenty of emotional heft as well. "It's been a long road there and this wave that came to me was a gift. This is dedicated to my family. My parents started their surfshop the same year I was born so surfing has been a part of my life since the very beginning. My mother recently passed away and I dedicate this award to her. She gave me my life, and this is for her."

2021 Men's Ride Of The Year Nominee: Peter Mel At Mavericks
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2021 Men's Ride Of The Year Peter Mel at Mavericks on January 8, 2021. Video from Curt Myers.
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