The Australian leg of the 2021 Championship Tour was always going to reveal who had put in the work during the off-season. For the now-5x World Champion Carissa Moore, she only needed a few heats to announce how she planned to continue to push the limits of progression.
In her quarter-final clash against France's Johanne Defay, the Hawaiian dropped a 9.90 landing one of the biggest airs of her career and leaving herself and the crowd in rapture. The huge air reverse was so big in fact, that Moore could barely believe it herself.
"You have to keep reinventing yourself when you're amongst a field that I am with the girls constantly pushing the boundaries," said Moore after the heat.
"Having a year off like we did last year I think everyone went back to the drawing board and wanted to see how they could get better. I was just really happy to get it in [the air] in a 30-minute time window."
On a picture-perfect afternoon in Newcastle, the near-perfect 9.90 ride would be the highest scoring wave seen at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup in the women's draw. The insane aerial stole the show and once again firmed Moore's reputation as one of the best surfers in the world.
While Moore may have overshadowed her opponent with a world-class air, Defay wasn't going down without a fight. The Frenchwoman was surfing lightning-fast on the zipping right-handers punctuating each turn with her signature style.
While Moore pulled away with a 7.43 and 9.90 for a combined total of 17.33, Defay was within striking distance with a 7.50 and 6.60 of her own to finish with a 14.10 heat total.
However, the momentum shift from that one air helped take Moore to the Final. In her semi-final against fellow US Olympic team member Caroline Marks, the Hawaiian dropped two excellent scores for a combined 17.44 heat total. Then, against Australian Isabella Nichols in the Final, she sealed her first event victory of the season with another excellent 9.50 ride.
Moore would leave Newcastle wearing the yellow jersey and her trademark smile. Johanne Defay and Moore would continue to battle throughout the season with Defay getting the upper hand on the Hawaiian at the Rip Curl Rottnest Search and Jeep Surf Ranch Pro setting up for an exciting race to the Finals at Trestles.
Moore would go on to win the first Olympic Gold Medal for the Team USA and seal her fifth World Title at Trestles to close out an unforgettable season of groundbreaking performances.