The 2022 Championship Tour is off to the races, and after a historic run at Pipeline last week, the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach is up next. It's been a long time since either the men or women surfed a CT out at the iconic North Shore break, which means anything can, and probably will happen.
To help demystify the fearsome West Bowl, the WSL's own Rosy Hodge and Kaipo Guerrero are breaking down what they think may go down at Sunset.
Making calls on prospective winners, contenders and underdogs, the dynamic duo also be share their post-event Final 5s and serve up a sprinkling of invaluable Fantasy advice. Lest we forget, Uncle Kaipo is the defending 2021 regular season WSL Fantasy champ.
Rosy's Pick To Win
After his early exit at Pipeline, I think Jack Robinson bounces back strong at Sunset. He won here in 2019 to pull off his miracle qualification run and I think it's a place he feels really comfortable. It's a powerful wave where he can get barreled and do big turns. It suits his surfing.
And to that point, I think John John Florence is also a heavy favorite. He gets so much attention for his surfing at Pipe, but he just won the digital Vans Triple Crown event at Sunset. He's also a past winner at Sunset back in 2011. And if you look at it, both are very good at Margaret River, which has some similarities to Sunset. It's a big, open playing field with a lot of water moving. Experience is definitely key here.
Kaipo's Pick To Win
I think you have to look at the last three women to win at Sunset as the favorites here: Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright and Tyler Wright. Carissa has to feel pretty good about where she's at right now. Moana [Jones Wong] may have beat her at Pipe, but as a wildcard, she probably won't factor into the World Title race at the end of the season, so that's a big plus for Riss. And she's been surfing with so much joy lately. Tyler won the event as a wildcard and her powerful forehand will be a big asset. And I think Steph's going to be pretty motivated after missing the last event. She doesn't have anymore throw away events, so every heat counts for her now.
Griffin Colapinto just watched his best friend Seth Moniz go on a great run at Pipe and I think both of them are going to feed off that. Griff always seems to get his best waves before the contests, if he can straighten that out, I think he's really dangerous. And Seth has plenty of Sunset experience to lean into, and his North Shore support crew is like no other.
A big question mark for me is Jordy Smith. He's got that foot injury, which could hobble him, but depending on how he feels, he's so good out at Sunset. He rips the place like it's a six-foot beachbreak. He has the ability to match power with power out there.
Sunset is one of those waves that doesn't necessarily favor goofy-footers, but with the right approach, there's a lot of opportunity to go hard off the bottom and into the lip. I think Tatiana Weston-Webb has that approach. We saw what she did at Margaret River. She could have that same kind of success out at Sunset.
Rosy's Sleeper Picks
Everybody likes to talk about how Kelly Slater has historically had his issues with Sunset, but if he shows up and makes some heats, who knows. The guy just proved that he's as relevant as ever. I'd love to see him keep the yellow jersey.
And then you have to look at somebody like Ezekiel Lau. He's won out there. He grew up surfing there. It's a wave that really suits his surfing. I could see him locking into the zone and doing some damage.
Kaipo's Sleeper Picks
Sunset is one of those waves where some local knowledge can go a long way, and I think that's why Bettylou Sakura Johnson could do well out there. She grew up on the North Shore and has spent enough time out there to understand the spot's different moods and dynamics. And she's surfed some heats out there in junior and amateur events. We saw what she did at Pipe, she could do the same at Sunset.
Men's Final 5 Post-Sunset Beach
1) John John Florence
2) Kelly Slater
3) Seth Moniz
4) Caio Ibelli
5) Kanoa Igarashi
Women's Final 5 Post-Sunset Beach
1) Carissa Moore
2) Tyler Wright
3) Lakey Peterson
4) Malia Manuel
5) Tatiana Weston-Webb