The third event of the 2016 World Surf League season is in the books and a picture is starting to materialize for what a new competitive surfing realm looks like.
Hawaiian-born Sebastian Zietz continued his strong start to a fortunate situation this year and took out Julian Wilson for his first-ever World Tour victory. And the back-and-forth between Courtney Conlogue and Tyler Wright swung back into the favor of Wright a little bit with her win over Conlogue on the women’s side.
1. Taj Burrow says goodbye
The pride of Western Australia decided to announce his retirement right on his home turf. Taj Burrow is responsible for some of the most thought-altering surf parts when airs were just beginning to become common occurrences. 11 World Tour victories, two runner-up finishes to the world title and 15 top-10 finishes are just a few of the accolades he achieved. He’ll be missed on tour, playing new dad, but hopefully the 37-year-old has it in him for a few more legendary video parts.
2. Sharks made an appearance
Before the start of the event Kanoa Igarashi, Caio Ibelli and a few other World Tour surfers were having a free surf when they encountered a rather large shark at the main break.
3. The Tyler Wright/Courtney Conlogue saga
The women’s side of the World Tour has been a total tug-of-war between Courtney Conlogue and Tyler Wright. They met in the final of the first event at the Roxy Pro, Conlogue rang her first Bell next and now Wright struck back with a dominant victory in this final against Conlogue. With reigning world champ Carissa Moore having three straight semi-final finishes, these two women know they must semis or better this year to have a shot at either of them attaining their first world title.
4. Why no Box?
The other side of Margaret River has put on quite a show the last couple of years for the WSL. So why no Box this year?
5. Wildcards are having their time
Injury wildcards like Sebastian Zietz, Stu Kennedy and now Leo Fioravanti have been taking down big names this year. Fioravanti is merely the latest in this trend that doesn’t quite appear to be slowing down with major injuries to Owen Wright, Filipe Toledo, Jack Freestone and Bede Durbidge. Plus, with Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow essentially calling it quits, wildcards are getting rare opportunities and making the very most of them in 2016.
6. The changing of the guard
Kelly Slater is old. Mick Fanning is sorta, kinda retired. Taj Burrow is doing one more contest then is done. The surfers we’ve been watching compete for world titles year-in, year-out for the last decade are at the end of their competitive careers.
Oddly enough, I guess that means that it’s Matt Wilkinson’s time to shine? Wilko finished with an equal ninth, his worst showing so far this year, but is still miles ahead of number two Sebass. Take a look at that top 10 above and I dare you to say anyone saw that coming this year.
7. Seabass gets his first CT win
This victory is a much deserved one for a hard-working, fun-loving person. He has a Triple Crown title to his name yet had struggled for years to stay on the World Tour, having never been past the quarterfinals until this event. After failing to re-qualify last year, Seabass was granted a golden opportunity with an injury wildcard. Having essentially already matched his point total from last year, he now sits second in the world.
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