As the competitive season hits its stride and things hot up in both the CT and QS ranks, we highlight five surfers’ whose heats you won’t want to miss this year.
Considering the QS circuit has not yet hosted any of its top ranked events, it is undeniably a little bit too early to be throwing out predictions for the rookie class of 2018. However this list has been boldly cobbled together from a mixture of past comp performances, free surfing displays and, of course the gut instincts of a pundit wedged firmly into his armchair. Whilst the odds are long on all of the selections, we’d be excited to see any of these burst their way onto the big stage in 2018 for the entertainment each would undoubtedly bring:
Jack is one of those surfers who everyone knows would do far better on the CT than he does on the QS. The 19 year old Aussie’s proficiency in big, perfect surf is well documented, with many already regarding him as the third best in the world out at Teahupoo, behind JJF and Slater. He also won the Pipe trials in 2015, and a QS at Sunset at the start of this year, so really the only question that remains is if he can adapt his explosive approach, finely tuned along his native coastline in WA, to suit the small and scrappy conditions that regularly face any QS grinder.
See our favourite free surf edit of Jack here.
Yago is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining surfers in the world in fun sized surf, and as a result is currently flourishing on the QS, sitting in third on the rankings, with a big win in Australia already under his belt. Whilst Yago’s surfing is super well-rounded, he’s not quite consistent enough to make him a World Tour shoe-in. However his progression has been exponential over the last few years, seeing him rising up through the ranks with each subsequent season and so 2017 could well be his year.
After bursting onto tour to much fanfare last year, the young Aussie was one of three rookies who found themselves in the relegation zone as December rolled around, although from watching him surf it’s very tricky to work out why. Callinan’s solid on rail, has a full bag of tricks and a butter smooth style to boot. Although he hasn’t properly got his campaign underway yet this year (as he’s only competing in the highest ranked QS) he’s got his sights firmly set on re-qualifying and we’d be pretty surprised if he didn’t.
See our favourite free surf edit of Ryan here.
Considering the fact Soli has almost qualified for the CT in both 2015 and 2016, he flies relatively under the radar. So much so, in fact, that when he took out at the Pipe Pro at the start of this year it was the first time many people had heard of him. Soli has since backed up that win up with a 3rd and a 9th (in dramatically different conditions to Pipe) in Martinique and Barbados, proving beyond doubt that he possess the all round ability needed to qualify.
See our favourite free surf edit of Soli here.
Hiroto Ohara is on a mission to become the first Japanese surfer ever to qualify for the world tour, and right now his chances are looking better than ever. After a victory at the US open in 2015 (followed by the proclamation he would be buying some cars with his prize money) we saw him burst onto the world stage, we’ve had our eye on him, and he’s been quietly stacking up some impressive results. His 2017 season is off to a solid start, with three final round finishes, including a victory in Aus, and with plenty more events that suit Hiroto’s surfing on the way, make sure you tune in and see if he can make history this year.
See our favourite free surf edit of Hiroto here.
Cover photo: Billabong