Kaipo and Rosy’s Final 5 Favourites
We’ve reached the end of the Championships Tour’s Australian leg and we have yet to have a repeat winner this season. With so much parity and some devasting injuries to top title contenders, the Final 5 has been challenging constantly. Heading into the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona, WSL commentators Rosy Hodge and Kaipo Guerrero predict what the leaderboard will look like after the event. Find out who they think will be competing for the World Tour at the first-ever Rip Curl WSL Finals.
Read the Predictions
Overhead surf and offshore winds. If the forecast holds, the opening day of the Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona is setting up to be one to remember. For the final leg of the historic, four-stop Australian leg of the Championship Tour, the race for the Rip Curl WSL Finals is reaching its halfway point and there are all kinds of intrigue on the WSL Leaderboard.
Front-runners Carissa Moore and Gabriel Medina continue to hold on to the yellow leader’s jersey, but their leads are shrinking, and thanks to a new wave on Tour, there are a lot of opportunities for their rivals to make some moves.
With the great unknown that is Rottnest on the horizon, the WSL’s Rosy Hodge and Kaipo Guerrero lean into their decades of experience and knowledge to break down what they believe will shake out on the leaderboard when the Australian leg comes to a close.
Ever since her win in Newcastle, Carissa Moore has been in the yellow leader’s jersey atop the WSL Leaderboard, but Tatiana Weston-Webb has closed the gap over the last two events. – WSL / CAIT MIERS
Rosy’s Picks For The The Women’s WSL Final 5 Post-Rottnest Island
Carissa Moore still has a lock on the number one spot, but the others are starting to chase her down. She hasn’t finished worse than third all year, which is incredible. Her consistency is remarkable. And I feel that she has a couple of advantages at Rottnest. First, she’s so good on her backhand in conditions like this. She’ll be able to lean into her comfort in Hawaiian waters. The speed and power of the waves at Rottnest seem to really suit her surfing. Also, she always brings in local talent to help coach her through events. If she can get some good information and advice about how to approach the lineups and what waves to put herself on, I think that could be a really important part of her game. Her consistency, talent and surf IQ are going to make her tough to beat at Rottnest even if she doesn’t have any experience here.
Tatiana Weston-Webb’s performances have been so money this year. She was strong in Hawaii and has had a great Australian leg. Her win at Margaret River was really a defining moment in her career, I think. And at Rottnest you’re going to need that commitment on the inside toilet bowl section, which we saw from her at Margs. And I think working with Ross Williams has really helped her overall game. She’s cleaned up some little errors here and there and is really in a good mental space. And with her it’s almost what she doesn’t say. You can just tell from watching her how badly she wants to win.
I feel like Steph Gilmore has hardly even gotten out of second gear at this point but is really starting to click into gear. I think she’s going to come out of Margaret River with a lot of confidence and a new spark in her surfing. And Rottnest is a place she may be more comfortable at than most. Any experience in this event is going to help. And I think because she’s been on Tour for so long she really needs to find the fun in her surfing to stay motivated. Hopefully we see some of that spark from her from here on out.
A fast, shallow left? That sounds right up Caroline Marks alley. The first few days of the waiting period look pretty good for swell, and if the lefts are going off, it will really suit Caroline’s approach. And we all know how devastating her backhand attack is when she’s going right. She’s dangerous whatever the conditions are. I think she digs deep here and really shines in the clean, powerful conditions.
I have the faith. Rip Curl Search events usually have insane waves, and in high-quality, powerful surf Johanne Defay really excels. I think growing up on the left-hander at St. Leu on Reunion Island really plays into her favor at Strickland Bay, which is a high-performance left, as I understand. And there’s also a right that requires a lot of commitment on the end section, which she’s really good at. I think Johanne’s going to kick it into high gear here and really assert herself.
Kaipo’s Picks For The Men’s WSL Final 5 Post-Rottnest Island
At this point Gabriel Medina is still the guy to beat. He had an unfortunate result in Margaret River, his worst showing of the season, but we all know he’s going to bounce back. When it comes to the unknown of Rottnest, you have to look at his versatility. He’s won in heavy reef breaks like Pipe and Tahiti, he’s won in quality beachbreaks like France and Portugal. He’s such a complete surfer, and what we’ve seen from him all season is consistency in every kind of conditions. He’ll bring that confidence into Rottnest, and he may have a little more fire in his belly after that result at Margs.
I love the developing rivalry between Italo Ferreira and Gabe Medina. They’ve been going blow for blow all season and it’s really pushing both of them to do their best surfing. Italo has the ability to manufacture scores out of nothing, and that’s going to serve him well whatever Rottnest throws at him. He can take a seemingly close-out and turn it into an 8-point ride really easy. He has that flare and energy in his surfing right now and that’s been translating into consistent results. He could have overtaken Medina for the yellow jersey if he’d won Margs, but he’s pretty comfortably in second on the WSL Leaderboard at this point and I really don’t see him falling off the pace right now.
Here comes Filipe Toledo. He’s coming into Rottnest with a ton of momentum and confidence. Coming off a win at Margaret River and a Semifinal result at Narrabeen, the Australian leg has been good to him. He’s surfing better than ever and has added a lot of power and torque to his turns this season, making him more dangerous on the open face. And he’s been cruising with the whole Brazilian crew and I think they’re all feeding off of the energy. Look, the top three male surfers in the world right now are Brazilians, collectively they’re all benefiting from this push. All of this has Filipe looking happy in and out of the water and excited about his surfing.
4. Jordy Smith
The big man has been coming through with that extra power. What’s different about Jordy Smith right now, I think, is that he’s been more honest with himself and his analysis of heats and understanding where he can improve. He’s more aware of the little mistakes he makes and is working hard on amending them. You saw it in some post heat interviews where he talked about the little things he could improve on. That mental part of the game is often overlooked but is so critical in a World Title campaign. What it shows me right now is that he’s in the game and is going to be hanging around all season long.
Kanoa Igarashi beat himself at Margaret River. I don’t want to take anything away from Matthew McGillivray, but Igarashi put himself in a hole right away in their heat. Then he had that shocker in the Quarterfinals at Narrabeen against Conner Coffin where he only got a 0.80 heat score. All that is so unlike him. He’s such a smart, disciplined surfer. I don’t think he’s going to be making any more mistakes. Despite those hiccups, he’s still managed to climb into seventh on the WSL Leaderboard, and I think looking forward, he’s going to shine. We could see some flashes of Bali 2019 in his surfing at Rottnest. He’s a performance surfer and Rottnest is a performance venue.