That. Was. Epic.
Let's start with a confession. Prognosticators, like yours truly, used a lot of oxygen debating the most likely winners of this year's Quiksilver Pro. I won't lie...Owen Wright never entered that conversation. In my defense, however, two weeks before the event we weren't sure if Wright's physicians would clear him to surf.
Being wrong never felt better.
Now, for the second-straight year, the Quiksilver Pro reminds us to expect the unexpected. Surfing is far from unpredictable. Still, that's not going to stop us from trying to learn something from this past week, and apply the lessons. So behold five things worth taking note of after the Quiksilver Pro.
1.) The Champs are in it to win.
There are six World Champions on this year's CT roster, and every single one of them is in form. Four of the six made it to the Quarterfinals. Two to the Semis. But all of them were out before the Final. Yet by that time the point had been made. These guys all mean business.
2.) These rookies are the real deal.
Granted, three of seven rookies were eliminated in Round Two, but even they made some noise. Ethan Ewing's first ride of the season was a 9.10, and he certainly turned heads before becoming undone by Stu Kennedy. Ezekiel Lau bagged a 10.00 during his Round Three match, but Jordy Smith pulled some last-minute heroics to get past him. Connor O'Leary represented the rookies best, taking out Julian Wilson on his way to the Quarterfinals, as well as an impressive Round Three win over Wright and Smith. Five of the seven rookies re-qualified last year. This year looks just as promising.
3.) Australia's surfing fans are the best.
This isn't even close. Pro surfing's DNA can be found all over the Gold Coast. As Glenn "Micro" Hall noted earlier this week, when you walk the streets of Coolangatta you can hear the webcast blaring through back alleys and out the front of sidewalk cafes. And not even torrential rains will stop them from coming out in droves. Plus, where else in the world will you find a dozen lads dressing up in matching Strider Wasilewski outfits, with WSL mics and all.
4.) John John Florence has stepped up his game.
Florence didn't surf any perfect heats at Snapper, yet he kept advancing anyway. The difference between this year is Florence didn't flinch when the chips were down. He stuck with his plan, waited patiently and let the opportunities come to him. In Round Three, down with under two minutes to go, he let Mikey Wright make the unforced error, letting a winning wave pass. John made him pay.
5.) Fear the goofyfooters.
The right-foot-forward crew is looking stronger than ever this year, and Snapper was just the first sign. Both Finalists, three of four Semifinalists, and five of eight Quarterfinalists were all goofyfooters. Not bad considering they're only nine strong on the men's Championship Tour. Nevertheless, thanks to Owen's return and two new rookies, that's the largest number of goofy variety in years.