Fall can either be your favorite season, or your least favorite, depending on your perspective.
Surfers famously love the combo of warm waters with favorable winds grooming thumping swells. Hunter-gatherers, by necessity, would revel in the abundant rewards of nature's bounty. Lambs on the other hand, would probably look less favorably on the traditional season of their slaughter.
And so it went that the justifiably feted 2017 rookie class played the role of sacrificial lambs on a textbook autumnal day in Western Australia. It was a day when Connor O'Leary would be the exception that proved the rule at Margaret River Main Break, as one of just two rookies (Ian Gouveia is the other) not to be leaving Western Australia with an equal last.
While none of the new faces went quietly, Frederico Morais in particular stood out with surfing and scores that would be more than worthy to earn a stay of execution in most heats. Alas, Ace Buchan drew upon his predatory instincts to rustle up the right number. Another rookie, Leo Fioravanti, made a strong case for clemency, but his opponent Joel Parkinson's marginally sharper blade would ultimately strike the fatal blow.
Ethan Ewing, perhaps the most prodigious of the rookie flock, wasn't able to avoid the ax, despite serving one of the most prime cuts of the day with an 8.60. And despite juiced-up conditions that suited their power-based approaches, neither Zeke Lau or Joan Duru -- two more first-timers to the Tour -- could avoid adding to the unmistakable aroma of fresh meat carried seaward on a keen, unforgiving wind.
Tune in Friday at 7 a.m. local WA time (Thursday at 4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST U.S.) to see how the remaining two rookies fare.