CT surfers from Brazil, Australia, USA, South Africa and Europe set to battle it out in Kelly’s pool.
You might remember that it was only last week that Tracks put forward the highly original idea of an international teams challenge event. After the seeing the excitement and success of the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle, we said, “Surfing is an individual sport and as such doesn’t give you that opportunity to get behind a team. Now while the unique Australian Boardriders scene provides a perfect platform, there’s no reason why the format couldn’t be applied to the elite level.”
Well, it seems the WSL crack team of Hawaii negotiators must have been reading. In just a week since we posted that piece, they have miraculously organised an international teams event to be held at Kelly’s Surf Ranch on May 5 and 6. Called the WSL Founders' Cup of Surfing presented by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold (a Pale Lager beer made by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, just so you know) it will feature teams from the USA, Australia, Brazil, Europe and South Africa. The blurb says, “Twenty-five of the world's best surfers will compete on nation-based teams for the first time in WSL history.”
The event also gives yet another indication of just where the WSL sees the sport is heading. The announcement came with the chance to sign up for pre-sale tickets for the “unbelievable surfing, amazing vantage points, live music, delicious food, and a historic sports experience like no other.” Yep, it’s not just about the surfing, but the sushi, the Pearl Jam tribute band and the views!
Each team will consist of three male and two female surfers and while the teams haven’t been announced, the captains have. Stephanie Gilmore will helm the Australians, a selection that surely can brook no argument from anyone, anywhere. I can’t wait to see the ever-smiling six-times world champion channeling her inner Lawrie Lawrence to poolside rev the Aussies to victory.
The USA will be, surprisingly, led by Kelly Slater, with Gabriel Medina, Jordy Smith and Johanne Defay the other team captains. The Brazil team, you’d think, would go in as favorites with Medina, backed by Filipe Toledo and either Italo Ferreira or Adriano de Souza. Silvana Lima’s progressive act too would seem to suit the pool, although she is the only Brazilian woman ranked in the top 70 in the world, so that could be a potential weakness for the Brazil Nuts. The USA, with Slater’s homebuilt advantage, plus Florence and Andino, as well as Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue also look pretty tasty.
For the Aussies, if we were to go on current CT rankings, the team would be Gilmore and Tyler Wright, plus Wilko, Owen and Julian Wilson. Julian’s shoulder injury however could however open a spot up to the either of the veterans Parko or Fanning, or Connor O’Leary could to come into the mix. However I’m sure you Tracks' readers might have a few other ideas on the team’s makeup. What about a rampaging Mikey Wright as a wildcard for example to provide some airs and aggro?
No matter what the makeup the event looks to be a tantalizing prospect, allowing surf fans to get behind their team. It will also be a reliable indicator of what to expect when the first ever CT goes down at the Surf Ranch few months later. Lucky we thought of it first, huh?