Before all eyes turn to the CT and the Quik Pro Gold Coast, we thought we'd have a quick rake through the ashes of what was a six week, six event QS singletfest.
Mikey Wright Surfing Superstar
Mikey Wright is fucking surfing superstar. Yet even the brightest of surfing supernovas can be dulled by the rigors of the QS. Despite flickering in 2017, his end of year ranking of 36 was a massive disappointment for most surf fans. However with an explosive two weeks in Newcastle, where he helmed the Culburra win in the Battle of the Boardriders and then won the QS6000 event, Wright proved he has the competitive chops to dismantle the lesser lights on the QS. A solid backup at Manly in testing conditions was further proof that the only thing he seems deadly serious about is making the CT. With 8000 points, he’s halfway there.
Jackson Baker’s Haymakers
Jackson Baker announced himself as a genuine QS contender with back-to-back victories at Kingscliff and Boomerang that featured a mix power hacks and big airs. He then backed up those performances with a mature and gritty effort for Merewether in the Battle of The Boardriders. Baker is only 20 and having had his first proper taste of the QS last year, should be in a much better position to climb from his 2017 ranking of 105. "I'm really keen to have a solid year on the QS and crack the top 50 or maybe even better we'll have to wait and see,” he told the WSL. “I've been training hard and eating well so it's nice to see that pay off.” Poor results at Newcastle and Manly may have derailed the momentum a little, but he’s a talent to watch in 2018.
Banting is Back
Matt Banting’s third place at the Vissla Pro Manly was easily the feel good result of the week. Banting hadn’t surfed for the whole of 2017, after suffering osteitis pubis, or inflammation in the hip and groin. During that enforced lay off he was also dropped by his major sponsor Quiksilver. The signs were positive however at Boomerang and Newcastle that Banting was back to the form that saw him smash the QS back in 2015. A third at Manly then confirmed that a fully fit Banting is better than most of his competitors. If he can manage his injuries, a return to the CT awaits.
The Pipe Posse Push
The current crop of Hawaiian groms are the Islands’ best for a generation. The Moniz Brothers, World Junior Champ Finn McGill and Manly finalist Barron Mamiya all look set to represent at the elite level for the next decade. While they are all still too young to buy beer at Food Market, they possess ridiculous composure in heavy water and match their Pipe chops with an electric small wave arsenal. Having grown up pushing each other at Pipe, they look set to group propel themselves on the QS as well. With a solid crew flying the Hawaiian flag on tour already, including John John, Seabass, Zeke Lau and Keanu Asing , you sense they will be getting reinforcements real soon.
There’s few surfers that go faster than Deivid Silva in beachbreaks and when the swell tailed off for the weekend at Manly, his odds of success shortened in line with the wave heights. In the last three years the goofyfooter has finished 24th, 16th and 35th on the QS, usually ending up only one result off a qualification place. In 2017 he won three QS events, and in 2018 has already bagged a QS6000. Still only 23, you’d have to think this could be the year he makes the grade.