It hasn't been the best year, but the clouds do have silver linings.
Being a non-Australian, this piece does not want to come across as judgmental. Who is anyone to judge? Yet there are pieces of Australia's year on tour that should be gathered together to paint a picture of the state of the nation. For brevity, let’s dive straight in.
Two great Australian surfers are retiring from the tour. Josh Kerr has hung up his booties, while Bede Durbidge is off to coach the crew for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games. Kerrzy has been a stalwart forever, oozing with inspirational surfing, new school moves, kerr-upts and others. He is always a surfer who is worthy of checking out in any conditions, and when he’s inspired can boost the best airs of the day. At first guess, he’ll be heading over to the Big Wave Tour. He already has a win there (Todos Santos Challenge 2015) and could easily find a second career with the big wave crew.
Ethan Ewing and Stuart Kennedy are also off the Championship Tour. With very poor results on the CT and with no QS game for either of them, they’re back at the starting point. Ethan Ewing has every chance of coming back onto the championship tour some time in the future as he’s literally secreting talent, and Stuart looked so good early in the season but soon ran out of steam.
Finally it also looks like Jack Freestone is heading off from the big leagues and is set on starting his family. While he didn't exactly light the CT up, he did show flashes of brilliance and probably should have a home on the tour again some time in the future.
That's five Australian surfers bowing out of the championship tour for 2018. There is also a little uncertainty of what the future holds for Joel and Mick, with both showing signs of fatigue on the tour and with both having made subtle understated comments about their professional surfing timelines. It’s clear that they are both in the twilight of their professional years, and it would be hard to imagine them going much further than the 2018 season. They both have world title trophies to their name, they both have long and illustrious careers behind them, and both are involved in the Balter craft brewery for the start of their post-surfing careers.
While that’s the grim side of the news out of the way, what’s the good news? Wade Carmichael is the good news. Well, apart from Julian Wilson, Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson sitting firmly at 4, 5 and 6 on the Jeep Leaderboard right now that is. Wade Carmichael is going to wreak some sort of havoc on the Championship Tour, as he has the brawn and skills for any of the more meaty waves on tour, the total lack of awe at the best in the world, and a pretty good competitive brain inside his large and hairy head. He’s going to fit right in on the premier tour, he’s going to become a permanent fixture, and he is going to look good doing it.
The other good news is Mikey Wright. He was such an incredible stand-out at the Ballito Pro in Durban. where he placed third and made a good jump up the ratings for his sought-after spot on the championship Tour. He is currently 22nd on the QS ratings, with nearly 11,000 points to his name, and he probably needs to go north of 18,000 to confirm a slot. It’s probably not going to happen – he would really need to have a blinder of a Hawaiian season – but funnier things have happened, and it would be a wonderful thing to have him representing Australia on the Championship Tour where he, along with Carmichael, will fuck shit up.