It was good year on the QS for our grinders.
Much has been made about the lack of Aussie title contenders on this year’s tour. The past few seasons have also been pretty dismal for getting our qualifiers through the gates. But if there’s anything an Australian surf fan can take heart in, it’s the amount of Aussies that took to the QS in 2019 and gave it a bloody good nudge.
With just the Pipe Masters left to decide the final line-up for next year’s world tour, three of our best have already qualified, with the potential for one or two more to join them. Any more than three and it’ll be our best showing in years. Five and we’ll have claimed half the qualifying spots on offer.
None of this is to brag or to say Australian surfing is about to reclaim its position as the dominant force on tour, but rather to point out that while we might have been going through a slump in recent times, it won’t last forever.
Ethan Ewing and Connor O’Leary will both return to the big leagues better surfers than when they left, and Jack Robinson is sure to do damage every time the waves get serious. Young Novocastrian, Morgan Cibilic, will benefit from having Ryan Callinan there to show him the ropes if he gets on, and Stu Kennedy, the dogged Lennox journeyman who’s turned heads on the world stage before, will be fired up if he gets the chance to do it again.
Beyond them, too, was a host of guys who were just a handful of heat wins away from making the cut.
Jacob Wilcox has been knocking on the door for a while and already proved at Bells this year that he’s capable of performing on tour, nabbing a fifth. He’ll no doubt be psyched to join Margaret River sparring partner Jack Robinson on the CT as soon as possible.
Matt Banting is also back in the picture in a big way, sliding out of contention in Hawaii after sitting on the cusp of requalifying all year. As spewing as he must be, it’ll surely fire him up to come out swinging in 2020 and to make sure he’s ready for Hawaii when it rolls around.
Liam O’Brien also looks destined to make the cut at some stage, after he blazed onto the world stage at Huntington with his sharp and stylish surfing. Just 18 and already with a handful of lower-rated QS wins to his name, there’s every chance he’ll be on tour within a couple of years.
Mitch Crews, Caleb Tancred and Jordan Lawler all had decent showings in 2019, and behind them, the likes of Reef Heazlewood and Kalani Ball both mixed it in major events at certain stages throughout the year.
Brazil is undoubtedly still surfing’s dominant force. Europe continues to grow stronger every year. Hawaii and the States have their contenders. But Australia’s ranks are once again looking promising and after a few slow years, that’s worth recognising.