The WSL has hit the Green Light on its ‘No Spectator’ Specialty event, which is scheduled to be held at Cabarita this upcoming Sunday and Monday. The trials are currently underway to determine who will obtain the final slots in the contest, which features present stars of the CT, alongside a selection of QS hopefuls and a couple of local wildcards.      

Like most other international sporting organisations the WSL has been hamstrung by the travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

With COVID’s evil miasma still lurking they have promoted this as a NO SPECTATOR event. However, while you may be ready for the canned cheers and fake crowds (as we’ve seen in other sports) it’s unlikely that these faux atmospheric enhancers will be required.

Cabarita Point, the scheduled location for the event, is a busy North Coast surf-hub, which plays host to hundreds of surfers and beachgoers on any given day. While the WSL may have to officially call it a No Spectator event they’ve got buckleys of pulling that off unless they have some kind of radical security plan. While the wave at Caba’ may be a poor man’s version of the Coolangatta points to the north, as a natural amphitheatre for watching surfing there are few better places in the world. The elevated car-park at the end of the point delivers a classic overview of a picturesque lineup framed by Pandanus palms. “ The Caba car park is packed on any given day, let alone when there’s a contest with world-class surfers,” commented one local Tracks spoke to.  

While Caba might not boast the cylindrical potential of its northern cousins, it is for many a more exciting contest prospect than the WSL’s first COVID-ERA experiment at the wave pool. Caba is very sand dependent and there is no artificial assistance from pumps or a tweed bypass, but by all reports, the banks are shaping up well. The WSL’s forecast is suggesting wave faces in the four-six foot range. ‘Wave faces’ is a dubious term and probably equates to three-foot, but the one thing Caba has going for it, is that it’s arguably more of a swell magnet than the Gold Coast points, even if it is considerably mellower.

Without tour points or a World Title to fight for the challenge for the WSL is convincing the online fans that there is something worth pulling a singlet on for.

Perhaps PSW (Pro Surfing Withdrawal) and the fact we haven’t been able to watch the worlds best compete at a real beach all year will be sufficient to suck us into the webcast. Certainly, some of the round one match-ups suggest things could be at least mildly entertaining. Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright will be pitted against emerging talent Molly Picklum. Picklum is known for both her progressive approach and confidence in heavier conditions. It will be a prime opportunity for the younger surfer to upset her two celebrated competitors and showcase her evolved surfing act.

In the men’s division, the on-paper highlight of round one will be Julian Wilson, Jack Robinson, and Mikey Wright. All three surfers have free-surfing profiles that match their competition cred (In Jack and Mikey’s case the latter is more established)This potentially riveting showdown is as much a battle of the images as it is a heat with sirens and singlets. The clean-cut glory-hunter, the tube maestro turned competitor, and the resident WSL wild child. Will it be three to the beach that wins or will the unique combination of personalities ignite something special? We can only hope.

While the prospect of watching a contest may loom as appealing a few days out, the WSL has acquired an emerging competitor for the attention of surfers – the ocean. For various reasons we have been in the water more than ever over the past few months and have grown accustomed to making our own surfing a priority. If the waves look fun come Sunday and Monday will you be tuning in to see the Pros back in the ring or paddling out at a nearby peak getting high on your own supply? There’s always heat replays…  

 Tweed Coast Pro Round 1 Matchups: 

Women's

Heat 1: Isabella Nichols, Macy Callaghan, Philippa Anderson
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore, Zahli Kelly, Tweed Coast Wildcard (TBC)
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright, Molly Picklum
Heat 4: Nikki van Dijk, Keely Andrew, Holly Wawn 

Men's

Heat 1: Wade Carmichael, Adrian Buchan, Conor O'Leary
Heat 2: Owen Wright, Ethan Ewing, Tweed Coast Wildcard (TBC)
Heat 3: Julian Wilson, Jack Robinson, Mikey Wright
Heat 4: Ryan Callinan, Mathew McGilivray, Morgan Cibilic