Here at SW we do not believe in Fads. But by god we do believe in Trends.
Here’s a trend in WSL CT-Land. It’s been building for a couple of years now and in 2018, it may become un-ignorable.
It’s this: the girls’ roster, and thus their title race and really their whole gig, is pound for pound better than the boys’. There’s more title challengers, more surfers peaking, a faster performance growth rate, and a better range of events for ‘em to push it in. It’s just better.
Have a look at last year. Really the last two years, but last year in particular. John Florence came out casual, found his feet in the second event, recorded a performance that remained unmatched all year even by him, and thus gave birth to his second world title nine months later, fulfilling almost universal predictions of same. Only for a brief period late in the year, when Gabriel Medina got a couple of wins against the general run of form, did a miscarriage seem even possible.
Other guys had their moments, but never really got into the title slipstream. Retirements occurred, Other retirements loomed in the background. Kelly couldn’t quite get a challenge up and must be on longer odds of doing so in ’18.
Meanwhile in the girls’, with half the numbers, five surfers were still in with a shot at the last event: Tyler Wright, Steph Gilmore, Courtney Conlogue, Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons. All surfers with very different strengths, but all full on challengers. Tyler overcame a significant knee injury to win her second title in the clutch. The surfing all year was excellent to superb, with the five title challengers being backed up by the likes of Lakey Peterson and Nikki van Dijk and a bunch of others who are still growing into their skills and possibilities.
There’s no talk of retirement for any of ‘em in 2018. They’ve got J-Bay added to their tour and they’ll smash Kelly’s pool. Right now you couldn’t pick a winner out of that pack, you just know they’re ready to sort it out between them.
And the boys? It’s looking like one big Testimonial Year. Anyone wanna bet against John?