Steph Gilmore, Australian Captain, with the Australain flag on her shoulder. Photo: WSL/Rowland

Who Will Be Picked In The WSL’s New Teams Event?

It’s Australia vs USA vs Brazil vs Europe vs The World! Let’s explore!

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Yesterday, just after midnight, the WSL sent out a press release announcing an entirely new, two day specialty surfing event to be held in May 5-6 this year. The drop was:

It’s a teams event! It’s at the wave pool! And the public will be able to buy tickets like a real life sport!

That’s a lot of new and interesting things, and pretty exciting following the incredible entertainment of the Australian Boardriders Battle a week and a half ago that saw a bunch of us calling for an event like that pushed to an International level. For This Week In Surfing on Coastalwatch last Friday, I wrote:

Surely somehow, someway, we can get at least a one-off specialty event where CT elite level surfers represent their countries in this heart in your mouth format. Beyond the Grand Slams,Tennis has the Davis Cup competition. Why can’t the WSL take what we have here and make it bigger?

The answer was they can. Though I’m not sure the wave pool will be able to produce the same thrill and suspense as the ocean did in Newcastle for that event, but it’s a start.

Called the Founders’ Cup of Surfing presented by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold (what a mouthful), the teams will be region based, and consist of three fellas and two ladies. The regions and their team captains have already been announced and are as follows.

USA: Kelly Slater

Australia: Stephanie Gilmore

Brazil: Gabriel Medina

Europe: Johanne Defay

World: Jordy Smith.

Notice how there is a USA team but no Hawaii team, which means this is event will be in line with how the Olympics will treat surfing, as opposed to how surfing treats surfing, and that’s a shame. That aside, I am reaaaally into the marketing imagery the WSL has been rolling out on Instagram around it.

Not present in the WSL announcement was who will be joining these captains in their teams, or how they will be chosen. So let’s dive in.

If the teams were based on the CT rankings at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, here’s how the teams would would fall (I think):

Team USA

Kelly Slater (c)
John John Florence
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
Courtney Conlogue

Team Aus

Stephanie Gilmore (c)
Tyler Wright
Julian Wilson
Matt Wilkinson
Owen Wright

Team Brazil

Gabriel Medina (c)
Adriano DeSouza
Filipe Toledo
Silvana Lima
Taina Hinckel

Team Europe

Johanne Defay (c) (France)
Frederico Morais (Portugal)
Jeremy Flores (France)
Joan Duru (France)
Pauline Ado (France)

Team World

Jordy Smith (c) (South Africa)
Kanoa Igarashi (Japan)
Michel Bourez (Tahiti)
Paige Hareb (New Zealand)
Bianca Buitendag (South Africa)

Interesting, interesting, interesting, no? That Brazil team is looking tough to beat (though Taina Hinckel, who finished 45th on the QS last year, is a weak spot), the US team looks extremely strong too (strangely, with Kelly Slater as their weakest link – one event win in the last four years). Aus is… not bad. While Europe (which is mostly France) and The World would probably get smoked. If it were up to me (sadly, it isn’t), I’d be sneaking Mick Fanning into Owen Wright’s spot (Owey is too big for it) and swapping Joan Duru for current QS recampaigner Leo Fioravanti.

What changes would you be making?

Mike Jennings