This Is The Worst Aussie QS Year Ever
When I say the word “ever” in that title up there, I don’t really mean, like, ever ever. I need someone like Nick Carroll, Matt Warshaw, Vaughan Blakey, Tim Baker or Sean Doherty to come in and correct me on the finer details of that. To pull me up and say, “Worst year ever? Mate, you shoulda seen 1994! Strewth that was a bad one etc..” But with the available data of the WSL website, the 2017 QS campaign for Australia is looking pretty bloody grim in comparison to the immediate past.
The Billabong Pro Cascais is on in Portugal right now, the third QS 10,000 of five in the year. And generally if you win a QS10,000 you get yourself on to the CT the following year such is their huge points value, that is unless you can do what Brazillians Jesse Mendes and Yago Dora have done and smoke two QS6,000s each, which is an incredible feat in itself. But right now, the Australians are struggling.
2016 was obviously a better year, with Connor O’Leary and Ethan Ewing finishing first and second (not to mention Jack Freestone claiming tenth spot to grab his spot in requalification).
2015 had Freestone in third, Cathels and Callinan in equal tenth, and Stuey Kennedy in 12, which was pivotal in gaining him the injury wildcards throughout 2016, that saw him earn his first official qualification via the big events on the CT.
In 2014 we had Matt Banting in second with CTers Julian Wilson, Adam Melling and Matt Wilkinson all in the top ten.
And 2013 saw a trio of Australian rookies in Adam Melling, Mitch Crews, and Dion Atkinson qualifying.
But for 2017, if we were to stop the QS right now, there wouldn’t be a single Australian getting through to the big dance of the 2018 CT. Interestingly, there isn’t a single CT surfer in the top ten at the moment either, neither double qualifying and giving someone outside the top ten a leg in to the 2018 CT, or using it to requalify as they fall below 22nd on the big stage. That’ll probably change in Hawaii, but before we get there, who are Australia’s hopes to right this dire situation? Let’s take a look.
Wade Carmichael: 12th
Sitting at 12th, the Central Coaster is on the bubble, backed by keeper results of a 5th at the QS10,000 in Ballito and a 3rd at the QS6,000 of the Azores Pro in Spain. Carmichael is an excellent chance to qualify this year because the relatively unsponsored perennial underdog of the QS is very fucking good in Hawaii. So much so he’s won Haleiwa before. Very do-able for Wade, and god it’d be great to see him get on the 2018 tour and unleash his power at pumping Jeffreys.
Cooper Chapman: 18th
In the teens thanks to making the final in a Japanese QS6,000, the Coop-daddy is now 23 years old, which means he’s well and truly out of the promising junior category of surfer, and into the unforgiving world of mid-20s QS chasing. That final finish puts him one and a half good results away from sneaking into that top ten. Tough task though.
Mikey Wright: 20th
The mulleted, tattooed, youngest sibling of surfing’s ultimate family scored himself a third in the South African QS10,000 netting him a big old 6,500 points. Behind that, though, he’s got bugger all to show for it. We’re all aware of his talent, not just from his famed name, but from his freesurfing clips which are punch in the face good with their raw out of the box talent, frequently considered the best in the year they’re released. What’s most arresting about the proposition of Mikey getting on the CT is that despite looking, sounding, and surfing like a free surf superstar, he is a competitive surfing thoroughbred with a whole childhood of heat wins and competition grooming. While Kanoa Igarashi is beating Mick and Julian at Trestles, and Leo Fioravanti is surfing his rookie year, Mikey grew up alongside those two beating them in King of the Groms comps. One QS10,000 win and he’d all but be in there, and he’d be a most popular inclusion, too.
Josh Kerr: 22nd
Josh Kerr is having his worst CT year since he requalified, only getting past Round 2 twice in seven events and still yet to jump past Round 3. On the QS, though, he’s got himself a handy 5th place at the US Open (5,200 points) and a 5th at the QS6,000 in Spain which gives him a neat 2,650 points which may or may not be the difference between an 11th and a 10th come year’s end. With two giant QS events in Hawaii, Kerrsy could well be surfing to save his career in November at Haleiwa and Sunset.
Wildcard: Jack Robinson: 108th
Look, Jack Robbo, has competitively underperformed so far in his glittering career. The kid is a freak, a prodigy whose name is no stranger sitting next to John John Florence’s in conversations about surfing’s best talents, but that has yet to translate to competitive success for Jack Jack. Despite winning the QS1,000 at Sunset in January, he’s all the way down in 108th at the moment. But a freakish talent is still a freakish talent, and Jack’s currently in Round 2 of the QS10,000 in Portugal happening right now. If he was to win there, he’d be off to Hawaii where he could do serious damage, just like he’s done so in the Pipe Masters Trials, against some of the best Pipe surfers in the world. It’s a long shot, but one that’s not beyond the realms of possibility.