Disclaimer: This article is only looking at true Tour rookies, i.e. someone who has never competed for a full year on the CT. Kolohe, Miguel, and Alejo are therefore banished from this article and will be forced to wear a scarlet Q on their chests for the entirety of the 2016 season.
Rookies are shown in order of 2015 QS rankings.
Name: Caio Ibelli
Strengths: Rail game, air game, small to medium sized waves.
Weaknesses: Maybe big slabs? Only time will tell.
Overall prediction: Alessa’s cuddle buddy is an exceptionally solid surfer in most conditions applicable to CT venues. Despite his aesthetic similarities to a certain Ice Age character, I feel that Caio will set the Tour ablaze and take out some big names early in the season.
Strengths: Airs, frontside in general, smallish waves
Weaknesses: Strength (or lack thereof), big lefts, Alana (who’s leaving her bed?)
Overall prediction: The rich man’s Matt Banting will put up some flashy performances throughout the year but will lack the overall power and consistency to win key heats. Sadly, natural talent doesn’t always equate to competitive capacity, just ask JJF.
Name: Kanoa Igarashi
Nationality: Bald eagle that goes to sushi sometimes
Strengths: Technique, small waves, coached by tour veteran
Weaknesses: Tour veteran coach is Brett Simpson
Overall prediction: Kanoa will be the best Japanese surfer on Tour this year, but Glenn Hall was the best Irishman for two dismal seasons so what is that really saying? I worry that Kanoa might be too young and too fragile for this elite level. His surfing is very aesthetically pleasing, but he may not be ready to face the big dawgs at the tender age of 18.
Name: Alex Ribeiro
Strengths: Rail, power, overall technique
Weaknesses: He’s a little…bland
Overall prediction: Alex is a very sturdy surfer, I see him locking down consistent 6s and 7s throughout the year, but not too many electric performances. He will see Rounds 3 and 5 a lot but will struggle to crack into finals.
Name: Conner Coffin
Strengths: Built Ford tough is this one, also has ample chest hair that will help disperse spray and garner serious points when the waves have some punch
Weaknesses: Dribbly conditions.
Overall prediction: The flightless Dane Reynolds will look strong at most locations on tour, but if he wants to have a lasting impact he’ll have to come out of the gates hot during the Australian leg. If he falters there, I see him struggling during the rest of the year despite some inspiring performances (see: J-Bay).
Name: Ryan Callinan
Strengths: Airs, barrels, turns
Weaknesses: Jack Robinson cuts his hair, also he’s secretly jealous of Alana…maybe
Overall prediction: There are 3 types of surfers who can win a World Title: a regularfooter with smooth railwork and backside barrel prowess, a goofyfooter with an unfaltering backside hook, a flagrant air game, and strong toeside tube skills, OR Adriano De Souza. Ryan fits snugly into the second category, and therefore I see him having a banner year with big results at multiple venues. The new-age Ace?
Name: Davey Cathels
Strengths: Probably won’t fall?
Weaknesses: Lots of 5’s
Overall prediction: Davey reminds me of Ben Dunn. Good technique, cute hair, but not someone you’re gonna remember 10 years down the line. His surfing has no differentiating factors from any of the other guys on the tour, and the judges will quickly catch onto his lack of originality. Davey should probably go see Mason Ho during the break for some trippy guru enlightenment and chop hop trick tips.
Secondary disclaimer: Last year I said Italo wouldn’t make a heat, and look at him now! —Michael Ciaramella