Maybe not the changing of the guard, but definitely the changing of the shift. Carissa Moore out, Malia Manuel in. Photo: Corey Wilson
Black and yellow, black and yellow. Courney Conlogue was winning NSSA’s when that Wiz Khalifa song was en vogue. Just look at her now. Photo: Kirstin/ASP
I’m new here
Unlike the men’s WCT — where anyone can win any heat — the women’s is a little more, say, predictable. Or at least it has been in the past. Last year, we saw Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright go win-for-win while Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons were essentially unbeatable when they weren’t against the aforementioned two. This year, though, things have changed. There are new girls that have carved themselves into elitists. More title contenders, so to speak. We’ll be talking about that later, because first…
Just give me five more minutes
How about twenty? It was a lazy start at Margaret River. A bustling morning freesurf made it an easy decision to call the contest on. But then, nothing. Alana Blanchard and Dimity Stoyle paddled out for the first heat and neither girl did so much as paddle for a wave for the first twenty minutes — forcing not one, but two restarts. The heat eventually became lukewarm and the rest of Round 2 carried on in somewhat of a sleepy fashion. But then, just before noon, the offshore wind went dead and the waves came alive. The call was made to run Rounds 3 and 4 and the surfing singed like the afternoon sun. It raised a good question.
Could this be her year?
Depends on who you’re asking about. But there’s a good chance it is if we’re talking…
Courtney Conlogue: Remember when we said there are new girls that are legitimate title threats? Courntey’s one of ‘em. Santa Ana’s finest dismantled Stephanie Gilmore today, and the two will surf in a woman-on-woman battle in the first heat of the Quarters. It’s a big opportunity for Courntey to make a statement.
Bianca Buitendag: Just like Courtney, Bianca has proved herself to be a force that very few people would dare to reckon with. She backed up her runner-up finish on the Gold Coast with a few big wins at the Drug Aware Pro — her 17.50 Round 3 heat total was the day’s highest. How about that backhand? She’s like the girl Nat Yong!
Carissa Moore: The defending world champ went on the offensive today. More clean, man-like surfing from the Hawaiian sweetheart. No surprises here.
Tyler Wright: Last year was almost Tyler’s year and that probably pisses her off. This year, Tyler looks focused. That should frighten her adversaries, because the combination of being both pissed off and focused is quite scary.
Stephanie Gilmore: At 26-years-old, Stephanie is somehow the oldest girl on tour. Weird, right? Well, all that apparent maturity is paying off. Stephanie made the right decisions at all the right times today (aside from her heat with Courtney).
Malia Manuel: All that progressive freesurfing is finally starting to translate. Malia looked sharp today — the wind blowing into the rights favors her more than anyone else.
Laura Enever: Laura surfed four times today. While she looked good, Miss Enever didn’t do anything all that awe-inspiring in her bouts. But if you’re still sending people packing after four heats of grueling, you gotta be doing something right.
Sally Fitzgibbons: People kept asking if this is Sally’s year and early indications are that it might be. Sally was relegated to Round 4 today, but she threw gavels in her heat against Coco Ho to earn that spot in the Quarters. Hello finals?
Sharks: It is definitely the shark’s year. Everybody wants to talk about them, but nobody wants to want to talk about them. A 64-year-old woman was killed by a shark today in New South Wales and the body of a missing diver was discovered with shark bites right here in West Oz. Scary stuff.
There’s a 40% we’ll see a female champion crowned. The call will be made by the dawn’s early light. Also, rumors are that the men’s event will likely finish by Monday.