Quiky, Roxy Pros mark a new era
IS 2018 ushering in a new era of professional surfing?
Judging by the wash-up of the first World Surf League (WSL) tour event of the year with new winners in Coolum's Julian Wilson and California's Lakey Peterson, you'd have to say yes!
And then there's a whole new guard of rookies on the rampage creating all sort of carnage amongst the rank and file of the so-called 'challengers' to the world title crown.
California's Griffin Colapinto is the ultimate rookie.
The fresh-faced first timer on tour, surfing for the first time at Kirra, was showing maturity beyond his 19 years of age at last week's Quiksilver Pro. The humble yet fully fired-up and clinically focused challenger almost took Julian Wilson down in the semi, had he exited out of the last double keg ride.
Then there were the new breed of 'Brazilian storm' with Tomas Hermes taking down Brazilian favourite and former winner Filipe Toledo to reach the semis. It was Tomas's first surf at Kirra, too.
In a clash of the Brazilians, Michael Rodrigues put out the 2015 World Champ Adriano de Souza, and Brazil's first world champ Gabriel Medina was left wondering what happened when bundled out in round 3 by trials winner Mikey Wright.
WSL commentator and 1989 World Champion Martin Potter knows only too well what it's like to be an upstart rookie. In 1982, at 16 years of age, he created a huge upset by beating four- times world champion Mark Richards in the quarter finals at the Sydney Coke Surfabout Classic.
Richards went on to win his fourth world title, but retired the following year due to a chronic bad back from crunching endless pivotal turns on his world title twin-fin winning machine.
"I've been around the sport for a long time, "said Pottz, now 52-years-old.
"Long enough to say that there is a definite shift in the ranks. We are living in a new era of surfing. These kids are groomed at a young age, come from surfing a 1000 heats, have studied the world's best and are ready and hungry for a result.”
Fortunately, the Aussie pair of Wilson and Buchan withstood the rookie pressure and salvaged our Aussie pride with an all-Australian final.
This could be Julian Wilson's best chance yet to win that illusive World Title. He was in the top five last year and if he can win Bells, he will be hard to stop as long as his shoulder hangs in there, and Gold Coast miracle worker physiotherapist Chris Prosser is there to prop him up as he did at Kirra when it counted.
The best-case scenario would be to see both Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson in the final at Bells Beach up next at Easter.
Wouldn't that be nice: Mick could win for the classic swansong and Julian would still be leading the world rankings.