And we’re back. A more-than-three-week hiatus following the Margaret River Pro will end on the 28th of May, when the Championship Tour returns for the Quiksilver/Roxy Pro G-Land. The event will be the first following the inaugural mid-season cut, meaning our two lists of competitors will be significantly smaller than they were for the first five events of the season. On the women’s side, just ten surfers plus wildcards Bronte Macaulay and Sally Fitzgibbons – who were technically cut after finishing 14th and 15th after five events – will compete, making this a particularly short event. The Opening Round will include four three-woman heats, with the winners advancing straight to the quarterfinals and the rest heading to the Elimination Round. Let’s take a look at the best chances to take out the event.
Carissa Moore’s incredible run of top four finishes has hit something of a speed bump this year, with two of her last four contests ending in the Round of 16 – including the most recent event at Margaret River. Despite that, she still sits in second place in the world rankings. She’s yet to notch up a win this year but has made two finals and another semi, and few would argue against her credibility as the favourite for this year’s world title. As she is at every event, Moore is undoubtedly among the best chances to take out the Roxy Pro G-Land.
Moore’s biggest challenger in the world title race appears, at this point, to be Tyler Wright, who should also be there at the business end of this event. Wright suffered a disappointing Round of 16 loss at Margaret River following her win at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, but she doesn’t deserve to be judged too harshly for that; she was dominant in her Opening Round heat before scoring 13.97 in the Round of 16, and it was only because she came up against a rampaging Molly Picklum that she was eliminated. Expect her to bounce back quickly in Indonesia.
The Next Tier
Moore and Wright are the clear favourites heading into this event, but there is a hefty chasing pack, beginning with the experienced Courtney Conlogue. Conlogue has been gradually working her way into form throughout the course of the year; in her five events she has finished, in order, 17th, 9th, 5th, 3rd and 3rd. After a slow start she is beginning to wind up and has crept into the top five, and with another good performance can close the gap on the breakaway top three of Moore, Wright and Brisa Hennessy.
Hennessy, incidentally, is still wearing the yellow jersey after five events, but try as she might she still doesn’t seem to be getting the respect as a genuine world title competitor of many of the other names on this list. The Costa Rican, of course, leapt out of the blocks with a quarterfinal appearance and then a win in Hawaii, but she’s maintained her good form since then, making it through to the semis at Bells and the quarters at Margaret River. Few expected such a rapid rise from the 22-year-old this year, but with each passing event she is proving that her hot start to the season was no fluke. Count her out at your own peril at G-Land.
Lakey Peterson’s disappointing Round of 16 at Bells Beach repeated itself at Margaret River, and her poor Australian leg saw her drop out of the top five in the world rankings – albeit by the barest of margins. The Californian, however, has rarely been out of the estimations towards the top of the leaderboard over the past decade, so don’t expect her to stay down for too long. She’s already got a couple of semi-final appearances to her name so far this year, and it would be no surprise to see her notch up another one in the next week.
Speaking of surfers who have been a regular feature of the top part of the leaderboard for an extended period; Steph Gilmore might be past her best, but the seven-time world champ has shown at times this year that she still has something left to give. After a slow start to the year, she’s put together three consecutive quarterfinal appearances, and at the latest event in Margaret River was only knocked out at that stage by 0.1 points. Her days of winning multiple events every year may be over, but she is still a consistent threat and is in solid form heading into this one.
Sally Fitzgibbons couldn’t do enough to work her way into the top ten at Margaret River, being knocked out in the Round of 16 and subsequently failing to make the mid-season cut. She did, however, get a reprieve, being granted a wildcard spot in 2023 and being named the first replacement for the rest of the events for this year. And with Caroline Marks, the wildcard for the second half of the 2022 season, still away from the tour, that means Fitzgibbons will get a chance at this event and potentially a few more throughout the rest of the year. She didn’t show the requisite form to be a genuine threat in the first five events, but that is highly unusual for a woman who has been as consistent as anyone at the top of the leaderboard over the past decade or so. At just 31 years of age, Fitzgibbons still has plenty to give at the top level, and perhaps having her spot on tour ripped away from her only to be given straight back will be the catalyst she needs to kick her season into gear.
With just 12 surfers competing in this event, there’s not a single surfer set to enter the water who doesn’t have some chance of winning the Roxy Pro G-Land. Undoubtedly, however, it’s Moore and Wright sitting out on top as the best two chances of taking it out. The two finalists at Bells Beach both had disappointing follow-up results at Margaret River, but it wouldn’t surprise to see each of them bounce back in a big way at G-Land. Moore has been good this year without breaking through for a win; this could be the event at which she’ll do it, and in the process grab a yellow jersey which will be very tough to prise from off her back for the rest of the year.