The 2022 Championship Tour is finally upon us, and is set to be the first full year since 2019 after COVID-19 either ravaged or completely cancelled each of the last two. As it was last year, 2022 looks likely to see a whole lot of competition for spots, though the dominant Carissa Moore undoubtedly sits at the top of the pack as the woman to beat. Let’s take a look at the best chances this year, and who we reckon might take it all out.
Carissa Moore ($3)
At the age of 29, Carissa Moore’s career is in the process of developing from a brilliant one into an historic one. Last season, she led the world rankings from start to finish, making it two consecutive world titles and five in total. That leaves her just two behind Layne Beachley and Steph Gilmore as the most successful female surfer in history, and the way she is surfing she is very capable of joining or surpassing them.
Her performance throughout the course of last year was one of the best of her career. She won just one of the seven regular season events, but incredibly made it to the semi-finals in every single event, accumulating world rankings points while she was shelling peas before performing on the biggest stage in a thrilling WSL Finals matchup with Tatiana Weston-Webb. She’s got the ability to perform on virtually every wave on the Tour, and has the experience to surf at her best when it matters most. If she’s not winning or going very close this season, it will be a massive surprise.
Caroline Marks ($5.50)
Could this be the year that Caroline Marks finally takes her career to the next level? It feels as though we’ve been asking that question for a while, but incredibly she will start this season still a teenager. For years the talent of the Floridian has been plain to see, and at her best she might be the best surfer in the world. However, likely in a sign of her age, it’s her consistency rather than talent which has held her back the most thus far. She racked up a first and a third place finish in the first three events last year, but three ninths in the last four events saw her drop back to sixth place in the world rankings and miss out on a spot at the WSL Finals.
The goofy footer can smack the lip like few others in the world; she’s just got to do it more regularly and find a way to construct her heats a little better. At just 19 years of age, she has more than enough time to learn how to do exactly that, and if she doesn’t take a big leap forward and become a legitimate world title threat this year then it will be a big surprise.
Tyler Wright ($6)
It wasn’t long ago that Tyler Wright was unequivocally the best surfer in the world. At the age of just 22, she won her first world title in 2016 before backing it up again the following season. In 2018, she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, and has battled numerous injuries ever since. Last year appeared as though it might be the season in which she returned to her best form following a win in the inaugural event at Pipeline, but she failed to make another final and ended up finishing in a tie for sixth place with Marks.
The sister of Owen and Mikey, Tyler is still just 27 years of age and theoretically should still have plenty of years left competing at the top level. Continual interruptions have unsurprisingly impacted her form, but a decent run at things last season provides the best run into a year that she’s had in a long time. At her best she is one of the most likely to match it with Moore, so it wouldn’t be a shock in the slightest to see her in the WSL Finals at Trestles, and potentially winning it.
Tatiana Weston-Webb ($6.50)
Tatiana Weston-Webb has been a model of perseverance over the past few years, improving incrementally year upon year to the point where she is now deservingly seen as one of the best chances of taking out the 2022 world title. She went heartbreakingly close last year; finishing second in the world rankings, she made it through to the final against Carissa Moore and had a chance to likely claim the title on her last wave, only to fall on a tricky section; albeit one that she would probably generally make.
That would have been a bitter pill to swallow, but the Brazilian goofy footer has shown plenty of persistence over the course of her career and will likely come back with as much desire to earn her first world crown as ever. There’s going to be plenty of competition for spots in the upper echelon of the women’s leaderboard, but she will be expecting to be in the top five and on a plane to Trestles come season’s end.
Sally Fitzgibbons ($10)
Sally Fitzgibbons might be the most deserving world champion to have never won one, and at 31 years old she should theoretically be running out of time to make that dream a reality. The laconic Aussie has been a consistent presence in the top five of the world rankings for over a decade, but has unfortunately never been able to translate that into a world title. Last season, however, she showed that age is certainly not slowing her down just yet. She won one event and finished third in three more on the way to a third place finish, but a spot on the podium would have been frustrating for someone who has spent plenty of time there without ever making it onto the top step.
Though she might not have the propensity to win as many events as some of the other names on this list, she is a picture of consistency, and this ability to turn up to each and every event means a spot in the top five this season is once again well within her grasp. Whether she’s capable of then knocking off the likes of Moore, Marks and Wright at the WSL Finals is another question, but it would be a harsh marker who puts a line through her.
It seems almost blasphemous to tip against Carissa Moore at this point, but we’re going to do it anyway. Marks’ talent is so plain to see and it’s virtually impossible to imagine her going through her career without at least one and most likely multiple world titles, and maybe this will be the year that it begins. There’s certainly an argument to be made that she’s the best in the world if everyone is surfing at their best, and if she can add consistency to her list of attributes in 2022 she will be extremely tough to beat.