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We’ve hit the Aussie leg of the WSL tour and a bunch of home grown hopes are right in the mix


WSL Tour update

Three events on the WSL Tour have been run and won, as we ‘turn for home’ and welcome surfing’s elite to a couple of the world’s most iconic wave locations down under.

What a truly glorious time of year.

The weather’s cooling and the footy’s kicked in, but more importantly the winter swells are starting to make a return. And just in time for an iconic event on the sporting landscape that annually correlates with Easter, the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro.

It’s go-time for the down under leg on the WSL Tour; this year it’s two major stops happening in Australia. After the world’s best put on a show in the picture perfect Bells bowl, everyone heads west for the Margaret River Pro – an event with several fascinating variables.

WSL Tour update
WSL Tour update | Aussie legs Margaret River (left) & Bells Beach (right)

So let’s quickly take stock and see where things are at, so we can start to get pumped about some juicy swells and, of course, Bells.

2023 WSL tour update

Men’s tour

It’s been 10 years now since an Aussie claimed a Men’s WSL Tour world title; Mick Fanning in 2013. And like last year, Jack Robinson is once again right in the mix to end the drought. In fact, the West Australian has the yellow jersey as the Tour hits the Aussie leg.

Frankly, Robinson’s been the best surfer on tour for more than 12 months now. Things didn’t fall his way at Trestles for the finals event last year, in what’s a very flawed WSL Tour formatting structure to decide world champion (even if that did work in Stephanie Gilmore’s favour!!). But that’s a topic for another day.

As is now normally the case, a handful of Brazilians are right in the mix… Brazil makes up five of the top 10 in the rankings, three right underneath the Aussie frontrunner. Young gun Joao Chianca sits just beneath Robinson in second, coming off a maiden event victory in Portugal at Supertubos, Peniche.

Robinson got off to a flyer, winning season-opener Pipeline on Oahu’s north, before his unbeaten run ended in the Semi-Final at Sunset Beach. He made the Final at Supertubos as well, so it’s been an incredible run so far.

WSL Tour update
WSL Tour update | Jack Robinson celebrates his 2023 Pipeline victory

Joining Jack in the Men’s top 10 after three WSL events are compatriots Callum Robson (7th) and Ethan Ewing (10th).

Women’s tour

It’s also an Aussie leading the women’s charge on the WSL Tour as we turn for home, with Molly Picklum emerging into a star right in front of our eyes. The Sunset champ is in ripping form and sits just ahead of Hawaiian five-time world champ and Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore. Then there’s also Californian rising star Caitlin Summers, who’s coming off a win in Portugal.

Pipe runner-up Tyler Wright is in 4th, well within striking distance. Australian veterans Sally Fitzgibbons and defending world champ Gilmore are in 11th and 14th respectively.

Now that’s been addressed, let’s look at the next stop on the WSL Tour and the first of two Aussie locations.

Stop #1 – Bells Beach

EVENT WINDOW: April 4-14

You’ve gotta win it to ring it. That’s what they say and it ain’t wrong.

The Bell trophy ringing and indigenous face painting ceremony is all part of the Rip Curl Pro presentation; the prize that awaits those good enough to win what’s considered one of the most prestigious events on the WSL Tour. If Pipeline is the ‘Wimbledon’ of surfing, Bells would be one of the other ‘majors’ on the calendar.

WSL Tour update | All about Bells Beach and the Rip Curl Pro

While occasionally tournament directors decide to move it to one of the nearby breaks, the Rip Curl Pro for the most part happens inside the Bells bowl; a stunning right point break that sets up long, rolling rides and huge walls to carve into.

Filipe Toledo (Brazil) and Tyler Wright (Australia) are the defending Men’s and Women’s champs. Some of the greats Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore have all ‘rung it’ four times. Interestingly, 29-year-old three-time World champ Gabriel Medina has never got the job done at Bells.

Stop #2 – Margaret River

EVENT WINDOW: April 20-30

Whether it’s the rock and reef to contend with at main break, the various other breaks it regularly moves to or the occasional shark sighting, you never quite know what’s in store when the WSL Tour heads west.

The Margaret River Pro was re-introduced to the tour ten years ago. ‘Margs’ gets notoriously big during the event window and, if it’s breaking right, sometimes officials will move it a little further up to ‘the box’ – a slabby little section that produces expert level barrels – or even North Point when it’s really pumping.

Aussies Jack Robinson and Isabella Nicholls are the defending champs, taking out the Men’s and Women’s Finals in 2022.

WSL Tour update
WSL Tour update | Jack Robinson & Isabella Nicholls celebrate at Margaret River

World Surf League Championship Tour 2023 events

COMPLETE: Billabong Pro Pipeline, Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal

NEXT: Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Western Australia Margaret River Pro

THEN: Surf Ranch Pro (May 27-28), Surf City El Salvador Pro (June 9-18), VIVO Rio Pro (June 23-July 1), Corona Open J-Bay (July 13-22), SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro (August 11-20), Rip Curl WSL Finals (September 7-15)

Australia’s Championship Tour title hopes after three events

MENS: Jack Robinson (1st), Callum Robson (7th), Ethan Ewing (10th)

WOMENS: Molly Picklum (1st), Tyler Wright (4th)

Who are the defending champs on the WSL Tour?

FILIPE TOLEDO: Jack Robinson and Ethan Ewing fell just short in San Clemente, California. In the end, Filipe Toledo converted top seeding at Trestles and claimed his maiden world title.

STEPHANIE GILMORE: On the Women’s tour, Stephanie Gilmore ran the table at Trestles from fifth seed in the finals event, moving ahead of Layne Beachley (7) and becoming an eight-time world champ.

Picture of Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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