Jack Robinson Out With Injury as World Tour Heads to His Home Break of Margaret River
Margaret River World Surf League World Championship Tour (CT)
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro starts in three days April 20, and it promises to be one of the most exciting events of the year. Not only is it held between the open-ocean walls of Margaret River Main Break and the slabbing death barrels of The Box, but it is also the last event before the mid-year cutoff, when the men’s and women’s tours will be cut down to 22 and 10 competitors, respectively. That means that dozens of competitors will be surfing for their professional lives this week in Margaret River.
Unfortunately, local boy, fan favorite, and current world number two Jack “Robbo” Robinson won’t be among those fighting for the win, as he pulled out of the event this week due to a knee injury sustained during the Bells Beach contest earlier this month.
This is a huge blow not only to Western Australia and surfing fans in general but also Robbo’s world title campaign. As we have mentioned a number of times this year, only the top five ranked surfers at the end of the season get the opportunity to fight for the world title at the champions event at Lower Trestles in September. While Robbo has already clinched his spot on tour for the second half of the season, his high tour ranking is still vulnerable, and he can’t afford to miss more than an event or two before he is overtaken and pushed out of the top five.
This injury comes at an incredibly inopportune time for Robinson, as he was the odds-on favorite to win the fifth event of the year coming into his home break of Margaret River.
No one knows the waves in the area better than Robbo, and he is undoubtedly the best in the world at the treacherous slab known as The Box. With Robinson out, the door is open for John John Florence to make his move. A multiple-time winner at Margaret River in the past, Florence could feasibly jump into the top five with his first win this year. Considering his past performances at big Main Break, where his rail game is a level above everyone else on tour, you’d have to think that he’s now the favorite for the win (with the local boy out of the draw).
Another guy to watch out for in Western Australia is Ethan Ewing👆. Fresh off a win at Bells Beach and carrying momentum, Ewing has the rail game necessary to tame the tricky, deep-water walls of Main Break and will be looking to consolidate his spot in the top five and climb the rankings, especially with Robbo out.
He will have to hold off fellow top-five surfers Joao Chianca, Felipe Toledo, and Griffin Colapinto if he wants to take the top spot coming into the second half of the year—and it is worth noting that Ewing, Robbo, Toledo, and Colapinto have all featured in the end-of-year world title showdown at least once in the past two years.
It is also interesting to note that all of the surfers in the top five coming into Margaret River are regular foots—a situation that seems likely to continue, considering that every winner since the event came back on tour in 2014 has been a regular foot (including Jack Robinson, Felipe Toledo, John John Florence twice, Sebastian Zeitz, Adriano de Souza, and Michel Bourez.
To further demonstrate the regular foot advantage at Margaret River, all of the second-place finishers there over the past 10 years have been regular foots as well (including Josh Kerr, Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino twice, and John John Florence twice). If history tells us anything, it’s that we should expect to see two regular foot surfers in the final once again, and that one of them should be John John Florence, who has made four of the last six finals in Western Australia.
On the women’s side of the drawn, Tatiana Weston-Webb is the only goofy foot to have made the final at Margaret River in the past 10 years, placing second in 2019 and winning in 2021. Considering the fact that she is currently sitting in fifth place, she has as good a chance as any woman on tour to enter the back half of the season in the top five.
On the other side of the coin, tour veteran and GOAT Kelly Slater finds himself in desperate need of a result at Margaret River. He is currently rated 26th and needs to climb back into 22nd place in order to avoid being cut after this event. Considering the fact that Margaret River is one of the few events that he has never found a way to win during his storied career, this may prove to be a challenge.
Regardless of what happens this week in Western Australia, it will certainly be an exciting event with a number of interesting subplots related to qualification and the world title race. We can’t wait for it to get started!
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