The Young Guard Makes Its Move in the Old World Joao Chianca and Caitlyn Simmers Take Out Rookie Wins in Portugal
The Young Guard Makes Its Move in the Old World
The Meo Portugal Pro finished yesterday, wrapping up the third event of the season, and what a start to the world tour it has been! With two events to go before the mid-year cut, five of the top 10 from last year are once again in the top 10 this year. But that’s where the similarities to 2022 end. In 2023, it’s the year of the young guns, with rookies making runs for the yellow jersey and hardened veterans on the cusp of getting cut.
After a spotty forecast that saw the event run in everything from heaving barrels to onshore junk, finals day saw competitors dueling it out in fickle but often perfect overhead barrels. The trick was choosing the diamonds from amongst the rough.
Tour leader Jack Robinson found himself in the final against rookie upstart Joao Chianca, who came into this event rated number three. Although Robbo had been the form surfer of the entire event, the final was all Chianca, who was completely in tune with the waves, finding four excellent or near excellent scores and comboing Robbo for most of the heat. It’s hard to know what felt better—getting spit out of a dozen barrels in 30 minutes or notching his first world tour event win.
Either way, Chianca worked his way up to second on the ratings, only a handful of points behind Robinson, who holds onto the yellow jersey as the tour head to his home country of Australia.
Over on the women’s side, Carissa Moore and Molly Picklum came into the third event tied for the yellow jersey. But after Carissa fell from the draw early, Molly moved into pole position, which she continued to hold even though she lost in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, it was yet another rookie who ended up taking out the event win, as 17-year-old Caitlyn Simmers won a hard-fought final against tour veteran Courtney Conlogue.
As the tour heads to Bells Beach, Jack Robinson leads the men’s rankings with 23,885 points. Close behind him is Joao Chianca at 22,170, then there’s a pretty big gap down to Felipe Toledo in third, Caio Ibelli in fourth, and Griffin Colapinto in fifth. On the women’s side, Molly Picklum leads with 19,490 points, with Carissa Moore and Caitlin Simmers tied for second at 17,355. Tyler Wright and Tatiana Weston-Webb round out the rankings in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Of course, the top five spots don’t really matter until the end of the year, when athletes will be vying for spots in the world championship event at Trestles. For now, the focus is on the mid-year cutoff, with big names like Kanoa Igarashi, Kelly Slater, Barron Mamiya, and Kolohe Andino all needing to do some work if they are to survive past the Australian leg. Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue, Lakey Peterson, and defending world champ Steph Gilmore are also all outside of the top 10 (which is the mid-season cutoff for the women), which means this has largely been the year of the younger generation. That being said, Bells and Margaret River are both events known for rewarding power surfing and fundamentals, so it will be interesting to see who survives coming out of Australia!
Bells kicks off on April 4. We will be watching, and hope that you will too!