Competitors are now making their way to one of the most critical events of the season, the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 5 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT). This is the last event before the highly-anticipated Mid-season Cut, and results here will be vital in determining the future of many surfers’ careers.
Pictured: The Western Australia Margaret River Pro holds a competition window from April 20-30, 2023. Credit: © WSL / Hughes
The 2023 CT is already approaching the halfway point with the world’s best surfers having competed at events in Hawaii, Portugal, and Australia. The first four events of the season witnessed a mix of World Champions and Tour newcomers take home the win. World Champions Carissa Moore (HAW), Filipe Toledo (BRA), and Tyler Wright (AUS) have each earned a win so far, proving they are still the ones to beat. Jack Robinson (AUS), Molly Picklum (AUS), Joao Chianca (BRA), Caitlin Simmers (USA), and Ethan Ewing (AUS) have also achieved notable wins and emerged as 2023 World Title threats.
With plenty more spots above the Mid-season Cut still left unclaimed, it will all come down to Margaret River to determine who continues through the back half of the season and has a shot at the 2023 World Titles.
Molly Picklum and Joao Chianca Lead Rankings Going into Stop No. 5
Current World No. 1s Molly Picklum (AUS) and Joao Chianca (BRA) are having breakthrough years after falling off Tour following Margaret River last season. This will be Picklum’s fourth event in a row wearing the yellow Leader jersey, while Chianca will don it for the first time. Both have already been confirmed to make the Cut and will turn their focus to making the Final 5, having a shot at winning their maiden World Titles and qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The Race is On for Remaining Spots Above the Mid-season Cut
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro is the last competition before the Mid-season Cut, where surfers below 22nd on the men’s rankings and below 10th on the women’s rankings will be taken off the CT and will need to begin the process of requalifying through the Challenger Series. With the top 11 surfers confirmed to have made the Cut on the men’s side, and the top 3 confirmed on the women’s side, there are still many spots up for grabs going into Margaret River. 11X World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) currently sit right below the Cut line, tied for 26th. Australians and Tour newcomers Liam O’Brien and Jackson Baker are precariously posted just above the Cut line. 2022 Final 5 competitor Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) moved up seven spots on the rankings thanks to a solid performance at Bells Beach. He now hopes to further secure his place above the Cut in order to have a shot at the Final 5 and World Title once again. On the women’s side, many of the young guard are currently sitting high on the rankings while Tour veterans such as Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (USA), and Lakey Peterson (USA) will need to fight to make the Cut at Margaret River. Eight-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) finally got the result she needed at Bells and moved up five spots on the rankings, but she is not yet safe from falling off Tour. 2022 Final 5 competitor Brisa Hennessy (CRC) is in need of a big result as she is currently just below the Cut line. More available at WorldSurfLeague.com.