"I have renamed this feature. It’s my party and I can do what I want. Power, it sounds so masculine! So definitive! And I am neither of those things."
Welcome back to the Women’s Power Rankings. BeachGrit official!
I have renamed this feature. It’s my party and I can do what I want.
Power, it sounds so masculine! So definitive! And I am neither of those things.
WTF also captures the chaos of this particular CT season so far. Sunset upended the rankings in so many surprising ways. I’m not sure it’s my favorite ever CT event, but I don’t hate it. If it happens again next year, I will not be sad.
One thing I did like, is the way the Sunset lineup exposed the one-trick wonders. Quite a few women wanted to fit their usual turns into the unruly Sunset lineup. It did not work super great.
Lots of the rookies found more success than usual, maybe because they came to the whole thing without a lot of preconceptions. Just surf some waves. So simple.
Next up, it’s beach break time in Portugal. It is cold. The contest is mobile with multiple breaks and wind directions. Apparently, there are lefts. Not my favorite! But I am not trying to win a world title, fortunately.
To the rankings!
18. (-4) Moana Jones Wong
She’s still surfing’s new It Girl, but she didn’t make her heats at Sunset. No one should be given a free pass to the CT on the basis of a single result, no matter how badass that result is. This is my firm stance. With Vahine Fierro rippin’ it up in Tahiti, a wildcard for Teahupo’o isn’t assured for Moana. I hope she gets fired the fuck up, hits the QS, and destroys. If she does have what it takes, it will be very fun to see her on Tour. But she needs the results to back it.
17. (-6) Bronte McCaulay
I gave Bronte an overly optimistic billing last time, and she promptly went out in round two. To be fair, she was fresh off the plane with almost no time in the Sunset lineup. I got carried away by the clips I’ve seen of her in heavy surf out there in West Australia. This, my friends, is why I do not bet on surfing. Bronte returns as a wildcard for Portugal. The WSL gave her the nod after her contest season was interrupted by travel restrictions and family tragedy. The lefts in Portugal should favor her and I’d expect her to move on up the rankings real soon here.
16. (-14) Steph Gilmore
At her best, Steph is still a lovely surfer. But these days, she has trouble with the grindy heats, the heats where the waves aren’t super perfect. Steph doesn’t like to surf bad waves. I mean, honestly, who does? But that makes it hard to be a successful contest surfer, since you have to surf the waves you’re given. Drifting around the lineup, looking for waves that aren’t there, well, that isn’t going to win a contest. Steph spent a lot of time drifting at Sunset and not much time surfing. She lost her round one, squeaked through round two, then went out in three. Not exactly a world champion trajectory. Time to grind, Steph.
15. (-7) Courtney Conlogue
This was definitely not the Hawaii campaign Courtney hoped to have. She trains her ass off and might be the most jacked woman on Tour. Respect. I like how fearless Courtney can be. She’ll go for the gnarly section every time. She just needs to make them more often. Easier said than done. She nailed a solid two-turn combo for a nine in her opening heat at Sunset. In fact, she might have had one of the highest heat totals of round one, but she couldn’t keep it rolling. Consistency is her weakness and it sent her home early in Hawaii.
14. (-8) Tati West
After her high finish last year, I expected Tati to come out swinging in these early events. Also, she grew up in Kauai. Surely, she learned something there. Nope. She went down in round three to Luana Silva. I can’t say I remember much about her Sunset heats at all, but her Pipe surfing was… not great. Portugal should go better for her.
13. (+0) Sally Fitzgibbons
Regardless of sport, some athletes benefitted from the Covid break, but many didn’t. I’d put Sal in the second group, and I’m not entirely sure why. I do know she put a priority on airs in recent years, and has put in many hours in onshore crap working on them. It’s hard to be good at everything at once, and that may explain her underwhelming Hawaii performances. If she wants to make the midyear cut, Sal has work to do.
12. (+0) Isabella Nichols
I really liked Isabella’s surfing last year. She’s stylish and dynamic. But it’s possible her skillset is tuned for beach breaks and not much more. We’ll find out soon enough. Certainly, she wasn’t super at Sunset, and she had one legit high-scoring barrel at backdoor. She’ll need more than that to stay on Tour. Isabella’s currently safe from the midyear cut, but there’s some talented women hot on her heels.
11. (-6) Lakey Peterson
Back at Pipe, Lakey made the semis. It should not have been surprising. She does her homework, and her Backdoor surfing looked alright. Honestly, I expected more from her at Sunset. It’s a right. She has plenty of power. What could go wrong? Lakey’s weakness is her reliance on her one turn. When it works, the judges love it. She’s fast, she can connect many, many turns given the right wave. But Sunset didn’t cooperate. And Lakey didn’t really have an alternate plan. She went down in round three to Bettylou Sakura Johnson.
10. (+8) India Robinson
I’ll confess I didn’t know where to put India in these rankings last time around. So I put her last. Oops. Her powerful surfing matched Sunset well, and she sent Sal home after scoring a pair of sevens. In the quarters, India couldn’t keep it rolling against local girl Bettylou, who’s pretty obviously a future world champ in the making. Still, a solid performance from India, and Margaret River should suit her well, too.
9. (-6) Tyler Wright
After making the semis at Pipe, Tyler went out in round three at Sunset. I don’t understand anything. Tyler won Sunset as a wildcard. Sure, I thought, she can do well there. Like Lakey, she kept trying to fit her signature turn into a wave that just wasn’t having it. Girl, you can do more than a layback. I know you can. Get creative!
8. (+9) Luana Silva
I badly underestimated Luana, a local girl who has surfed Sunset many, many times. Sometimes, I am stupid. In her quarterfinal heat against Gabriela Bryan, Luana scored a 8.83. Too bad she couldn’t back it. Luana leaves Hawaii with a ninth and a fifth. She’s sitting just above the midyear cutline with a horde of other women. A good result in Portugal will help her cause, and I would not bet against her getting it. I’m stupid, but apparently still capable of learning!
7. (+9) Molly Picklum
After Caity Simmers turned down her CT spot, Molly got a late call-up. She didn’t have a ton of time to learn the lineups in Hawaii, but she charged anyway. I like her style. At Sunset, she took down Carissa Moore by going on bigger waves. That’s it. Sometimes, simplicity works best. Molly lost to eventual winner Brisa Hennessey in the quarters. She’s close to cutline — like everyone else, really — and probably wishes that Pipe result was better. I watched her on the Challenger Series, but fuck if I can remember how her backhand is. I’d expect her to go well at Margaret River, though, easy.
6. (+3) Johanne Defay
Leaving Hawaii with a pair of quarterfinal finishes is a solid start for Johanne. Consistency is one of her strengths, making Johanne basically the opposite of Courtney. At Sunset, she lost to Malia Manuel, who was on a heater surfing at home. No shame for Johanne there. She’s headed home to Europe and beach break surfing suits her. Also, she gets to go left. Johanne should move up the rankings here after Portugal, but you know how well my predictions turn out. Spoiler! Not super good!
5. (-5) Carissa Moore
I’ll confess I didn’t really know where to put Carissa in the rankings this time around. In the actual not-WTF rankings, she sits fourth behind Brisa, Malia, and Moana. Carissa finished second at Pipe to Moana. Sure, she wanted to win, but second to the local specialist is not too shabby. But her performance at Sunset, a wave that should suit her, was underwhelming. Carissa lost to Molly with an 11-point heat score. That was a winnable heat for Carissa, but her wave choice looked super sus. The judges rightly rewarded Molly for charging on bigger waves. It’s been a minute since Carissa went home in round three. She’s still in the top five, but she needs to go to work if she wants to stay there.
4. (+6) Gabriela Bryan
Watching Gabriela Bryan take down Steph in round three gave me so much joy. Not because I have any hate for Steph. Quite the opposite, I’m a Steph fan, for sure. Instead, it was the fearless exuberance Gabriela brought to the thing. She just fucking went for it. She got smashed in a section, went back out, got another wave. I love the competitive fire Gabriela brings to her heats. And, she’s got power to burn. One of the unpredictable and talented rookies on Tour, Gabriela could well go far this year.
3. (+1) Bettylou Sakura Johnson
I expected Bettylou to do well at Sunset, and she did not disappoint. She took down Lakey in round three by working with the wave, rather than against it. On paper, I would have expected her to beat Brisa in the semis. Turn for turn, Bettylou looked better, but she didn’t pick waves where she could really open up. Lots of getting smashed in closeouts for her in that heat, which is not exactly a winning strategy. All the same, for the women looking to move up the rankings, I’d expect Bettylou to be difficult to dislodge.
2. (+4) Malia Manuel
What a bittersweet result for Malia. She’s made seven finals and never yet won an event. But her surfing in Hawaii was so good. A quarterfinal finish at Pipe and a final at Sunset. I thought I was rating her too highly ahead of Sunset and I am super happy to be proved wrong. After Sunset, she posted a photo of her dad surfing Sunset. They share a similar stance, which is lovely. Malia picked up one of the year-long wildcards and it’s nice to see her making the most of it.
1. (+15) Brisa Hennessey
I really need to get out of the habit of underrating Brisa. I ranked her way down in fifteenth last time. Eesh. In my own defense, she fell off Tour last year and had to hit the Challenger Series to requalify. Well. She is certainly storming it this season, so far. At Sunset, she won her first ever CT event. She also made quarters at Pipe. She leaves Hawaii as the world number one. Brisa, good at surfing. Got it.