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What a time to be alive! The World Surf League is in disarray, but a shake-up or a subtle recalibration might be needed to get the tour to where it should be, in the eyes of the athletes and spectators.

While we don’t want to tread along that oft-walked path of WSL-based negativity, it is necessary in this case because the recent results and discontent in the system are going to do one thing for sure - it is going to light up some passions of surfers who might feel they are getting a raw deal. We have the three Brazilian world champs and their indignation on one side. However, if Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, and Filipe Toledo turn their anger into strength, they will be formidable.

Equally, Griffin Colapinto and Ethan Ewing are getting unfairly lambasted, and they, too, could use this energy into positivity and a desire for vindication. Finally, Jack Robinson must be smarting from his early round loss at the Surf Ranch and desperate to climb back onto the top of the world.

Either way, the right-hand point-break waves of Punta Roca are sure to experience an onslaught of some of the top surfers in the world surfing with points to prove. But, of course, from a spectator’s point of view, this is precisely what we all want to see.

Griffin Colapinto
5.50 - 6.00

With a win at the Surf Ranch and at this event last year, the number-one-rated surfer on the World Tour rankings has got everybody watching him. He is the surfer most likely to get an excellent result in El Salvador. His genial nature goes awry when he gets going on a wave, and he has a full arsenal of moves to beat the best. His climb to the top has been measured and controlled and is part of a successive plan that is coming to fruition over the last few years. In an interview on the Red Bull website earlier this year he stated that his goals for the year were to ‘“qualify for the Olympics, make the top five, win the world title, and win three CT events.”

Nothing is currently lacking in his game, although he has yet to be tested in combative hassling, which could easily happen. As we get to know Griff more, it might be no surprise to see him putting a shoulder back into anyone who tries to hassle him too hard.

Filipe Toledo
5.00 - 5.50

Filipe has proven that he has the waves of Punta Roca under control, and his loss to Griffin last year was only by one point in a highly-charged final. He got the highest score of the finals with a near-perfect 9.57 and is undoubtedly charged up to do well and to show the world that he has it in him to get to the top of the rankings. Currently placed third, he is surfing as fast and dynamic as ever, and if he finds his two waves every heat, he will be heading for the final without a doubt.

Ethan Ewing

Smooth and fast, Ethan has come into his own this season and is starting to look like a world title contender more and more. However, his chagrin after being called out for beating Italo in the quarters of the Surf Ranch event must make him determined to prove a point. It is, after all, not his fault that he beat Italo, as he doesn’t write down the score, but the fans decided to scapegoat him in public to vent their anger at the judges. He has the perfect style for Punta Roca and, dare we say it, exudes flow, which is what the judges were looking for at the pool. However, Punta Roca is a different beast, with sections and wobbles that open it to more high-risk moves and innovation, which he also has in buckets. Currently 4th in the world, this event is his to lose.

Italo Ferreira
12.5 - 15.0

For some reason, Italo Ferreira is not currying much favour from the Championship Tour judges, as well as from sports fans and spectators around the world. Some might say that his almost frantic style of fitting in as many explosive moves as possible on each and every wave collides with the flow, and the judges have been observing and scoring on flow. It might be more than that. His indignation and outspokenness about the current system are making him come across, at times, as a sore loser. Still, on an open playing field like Punta Roca, the 11th-placed surfer could utterly destroy the field and show the world why he won his world title and what he is still packing. Being backhand on a right-hand -point-break has no negatives for one of the best goofy footers of the current generation.

Gabriel Medina
6.50 - 7.00

The world loves Gabriel Medina, and that general vibe has grown over the last few years. His outburst after the recent event has done little to sour this, as the world currently listens to the 6th-placed surfer. His passion and love for competitive surfing are apparent, but now that he has voiced his opinion on unfairness after making so many finals this year, he doesn’t have the best look. He will need to kick in at this event, possibly bettering his third-place finish at Punta Roca last year. He lost by .13 of a point to Griffin in the semis and will need to do something similar or better to show that his discontent is justified. However, Gabby has it all, including flow, so he could easily win the event.

Jack Robinson

Notorious for currently being one of the best surfers on the planet when the waves get big and unruly, Jack Robinson had an abysmal showing at the Surf Ranch and will want to bank a top-five finish at this tournament. While his exceptional talent is definitely in the bigger reef break surf, he can also contest any other break, as last year when he won the Margaret River Pro and the Quiksilver G-land Pro back to back. One being big rights and the other being small lefts. He also was victorious at the Billabong Pro Pipeline this year and will be hungry for his second win of the year. Currently 5th in the world, he will need to bank a good result here to stay with the top 5 crop.


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