AUSTRALIAN Tyler Wright and Hawaiian John John Florence started the year as world champions but can they defend the top honour in their sport?
2017 brings a new flush of surfer onto the world tour, including numerous young Australians.
It also sees the return of a number of old favourites with Mick Fanning back from a sabbatical and Owen Wright returning from a traumatic year out with injury.
On the women’s side, Sally Fitzgibbons and Courtney Conlogue lead a classy pack of surfers chasing maiden world crowns.
Six-time champion Stephanie Gilmore and three-time winner Carissa Moore are also back and both boast the experience and moves to add to their individual hauls.
In the men’s field Kelly Slater has his eye on a 12th world crown, Mick Fanning on a fourth and Joel Parkinson and Florence a second.
Our guide to the stars, underdogs, draw and latest news in the chase for the 2017 world crown of surfing.
ROUND ONE: Quiksilver and Roxy Pros
You could not have written the script for round one of the WSL at Snapper Rocks.
Tyler Wright bowed out early and Stephanie Gilmore claimed her sixth Roxy Pro crown with her victory over American Lakey Peterson. FULL STORY HERE
Owen Wright then completed a fairytale comeback from his brain injury to win the Quiksilver Pro. FULL STORY HERE
Defending Quiksilver Pro champ Matt Wilkinson finished second. But he played a big role in Owen Wright’s comeback. FULL STORY HERE
Earlier in the week the world’s top surfers walked the red carpet at the WSL: Awards. And boy did they do it in style. FULL STORY HERE
ROUND TWO: Drug Aware Margaret River Pro
She waited a long time for it but finally sally Fitzgibbons surfed her way back into the winners cricle with a great win at the Margaret River Pro. FULL STORY HERE
Young Aussie surfer Jack Freestone the last man left standing in the Margaret River Pro as world champion John John Florence claims first win of the season. FULL STORY HERE
He’s chasing a 12th world crown but many believe Kelly Slater will call it quites at the end of tebn seaosn. But what does the man himself say about it all?
The World Surf League, or WSL, was formerly known as the ASP World Tour.
The series is used to determine the men’s and women’s world champions of surfing each year.
The best male surfers compete in 11 events and the women in 10 events across the season and accrue points at each event.
The best eight results count towards their cumulative score which determines the world rankings and the world championship race.
TV IN AUSTRALIA
TV coverage: Fox
Australian surfers dominate the 2017 World Surf league start lists.
There are seven Australians on the 17-strong WSL women’s tour.
There are 12 men on the 34-strong men’s tour.
The Australian surfers on the women’s WSL tour are Tyler Wright, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Laura Enever, Nikki Van Dijk, Keely Andrew, Bronte Macaulay.
The Australian surfers on the men’s WSL tour are Matt Wilkinson, Julian Wilson, Joel Parkinson, Owen Wright, Josh Kerr, Adrian Buchan, Mick Fanning, Stu Kennedy, Connor O’Leary, Ethan Ewing, Bede Durbidge, Jack Freestone.
HOW TO BECOME A WORLD CHAMPION
Surfers are ranked according to their results during a season. The surfer with the top ranking at the season end is declared the world champion.
Entering 2017 the initial results are based on the rankings at the end of 2016.
The top 10 from last year automatically requalify for this year’s tour. The remainder are determined by accrued points from various events.
Top 10 women at the start of 2017: 1. Tyler Wright AUS. 2. Courtney Conlogue USA, 3. Carissa Moore HAW, 4. Tatiana Weston-Webb HAW, 5. Johanne Defay FRA, 6. Stephanie Gilmore AUS, 7. Malia Manuel HAW, 8. Sally Fitzgibbons AUS, 9. Sage Erickson USA, 10. Laura Enever AUS.
Top 10 men at the start of 2017: 1. John John Florence HAW, 2. Jordy Smith ZAF, 3. Gabriel Medina BRA, 4. Kolohe Andino USA, 5. Matt Wilkinson AUS, 6. Michel Bourez PYF, 7. Kelly Slater USA, 8. Julian Wilson AUS, 9. Joel Parkinson AUS, 10. Filipe Toledo BRA.
Tyler Wright won five events on her way to a maiden world crown in 2016.
So the odds are she can match – if not exceed – this extraordinary feat this year.
Wright says she is has plenty of room to improve and that’s her goal for 2017.
THE SIX TIME WORLD CHAMPION
Six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore is gunning for a place in history this year.
Gilmore can match the extraordinary record of Layne Beachley in winning seven world titles if she surfs at her best in 2017.
There are many forecasting a seventh world tile is on the cards for the Snapper Rocks local who admits she is one of the most competitive people around.
She has certainly started the year well, winning the Roxy Pro, a lucky charm for previous winners who have gone on to win world titles.
THE RETURNING CHAMPION
Mick Fanning is back, baby. After a well deserved sabbatical from the sport, Fanning has recommitted to do the entire championship tour in 2017. And we can’t wait.
It just didn’t seem right not to have Fanning in the mix at major events last season.
Fanning says he’s going to give it his all and even Kelly Slater says Fanning must be seen as one of the big contenders for the 2017 trophy.
Keely Andrew, who deferred a university degree in sport psychology to pursue a dream, was named Rookie of the Year in 2016 and is expected to make a big mark this year.
Also hoping to stir things up is rookie Bronte Macaulay who is the daughter of former pro surfer Dave and capable of causing an upset or two of her own.
A newcomer to the world tour is Aussie teenager Ethan Ewing who has been called the ‘real deal’ by former world champion Joel Parkinson. He won the world junior crown in January and is being tipped to make a name for himself quickly in 2017.
Mar 14-25: Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro Gold Coast. MEN AND WOMEN
Mar 29 to Apr 9: Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.MEN AND WOMEN
Apr 12-24: Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. MEN AND WOMEN
May 9-20: Rio Pro. MEN AND WOMEN
Jun 4-16: Fiji Pro. MEN AND WOMEN
Jul 31-Aug 6: Vans US Open of Surfing. WOMEN
Jul 12-23: Corona J-Bay Open. MEN
Aug 11-22: Billabong Pro Tahiti. MEN
Sep 6-17: Hurley Pro, Swatch Pro at Trestles. MEN AND WOMEN
Sep 27-Oct 5 (tentative) Cascais Women’s Pro. WOMEN
Oct 7-18: Quiksilver Pro, Roxy Pro France. MEN AND WOMEN
Oct 20-31: MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. MEN
Nov 25-Dec 6: Maui Women’s Pro. WOMEN
Dec 8-20: Billabong Pipe Masters. MEN
LIST OF WORLD SURFING CHAMPIONS
2016 John John Florence (Haw) Tyler Wright (AUS)
2015 Adriano de Souza (BRA) Carissa Moore (HAW).
2014 Gabriel Medina (BRA) Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2013 Mick Fanning Carissa Moore (HAW)
2012 Joel Parkinson (AUS) Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2011 Kelly Slater (USA) Carissa Moore (HAW)
2010 Kelly Slater (USA) Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2009 Mick Fanning (AUS), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2008 Kelly Slater (USA) Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2007 Mick Fanning (AUS) Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2006 Kelly Slater (USA) Layne Beachley (AUS)
2005 Kelly Slater (USA) Chelsea Georgeson (AUS).
2004 Andy Irons (HAW) Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
2003 Andy Irons (HAW) Layne Beachley (AUS)
2002 Andy Irons (HAW) Layne Beachley  (AUS)
2001 C. J. Hobgood (USA) Layne Beachley 
2000 Sunny Garcia (HAW) Layne Beachley  (AUS)
1999 Mark Occhilupo (AUS) Layne Beachley  (AUS)
1998 Kelly Slater  (USA) Layne Beachley (AUS)
1997 Kelly Slater  (USA Lisa Andersen (USA)
1996 Kelly Slater  (USA) Lisa Andersen (USA)
1995 Kelly Slater  (USA) Lisa Andersen  (USA)
1994 Kelly Slater  (USA) Lisa Andersen (USA)
1993 Derek Ho (HAW) Pauline Menczer (AUS)
1992 Kelly Slater (USA) Wendy Botha  (AUS)
1991 Damien Hardman  (AUS) Wendy Botha  (AUS)
1990 Tom Curren  (USA) Pam Burridge (AUS)
1989 Martin Potter (UK) Wendy Botha  (AUS)
1988 Barton Lynch (AUS) Freida Zamba  (USA)
1987/88 Damien Hardman (AUS) Wendy Botha (RSA
1986/87 Tom Curren  (USA) Freida Zamba  (USA)
1985/86 Tom Curren (USA) Freida Zamba  (USA)
1984/85 Tom Carroll (AUS Freida Zamba (USA)
1983/84 Tom Carroll (AUS) Kim Mearig (USA)
IPS World Circuit
1982 Mark Richards  (AUS) Debbie Beacham (USA)
1981 Mark Richards  (AUS) Margo Oberg (HAW)
Originally published as World surf race: Who has hit the lead
SOURCE: newsnow sport