Senior Editor
Staff

The Inertia

She’s been compared to Steph Gilmore. But Caity Simmers is her own surfer completely – one who mixes power and style in a way that has quite possibly never been seen before on the Championship Tour. The 16-year-old qualified for the WSL’s top tier last year, helped by a win at the US Open, but said “no thanks.” She wanted to wait another season – at least.

She recently told me that she didn’t want to rush it. She just wanted to be a kid and didn’t care if she had to re-qualify. Well, she went a long ways towards re-qualifying yesterday when she won the Gold Coast Pro, taking out Molly Picklum in the final as the WSL opened its Challenger Series for the 2022 campaign.

“I’ve just been enjoying being in Australia,” Caity said after in her typical steady approach. “It’s been cool to have my family here. And shout out to my brother (who was caddying). He just keeps things less serious and keeps it fun. It’s been a fun time in Australia.”

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When Ronnie Blakey asked her afterwards if she would take up her spot on the CT in 2023 if she were to qualify, she was non-committal. “I don’t know, potentially,” she said. “We’ll see what happens.” She obviously sits atop the rankings now.

On the men’s side Callum Robson surfed out of his head, taking his own spot atop the CS rankings when he defeated Sheldon Simkus. “I don’t really know how to feel,” said an exhausted Robson after. The man surfed four heats at an unruly Snapper Rocks. “My legs are cooked,” he said. “Such a big day. It was an epic comp and an amazing event.”

The unsponsored Robson has a pretty epic story, to say the least. The community he grew up in, Evans Head, NSW, has raised the funds to support Robson’s mission to qualify for the CT (it ain’t cheap). “The community support that I have is a massive part of who I am and my story,” he said. “I’m proud to be from Evans Head and they continue to support me.”

Checking in on CT surfers who were relegated to Snapper after the cut, Conner Coffin lost to Simkus in the quarterfinals while Leonardo Fioravanti went down to Nolan Rapoza in the same round. Morgan Cibilic, who of course surfed in last year’s WSL finals, bowed out to Dylan Moffat in the Round of 16 and Zeke Lau lost to Leo.

On the women’s side, Bettylou Sakura Johnson and Sally Fitzgibbons (who secured a 2023 wildcard) both lost in the semis. Bronte Macaulay went down in the quarters. The Challenger Series standings will be an interesting watch as we move forward. Next up on the CS? The Sydney Surf Pro next week.

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