Newcastle. Australia’s Detroit. This working-class city is home to some of the world’s toughest competitors ever – Mark Richards, Luke Egan and Matt Hoy. The waves around this place can be dreamy or deadly. Big shifting beach breaks, rocky point outcrops, rip bowl nuggets. The place can throw everything at you. Maybe that’s why so many well-rounded surfers come out of here. With the WSL hitting Newy for the first time in living memory as a World Tour event, things are going to get lively. There could be solid rippable rights at Merewether. There could be piddly little peaks at Pogo’s. The picks of the day will be crew who can excel in just about anything, plus a few local lords who know the vagaries of the waves. There might even be some lightning energy from pent-up quarantine warriors. 

With that in mind, here’s your fantasy surfer guide for Newcastle. Or the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented (quite ironically) by Corona…


You’d think Tier A would be easy with only 3 surfers to pick from in the women’s. Then you dig a little deeper and realise you’ve got the reigning world champ, the current world number one, and the surfer who has won Newcastle as a QS more times than anyone in the last 5 years. Carissa. Tyler. Sally.

So, who to choose? I’m going to throw a big hail Mary and cut Carissa out from the start. Crazy? Absolutely. But before you cart me off to the loony bin, here’s my reasoning. Carissa hasn’t featured in any quarters or better at Newcastle in half a decade. Not because she surfs bad here, but because she just hasn’t shown up. That lack of local knowledge has to count for something. Then you’ve got Tyler who’s made finals here and is in epic form. I’m going with that current form to throw her in as my power surfer. That’s a hard pick over Sally, who obviously does well at Newcastle. If the swell forecast ends up being small, I’ll probably even sub her in. 4ft+ though and it’s Tyler all the way.

In: Tyler
Back up: Sally
Out: Carissa?


There will be a pretty consistent theme for me this year in Tier A for the mens. Two terminators on tour are just too hard to beat. Those surfing cyborgs are Gabby and John John. Gabby continues to be the contest machine of the new age, who can rip himself out of a combo in 2 waves flat. Double John is world number one lord of the life aquatic. Combined it’s pretty hard to go past them. The exception there is Italo because of his corn row lustre right now. If anyone’s going to throw down a groundbreaking freestyle at Aussie’s Detroit, it’s that guy. Jordy is another if Merewether rights start pumping, so have your finger trigger ready to slide him in last minute. Easy leaves for me are Leo and Jeremy, who are up in Tier A because of their Pipe prowess, but don’t cut it in fickle beachies against the world’s ultra-elite. 

In: Gabby (power surfer), Double John
Back up: Italo and Jordy
Out: Leo and Jeremy


There isn’t a single surfer in this tier who I don’t want to choose. Seriously. They could all surprise and pack a podium come finals day. There are some options more obvious than others though. Steph Gilmore has surfed Newcastle more than most in this tier and with 7 world titles behind her has to be on the squad. You also have Lakey Peterson whose general attack is more well-rounded than a Balinese bangle. They’re my gut picks.

Reasoning out a little more and Malia Manuel is a solid option. She’s made a swag of final series here and knows the waves. There’s also Sage Erickson, whose beach break game is pretty incredible. Courtney Conlogue will be a rage of energy after quarantine and could burst out of her hotel like Charlie Chaplin on smack (same initials too, corn chips).

The final one I’d take a serious look at is Johanne Defay. She’s a real contender this year and, given she often flies under the radar, could be a great pick for those who like to field a different team to their fellow competitors. She also won Newcaste as a QS back in 2017.

In: Steph and Lakey
Back up: Malia and Johanne
Out: Maybe Nikki Van-D


Being in this tier is like being a millennial kid in a lolly shop. 20 cents used to buy a whole mixed bag, but now you’ve got to split the fizz-wizz from the chewy jubes. In the fizz wizz section you have beachy maestros like Filipe. Anyone who leaves him out probably likes black jelly beans. There’s also Julian Wilson, who could offer more fizz than wizz, but won the Newy QS last year and is still easily one of the best in the world on his day. Griffin Colapinto is another who continues to shine and, after the North Shore season he had, is someone sure to be in good form. Kolohe Andino could be another solid pick, but only if you want him to come second.

If there’s one definite pick in our Fantasy Surfer Guide Newcastle, for me, it’s local lord R-Call that gets the nod here instead. He got 2nd in the QS here last year and knows Newy better than a punching bag knows fists. Seth and Wade also have to be considered, with attacks that often throw massive scores in punchy waves. Caio Ibelli could be another in this zone who might surprise, plus Yago won this event in 2017 with a perfect 10 in the final.

Lastly, I’d have to say Jack Robbo and Matthew McGillivray are my leave outs. Sure they’re good, but are simply outclassed here and aren’t in their specialist territory. 

In: Fil, R-Cal, Griffin, Julian
Back up: Kolohe, Seth, Wade
Out: McGillivray and Bowl Cut 


While the other tiers have been tricky picks for our Fantasy Surfer Guide Newcastle, this one is easy for me. Bronte Macaulay gets the defending champ stamp of approval. She’s ultra-consistent at Newcastle and even though those past events were QS’s, no one else in this tier has been in the CT top 5 before. Get her in.

Macy Callaghan, Isabella Nichols and Kelly Andrew have all been lurking in semi finishes so could be an option too. However, it’s the Costa Rican Rocket Brisa Hennessy who’d be my back up. She’s great in just about anything and is ultra spritely at 1ft to 6ft. If you’re wanting to run a dark horse option, she’s that pick. 

In: Bronte
Back up: Brisa
Out: Philippa Anderson


How good is Tier C during the 2nd event of the year?! There’s always a couple of heavy hitters who stunk up event one and will shortly redeem themselves. That brings me to my obvious picks for the bottom tier – the Wright Brothers. Owen didn’t show up for Pipe, so for a top 10 talent to be sitting this low is simply a no-brainer. Throw in brother Mikey, who has won Newcastle as a QS before (and will be stinging to show he belongs on tour) and you’ve got my two team members.

Rather than say that’s all she Wright, I also should point out that Ethan Ewing has being tearrrrrrring lately, plus you’ve got Fingers Morais back on the CT tickle. Connor O’Leary is another great option, while Adriano De Souza still has some world champ sizzle in his back pocket somewhere. If it’s solid Mereweather, then Conner Coffin could even do a Bells impression and ring up plenty of scalps over Easter.

Two names you might be tempted to put in but I think could be fools gold are Morgan Cibilic (who’s a local at Newy, but isn’t quite blooded enough to make my team) and Ace Buchan, who is from just down the road but doesn’t feel like he’s up to smoking the young bucks this year. Time will tell there, but, no matter what, pick ‘em, stick with ‘em and get ready to go. And that wraps up your Fantasy Surfer Guide Newcastle picks…

In: The Wrights
Back Ups: Fingers and Ewing
Out: Cibilic and Ace


WSL Fantasy Surfer Team Layout Newcastle