Seabass grabbing opportunity by the rails

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Since being given the opportunity, Sebastian Zietz is enjoying a fair amount of success as an outsider on this year’s Championship Tour. Though not a full-time participant for the first time since 2012, Zietz has received a wild card into the season’s first three contests and is doing all he can to get his spot back in 2017.

The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro may get back in the water this afternoon and Zietz will be among the 12 remaining participants, assuring himself a top-nine result for the second time this year. He has a great chance to move on if they get some of those clean overhead faces that highlighted some of the weekend’s early action.

This was supposed to be a workmanlike season for Seabass, who had eyed a full-time charge at the Qualifying Series to regain a CT slot. But some others’ misfortune has been his opportunity and if he continues picking up results, he’ll almost certainly be the first name to get the call for any injury replacement spots the rest of the season.

Though a wild card, he’s been a standout at this final leg down under in Western Australia. He knocked out Keanu Asing in round two and then had a brilliant heat against Jeremy Flores, who actually conceded the win with a handshake in the water before one final set wave almost turned the tables in the closing seconds. But Zietz took down the former Pipe Master to move into a round four elimination heat against Caio Ibelli and Italo Ferreira.

Last season was a tough one, though Zietz’s surfing was still world class. He had some unlucky moments, a brutal interference call and could never really get any momentum going. But he has obviously remained prepared and the results are showing early on, so hopefully these opportunities continue.

On the women’s side, Tatiana Weston-Webb is into the quarterfinals for the third time in three events as she continues to nudge her way into that prestigious top five. She had to sweat a scrappy heat with Nikki Van Dijk in round four, but she watched the Aussie native come unstuck on her final maneuver in the last minute to maintain the narrow lead. Tati now faces Sally Fitzgibbons in the quarters.

The pair faced off in a third-round non-elimination heat with Fitzgibbons fairly dominant against both Tati and Laura Enever. Fitzgibbons is so good in any conditions and Weston-Webb will need to be showing something radical and truly committed to pull the upset. Despite the great results to this point, this would be her biggest heat win of the season if she’s able to come through.

Malia Manuel will probably be happy to move beyond Australia after that brutal loss to Stephanie Gilmore at Bells and now a late defeat at the hands of Enever in round four at Margies. But Manuel was a quarterfinalist at last year’s Oi Rio Pro, which is next up on the docket.

Both Seabass and Tati have opportunities to leave Australia with a great sense of accomplishment, setting the stage for a hopefully memorable and satisfying 2016.


David Simon can be reached at


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