By the end of the 2016 season at the recently concluded Pipe Masters, in the Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour, the Jeep LeaderBoard Rankings became final. 2017 Season is underway and the battle at Pipe sealed the fate of those who qualified for next year’s Championship Tour and for those who were knocked out of the list in a heartbreaking fashion.
But before everyone sets eyes on the upcoming 2017 season, it would be nice to pause for a moment and recall the greatest Jeep Leader Board jumps made in 2016. Some of the surfers who currently seat in the Top 20 have come from places far below the rankings and amazingly leaped up into the limelight.
Here are six noteworthy Jeep Leader Board Jumpers for 2016.
2016 Rank: 5th
2015 Rank: 18th
Moved 13 places up
Since 2010, Matt Wilkinson’s been finishing below the Top 20 from 24th, 20th, 24th, 22nd, 23rd; until he breached that barrier ranking 18th by the end of the 2015 season. But earlier this year, he won the first two events and has worn the yellow jersey for most of the year before John John Florence snatched it in Tahiti.
While Wilko seemed to have lost his momentum towards the latter part of the year, his solid performance early in the year landed him at the 5th place by the end of the 2016 season. He has finally breached the Top 10. Many are looking forward to Wilko’s return in the 2017 season. Will he finally win a World Title? Everything is set to unfold in the coming year.
For now, here is a replay of Matt Wilkinson’s victory at the 2016 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
John John Florence
2016 Rank: 1st
2015 Rank: 14th
Moved 13 places up
John John Florence had a roller coaster ride in the Championship Tour since 2011. From 34th, 4th, 10th, 3rd, 14th then now 1st place ranking for 2016, John had his share of ups and downs in the tour. This will be the second biggest ranking leap in his career.
2016 Rank: 12th
2015 Rank: 26th
Moved 14 places up
Sebastian Zietz “Seabass” did not make the cut for the 2016 Championship Tour after finishing 26th place in 2015. But a number of injuries opened a door for him to join the Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast. He’s had solid performances in the first two CT events and won the 3rd CT event at Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. He finished the year placing 12th, ensuring his 2017 Championship Tour qualification.
Seabass at the 2016 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Final:
2016 Rank: 6th
2015 Rank: 21st
Moved 15 places up
Michel has hit rock bottom last year. He started at rank 21st in 2009, followed by 11th, 6th, 15th, 12th, 5th; then he’s hit back to 21st place by end of 2015. He suffered a neck injury last year which lead to his poor 2015 finish. But early this year, he had a quarterfinal finish at Bells and capped it off with a Billabong Pipe Masters Win giving him a 6th place finish for 2016. He has leaped 15 places up the rankings and showed the world that he is still in a competitive state and is someone to watch out for in the upcoming 2017 CT.
2016 Rank: 4th
2015 Rank: 25th
Moved 21 places up
Last year, Andino has been forced to re-qualify for the 2016 Championship Tour through the Qualifying Series as he did not make the cut for the Top 22 surfers in the CT. This year Andino showed consistent performance that lead him to his 4th Place finish. Andino may have not won any event in this year’s CT calendar but he consistently finished in the top 5 in 6 of 11 events on tour, including a 2nd place finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. He jumped 21 places in the Jeep Leaderboard and made it look so easy!
2016 Rank: 2nd
2015 Rank: 28th
Moved 26 places up
Jordy Smith suffered his worst year in the Championship Tour in 2015 as a result of knee and back injuries. Smith worked on regaining his fitness and made the final at bells. 2016 was a huge comeback for Jordy. He won the Hurley Pro at Trestles, and maintained a solid performance throughout the year, and capped it off with a Vans World Cup win at Sunset Beach. It is remarkable how he managed to jump 26 places up the rankings and became World No. 2.
Jordy Smith at Hurley Pro 2016
Indeed it has been an incredible year in the World Championship Tour and such huge leaps are worth highlighting. Now everyone is looking forward to the 2017 Championship Tour to see who will maintain a solid performance and who will rise to greatness just like these guys above have done in 2016.