6 surfers to watch in 2024
1. Jayce Pioli | The Dark Horse
Jayce Pioli is a dark horse in plain sight. A stalwart fixture of the Noosa lineups, especially on a big swell, Jayce knows the points and their waves only too well. Making numerous sporadic appearances in the Noosa Festival roll-call over the years, he has made several finals. His deadly combination of performance waveriding, old-school trim and sublime noseriding could easily prove to be a winning formula in 2024.
With respect to the eternal grom, Jayce is creeping into the senior age divisions, giving him increased potential for a win, but that isn’t to suggest that he couldn’t comfortably clean up in the pros as well.
Jayce enjoys the power, and beneath the lip of a Boiling Pot bomb is his happy place, so if the waves are on in 2024 – and we’re well-overdue for it – Jayce’s dynamic style could easily slide him to victory.
2. Dallas Rogers | The Next Big Thing
Dallas pictured on the right in blue rashie.
In fairness, Dallas Rogers has been a ‘big thing’ for a while now. He is the shady pony to Jayce Pioli’s dark horse, and is frequently found on the top rungs of the competition ladder while few saw his ascent.
An impressive finalist in the 2023 WSL Men’s division at Noosa, he claimed an Under 18 win in the Queensland Surf Fest back in 2020 and now has his sights set and skills honed for the big leagues.
Dallas revels on a log, but knows when to drop the back foot if a bit of grunt is required. A calculated surfer with great finesse, he gives the ocean what she demands, surfing waves in a manner that best suits their size and power. This versatility gives him a strong advantage in changeable conditions, and if the past few years are anything to go by, will stand him in good stead for the festival week. Dribbling ankle-biters, open beach breaks or reeling First Point perfection, Dallas has the tricks in his bag to deal with it all and rack up the points.
3. Hiroka Yoshikawa | The Happiest Surfer
The first thing you notice about Hiroka Yoshikawa is her endlessly beaming smile, but even this is outshone by her committed approach to every wave that rolls her way. The not-so-proud owner of two halves of a nine-foot board when the festival received pumping swell on Sunrise Beach, Hiroka-san will paddle over the lip of waves many of us would let sail on by.
As her bisected log showed, this can sometimes be to her undoing, but this level of commitment also sees her clocking up bigger wave counts in fickle conditions. It was this tenacity, matched by her balletic grace, that saw the Japanese Noosa resident hold aloft the winning trophy in last year’s Logger division.
Many surfers possess a schizophrenic alter-ego that only emerges when the coloured jersey is donned. The jovial freesurfer is forgotten, the game face is on, and it’s all business when the clock starts ticking. Not so with Hiroka-san, her fervent passion and sheer joy in surfing as evident in competition as in on-shore solo sessions, making her as much of a pleasure to watch as she is to compete against.
4. Augusto Olinto | The Quiet Victor
Though known on the circuit for his spirited personality and fine style, Augusto Olinto still comes as a surprise at the pointier end of competitions. Stow your Aussie prejudice, because this is one Brazilian who is a pleasure to share the lineup with.
Quiet-spoken and exuding humility, he shows a genuine gratitude for surfing with some of the world’s best that seeps through to the presentations when he claims a podium finish, as demonstrated when anointed victor of the 2023 Logger division here at Noosa.
Augusto has the ability to do the impossible. Though each manoeuvre is executed expertly, his talents lie in when he lays these down and how he connects them. There are better noseriders, barrel sliders and masters of the trim, but few can match Augusto’s execution of these skills in critical sections. Doing the unthinkable under the lip or dangling ten on a ripple, it is this ability to get the big scores when the conditions don’t comply that makes him an unknown quantity in any heat, and lauded him the title of 2024 defending champion of the Logger Pro.
5. Kai Ellice-Flint The Patient Master
Kai Ellice-Flint is no stranger to the stage come Presentation day, yet the Byron local is yet to rack up the win he so rightfully deserves and is long overdue. A superb noserider and proficient all-rounder, Kai’s style is one of calm composure and sure-footed poise; even his occasional falls seem to happen in slow-motion.
Whatever the ocean throws at him, Kai has an eloquent answer, and his small-wave capabilities may serve him well if Huey doesn’t arrive to 2024’s festival. However, if the points are firing and Noosa turns on its sporadic best, Kai’s surfing will be equally as verbose and he has money and change in his bag of tricks to be able to clock in the big scores.
Without discrediting his peers, it seems that misfortune has been his greatest enemy, and if the stars align, the day could come for Kai to shine.
6. Leena Mun | The Korean Powerhouse
South Korea’s Leena Mun is a force to be reckoned with. Frequenting events throughout South-East Asia, Leena’s global performances have made her a name for herself. Here in Noosa, however, she has yet to have her moment in the spotlight. A quarter-final spot in 2022’s Luxico HP division proved that performance is her forté, and she has plenty of power under the back foot to illuminate a strong swell.
But in the land of loggers, her formidable skills and quiver may lack the old-school trim required in Noosa’s mellower waves. Though talented in the art of logging, her favourite place is on more refined boards thrashing beach breaks, so if a change of location occurs, this could well be Leena’s year.
With all that said, she is an incredibly dedicated athlete, and the experience accumulated since we last saw her on our shores may well have honed her single-fin game. With the combination of power, performance and trim, Leena could well be a dominating presence in 2024’s stable of superb surfers.Read more articles