A world title and a Triple Crown are at stake, each likely to see action starting on Monday as Hawaii sits at the epicenter of both the men’s and women’s surf storms.
The Maui Women’s Pro at Honolua Bay will determine the 2017 women’s Championship Tour world title winner and five wahine still have a chance at the top spot. It’s a virtual tie for first place at the moment between Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue and Tyler Wright. If any of those three are to win in Maui, they will also capture the world title.
But thanks to back-to-back finals appearances, Carissa Moore has given herself a mathematical chance at her fourth world championship. If she can win on Maui, she’ll also need Fitzgibbons and Wright to be eliminated in the quarterfinals or sooner, as well as Conlogue to be eliminated in the semifinals or sooner.
It’s a lot to ask for, but as one of the best to ever surf Honolua Bay, Moore’s presence alone will be putting plenty of pressure on the rest of the competitors. They may not be at their best knowing what’s at stake and that so many others have a chance.
Stephanie Gilmore can also win what would be her seventh world title with a win and the same requirements of the others that Moore would need.
While the first round won’t determine all that much, a heat win can give each of the contenders some breathing room with a round off, avoiding an early elimination. Gilmore has a tough trio as she’ll face Malia Manuel and Nikki Van Dijk in the opening heat.
Manuel’s reemergence has been great to watch as she has rehabbed her injury to return for the year’s final four contests. She’s made finals day at the past two stops, giving her at least a fifth-place result in three of her five events on the year. Had it not been for her knee injury, Manuel may have also been in the mix with the top five.
Moore takes on one of her best friends on tour, Johanne Defay, as well as Pauline Ado. The French pair will be looking to make Moore’s attempt at another Maui victory begin with some resistance.
Fitzgibbons will be facing off with Silvana Lima and local wild card, Brisa Hennessy. Not far from becoming a full-time regular on the CT, Hennessy is making her second straight Maui wild card appearance. Last year, she pulled off a major upset by knocking off Defay in round two. A similar showing this time could have serious world title ramifications.
Wright will be facing Tatiana Weston-Webb and Laura Enever. With a spot in the Qualifying Series top six assured, Weston-Webb can operate solely as a competitor. She doesn’t need any specific result and she can just try to surf her best and go for the win. It’s a luxury that her outstanding QS season has afforded her.
Conlogue will face off with the Aussie duo of Keely Andrew and Bronte Macaulay before Lakey Peterson, Sage Erickson and Coco Ho finish off round one.
Every heat will contain a compelling story line and the conditions starting Monday could provide some great surf for those tales to be told.
Over on Oahu’s Sunset Beach, Monday should also be the start of the World Cup of Surfing, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Filipe Toledo is off to the early lead with his win in Haleiwa at the Hawaiian Pro. But the bigger the conditions, the more surfers have a chance at cutting into that lead.
Many of the same faces that participated in Haleiwa are in this field, as well. The Hawaii contingent is strong, looking to hopefully grab some better results on this leg.
There’s a lot going on, so keep your TV’s on and your laptops charged. The action should be fast, furious and simultaneous. Enjoy!
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.