Before the Surf Ranch becomes the epicenter of surfing on Sept. 6, there’s still some Qualifying Series work to be done. The women’s tour is in Europe at the moment with the QS 6,000 Galicia Pro underway in Spain. It’s the sixth of seven maximum-point contests on the schedule, so it’s time to make a move for any Championship Tour hopefuls.
Certainly in that mix is Brisa Hennessy, who comes into the event ranked seventh on the QS leaderboard. She’d be a 2019 CT rookie if the season were to end today. Since it doesn’t, she’ll need to keep pace with the rest of the wahine and maintain that positioning to reach the dream tour.
Hennessy has always surfed under the Hawaiian flag, but like Tatiana Weston-Webb did earlier this year, Hennessy has recently changed to her native country of Costa Rica. It will give her a much easier opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, since Hawaii and the rest of the United States surfers will all be vying for very few spots on the same roster.
The same decision was made by Mahina Maeda, who hopes to be surfing for host nation Japan. Seeing these top competitors with different flags next to their names and faces takes some getting used to, but it all makes sense for their aspirations at a potentially once in a lifetime opportunity.
The pair will be going up against one another in round four, where 48 wahine remain in the hunt. Hennessy and Maeda will also be taking on Ecuador’s Dominic Barona and American Rachel Presti in their four-woman heat.
Kauai’s Brianna Cope has already survived two heats to reach round four. She has a very difficult matchup featuring Sage Erickson, Alessa Quizon and Spain’s Garazi Sanchez-Ortun. Cope has had some unlucky heats this season and hasn’t broken through with a major result yet. Her current ranking of 77 is her lowest since 2013, so maybe Spain will be where her momentum shifts back towards the upper echelon. But Erickson and Quizon are two major road blocks so it will require a maximum effort and some better luck.
Kilauea’s Gabriela Bryan, still just 16 years old, got through her third-round heat and will be facing Dimity Stoyle, Teresa Bonvalot and Minori Kawai in round four. Bryan just won the Pantin junior women’s event on Sunday, so this is familiar and comfortable territory. If she can continue her success in the main draw, she may move into the top 25 on the QS.
Bailey Nagy is also into the fourth round, where she’ll be taking on Philippa Anderson, Pauline Ado and Melania Diaz. Zoe McDougall has an equally tough heat against Bronte Macaulay, Tia Blanco and Anali Gomez.
The final heat of round four features Coco Ho, who is having another stellar season on the QS. She’s in second place, behind just Caroline Marks. Ho won the QS 6,000 in New South Wales and added a third place at the Supergirl Pro. She’s one solid result from locking up a re-qualification spot and must be considered one of the favorites remaining in Spain. Her portion of the draw certainly seems favorable for a deep run.
There’s a lot of Hawaii representation remaining, no matter which flag appears next to their name. With summer coming to an end — yes, technically we have been in the midst of summer, despite all evidence to the contrary — opportunities for major results are diminishing. This is one of the last chances for these wahine to take a giant step in furthering their careers.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.