Eight remain after Saturday’s third run for the men’s division of the Surf Ranch Pro. Sebastian Zietz was able to get a strong score going left on his final attempt, replacing a 4.00 with a 6.83 to back up his 8.67 right from Friday. That 15.50 total was just enough as he sneaks into the final in eighth place with a star-studded crew that will certainly make for an exciting conclusion today.
Most of the familiar names came through with big performances over the past three days of action. Gabriel Medina finished atop the leaderboard, combining his first left and his second right for a 17.70 total score. Julian Wilson went for it all on Saturday and ended up benefiting from his ambitious attempts, replacing both of his best scores to that point for a 17.27 total and the second-place spot on the leaderboard.
Kanoa Igarashi has had one of the most consistently dynamic events of anyone in the field. He resides in third place with a 16.83 total on the heels of his recent US Open title in Huntington Beach.
Filipe Toledo was projected as the favorite coming into the contest. Entering with the yellow jersey, Toledo has continued to put on a show with his aerial tactics and speedy carving connections. He sits in fourth place, just ahead of Owen Wright, who has been incredibly sharp thus far. Wright and Wilson are the only two surfers with four waves scored above the 7.00 mark.
The brains behind this whole operation, 11-time world champ Kelly Slater is in sixth place. It only makes sense for Slater to make the final day of competition for what seems to have been the focus of his attention for years now. Slater got off to a decent start, but saved his best work for his last few attempts. He finished off Friday with an 8.50 on a right, then came back Saturday with a 7.27 on his left to jump back into a contending position.
Miguel Pupo had a huge Saturday to join the party, picking up each of his high scores in run three for a 15.56 total score, finishing just 0.06 ahead of Zietz in eighth place.
The eight remaining will now surf six waves apiece today, three rights and three lefts. Just like the qualifying round, the best right and left will be added together to determine the surfer’s final total.
Toledo has kept himself in a great position to continue marching towards his first world title. His worst case scenario is a fifth-place result with Medina winning the event. Even if that occurs, he’ll still maintain the yellow jersey, but only by just over 1,000 points. Unlike most contests, this isn’t about advancing or outsurfing anyone, this is just about putting the biggest score on the board. Toledo has the weapons to do just that, but there are still some sharks in the water who will be pulling out all the stops in order to win this inaugural championship.
Unlike Wilson and Pupo’s late pushes, there was little drama on the women’s side during Saturday’s final qualifying run. The four wahine who held the top spots all had their final round inclusion secure without having even paddled out yet.
Carissa Moore, Lakey Peterson, Caroline Marks and points leader Stephanie Gilmore came into the day with the top four point totals and none of the other 14 competitors were able to knock any of them out of those positions. They will make up the women’s final round today as Gilmore tries to stave off Peterson in their battle for the world title.
Gilmore held a 5,200- point lead coming into the Ranch and Peterson can only pick up 3,915 points if everything goes her way today, so Gilmore will hold onto the yellow jersey going into the Roxy Pro France.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.