HALE‘IWA — The teenage new wave of women’s professional surfing stole the show at the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Hale‘iwa, yesterday. In their opening day of competition, the ladies enjoyed solid overhead waves and two rounds of competition as they whittled the 44-woman, 11-nation field down to 16 quarterfinalists.
From the first heat — a wildcard battle among six young Hawai‘i surfers — it was clear that the new crop is determined to rise to the top at this year’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Wildcard winner Carissa Moore, 16, and winter roommates 17-year-old Australian Laura Enever and 17-year-old Hawai‘i surfer Coco Ho, administered the major damage against some of the top seeded surfers and are all through to the quarters. Enever posted the highest scores of the day in Round 1: 9.37 and 9.33 for 18.7 total.
Heading into the quarterfinals, seven of the 16 ladies remaining are 18 years of age or under: Bruna Schmitz (Brazil, 18), Ho, Enever, Courtney Conlogue (California, 16), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia, 17), Moore, and Alana Blanchard (Kaua‘i, 18).
Defending Reef Hawaiian Pro and Vans Triple Crown champion Megan Abubo of O‘ahu was the biggest casualty of the day, eliminated in Round 2 by Ho and Enever.
“This is my first time competing in a Triple Crown event at Hale‘iwa,” said Ho, who won the heat. “My ultimate goal this year was to get into this event with the four results I’ve got this year. I didn’t expect to come this far or have a chance at qualifying (for the World Tour). I try not to think about qualifying, but it’s on my mind.”
Ho hails from the North Shore’s most famous surfing family. Her father, Michael, is a former Pipeline Master and Triple Crown champion, and her uncle Derek was Hawai‘i’s first ASP World Champion, as well as a Pipe Master and Triple Crown champ.
As for the pressure to uphold the famous Ho family name: “I’m trying to learn and live up their expectations and enjoy myself.”
Carissa Moore is rapidly blazing a trail all her own. Over the past two years, she has inflicted major damage with every wildcard opportunity she has earned.
Yesterday was just another notch in her belt and she is through to the quarters.
“I love surfing Hale‘iwa, it’s my favorite wave on the North Shore,” Moore said after another memorable session. “I’m just super stoked for the opportunity to get into this event. It would be cool one day (to win the Triple Crown) if it works out, but until then I’m just going to go with the flow and enjoy things.”
In the men’s competition, the Round 3 wrapped up and saw South African Jordy Smith take flight in an incredible performance that earned him 18.0 out of 20 points with waves scores of 9.5 and 8.5.
Others to advance beyond men’s Round 3 this morning included Australia’s Dayyan Neve and Adam Melling, Brazil’s Yuri Sodre and California’s Tim Reyes. When the men’s competition resumes, it will see the entrance of the top seeds of the tournament, including 2007 world champion Mick Fanning, favored local Pancho Sullivan, defending men’s Vans Triple Crown champion Bede Durbidge and defending Reef Hawaiian Pro champ Roy Powers.
Two full days of competition remain at the Reef Hawaiian Pro. By the conclusion of yesterday’s heats, a very wet front moved in from the north west and it is uncertain if competition will resume tomorrow morning.
A heavyweight on the elite World Tour, Smith is a reliable standout in the Triple Crown, with the size and power of Hawaiian surf suiting him to a tee.
“It was classic Hale‘iwa yesterday,” Smith said after his heat. “I definitely like big waves and I love coming over here. I love the vibe. It’s pretty much where a guy goes from a boy a becomes a man and I’m in the transformation of that now.”
On his 9.5: “Getting a wave like that pretty much takes off the heat. I was just lucky to find that wave early on in the heat.”