There are going to be more interested eyes watching the remaining World Championship Tour results than just the fans and participants. With the qualifying season having been completed and only a pair of WCT women’s events remaining, one Kauai surfer will be cheering on another, and it won’t necessarily be simply because they share the same island waters.
Wailua’s Malia Manuel, after a sixth-place final ranking in the 2012 world tour, is currently in a tie for 12th place on the WCT 2013 season standings. That alone does not guarantee her a spot on the 2014 world tour, but she has dominated the qualifying series and has the No. 1 world ranking in the Star events.
The world tour takes the top 10 WCT surfers and the top six in the world tour rankings, plus one wild card. So despite not currently being in the top 10 of the WCT, Manuel has guaranteed her spot on the biggest stage next season.
Where it gets really interesting is looking just below the cut line. Princeville’s Tatiana Weston-Webb finished the qualifying season in seventh place in the women’s world rankings, one spot below the automatic qualifiers. However, if Manuel or New Zealand’s Paige Hareb – both world tour surfers who have their 2014 tickets punched through the qualifying circuit – jump into the WCT top 10, that would allow Weston-Webb to move into the top six and earn a spot with the elite wahine for 2014.
It would be the ultimate accomplishment for the girl they call “Tati,” who has had a remarkable year. She moved herself up those world rankings with an equal third place finish at the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro that concluded on Sunday in Pantin, Spain. Manuel had a great event, as well, taking an equal fifth place. Hanalei’s Nage Melamed gained an equal 19th place, which pushed her to 28th place in the final world rankings.
As it stands right now, Manuel would be the only Kauai wahine to be on the 2014 tour, but, as stated above, she could help push Tati into that group by adding some more good results and not needing that world ranking as a backup.
Alana Blanchard, who started the WCT season strongly with a pair of quarterfinals, now sits just ahead of Manuel in 11th place.
It’s an interesting scenario, because for Tati to join the group, she needs Manuel to overtake at least two women, one of which could be Blanchard. But for Blanchard to keep her spot, she likely needs to stay ahead of Manuel, since she has not accrued enough qualifying points to fall back on her world ranking.
The only way for all three to gain 2014 world tour spots, outside one receiving a wild card, is for Manuel and Blanchard to both finish strong and end the season in the top 10.
I can understand if your head is spinning a bit, but it’s an amazing situation. There are only 17 women on the world tour. For three of them to be from the same tiny island would be an awesome accomplishment for not only them, but for this renowned surf community.
The final two women’s WCT events of 2013 begin with the Roxy Pro France on Sept. 24. That will be followed by the EDP Cascais Girls Pro in Cascais, Portugal on Oct. 3.
Those events will clear up the confusion and could make Kauai’s stamp on the women’s world tour that much larger in 2014.
• ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to email@example.com. Follow David on Twitter @SimonTGI