Blanchard earns wildcard for 2014 season

The Association of Surfing Professionals made it official on Tuesday and declared Alana Blanchard the ASP Wildcard for the entirety of the 2014 Women’s World Championship Tour season.

Blanchard had finished in a tie with Australia’s Laura Enever for 10th place in the final 2013 WCT rankings, with the top 10 gaining automatic re-qualification for the following season.

“Ms. Enever receives the qualifying position based on having a higher ASP Women’s World Ranking than Ms. Blanchard,” said Dave Prodan, ASP International’s Vice President of Communications, in an email. “Ms. Blanchard, however, has been allocated the ASP Wildcard for the 2014 season.”

That means that both of Kauai’s World Tour participants will be back for next year with the Top 17 – Blanchard for the second straight season and Malia Manuel for her third consecutive year. Manuel finished 13th in the World Tour rankings, but was No. 1 overall in the Women’s World Rankings, thanks to an outstanding summer of qualifying events.

Manuel won the Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, Calif., then took an Equal 3rd at the Swatch Girl Pro France and an Equal 5th at the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro. Those three results, along with an Equal 3rd at the Breaka Burleigh Pro in February, gave Manuel 9,220 qualifying points, more than any other woman in the world.

Between the World Tour and qualifying events, Manuel tallied $56,900 in prize money for the 2013 season.

Enever finished in 11th place in the world rankings, while Blanchard’s low standing in those rankings was ultimately what put her into the Wildcard position, according to Prodan. Blanchard competed in just two February qualifiers and totaled 820 points for a pair of Equal 25th finishes.

All of her competition results for 2013, which included a pair of quarterfinal appearances to start the World Tour season, netted Blanchard $45,400 in prize money.

Oahu’s Carissa Moore finished atop the World Tour standings to win her second ASP world title. She was followed by Tyler Wright (Australia), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), Coco Ho (Oahu), Lakey Peterson (USA), Bianca Biutendag (South Africa) and Pauline Ado (France) – all of whom re-qualified for 2014.

The six qualifiers from the World Rankings were Manuel, Dimity Stoyle (Australia), Alessa Quizon (Oahu), Nikki Van Dijk (Australia), Paige Hareb (New Zealand) and Joanne Defay (France).

2013 regulars Sage Erickson (USA), Silvana Lima (Brazil), Rebecca Woods (Australia) and Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) did not re-qualify for next year.

Quizon, 19, is a first-time qualifier and gives Hawaii five of the Top 17. The Makaha native won the 2012 ASP World Junior Championship in Queensland, Australia and had a terrific 2013 qualifying season.

Just missing the cut was Kauai’s Tatiana Weston-Webb, 17, who finished 12th in the World Rankings and was the top-ranked surfer not to qualify for the 2014 World Tour.

On the men’s side, two events remain in the World Championship Tour season. The first begins today at the Rip Curl Pro (October 9 to 20) in Peniche, Portugal. Australia’s Mick Fanning leads the world title race and has a solid lead over contenders Kelly Slater (USA), Jordy Smith (South Africa), Taj Burrow (Australia) and Joel Parkinson (Australia).

Fanning can clinch his third title with a win in Portugal and if Slater does not finish with at least an Equal 3rd result. Otherwise, most scenarios suggest the title race will not be determined until the year’s final event at the Billabong Pipe Masters (December 8 to 20).

The lone Kauai surfer on the men’s World Tour, Sebastian Zietz, sits in 18th place with the two final events looming. If Zietz can continue to reach the third round – something he has done in seven of his eight events this season – he’ll be certain to re-qualify for 2014.

• ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to dsimon@thegardenisland.com. Follow David on Twitter @SimonTGI

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