The first of three major World Qualifying Series events this month is into its final day and two of Kauai’s best women surfers are still in the mix. The 2014 Supergirl Pro has reduced its field from 94 competitors down to 12 and will finish up today in Oceanside, California.
Into the Round of 12 are Wailua’s Malia Manuel and Princeville’s Tatiana Weston-Webb. It’s certainly no surprise for either to have gotten this far. Manuel is currently ranked fifth on the World Championship Tour and Tati has participated in the past three WCT events. Both are heavy favorites when it comes the the WQS schedule.
Manuel is set to go up against another pair of heavyweights in the first heat of round six. She will be taking on former world tour surfer and current No. 1 WQS ranked Silvana Lima. Having gotten healthy after a major knee injury, Lima has been on a tear throughout this WQS season. Also in their heat trio will be Pauline Ado, a member of this year’s WCT qualifiers. Ado is currently 16th in the WCT rankings, so she will likely need to re-qualify through these WQS events.
In the fourth and final heat of the sixth round, Tati will be relying upon her world tour experience, going up against two Top 17 members in Coco Ho and Dimity Stoyle. As one of the most consistent Hawaii wahine of her generation, Ho is tied for 10th on this year’s world tour and could need to fall back on her WQS ranking to requalify. A WCT rookie, Stoyle is eighth in the elite rankings and having a very impressive debut season.
Four other Kauai women competed in California, but it was an interference call that ended the event for Brianna Cope. Coming into this contest with plenty of momentum, Cope reached the Round of 24 before a bit of bad luck ended her run at another major result. In that fifth round heat, Cope received an early interference on her first wave. While her three opponents would receive a two-wave total, her second score would only be given half credit, limiting her point potential. It’s not as debilitating as in world tour events where an interference call wipes out one score completely, but it changes a surfer’s approach, knowing they need one monster score to have any chance, whatsoever.
Already taking on some stiff competition, Cope finished fourth as Stoyle and Aussie Keely Andrew moved on to round six.
Cope takes an Equal 19th place finish and 543 WQS rankings points.
Alana Blanchard, Nage Melamed and Leila Hurst each surfed consecutively in the final three heats of round four, but all three came up short of advancing into round five. Blanchard will be needing some big August results during this six-star run of contests. She’ll take home an Equal 25th from Oceanside. In the fourth round, Blanchard got off to a quick start during a slow heat. She opened with a 4.03 score and backed it up with a 4.40 on her second wave. But she was unable to find a wave of consequence after that as fellow Princeville surfer Weston-Webb moved up into first place. Tati’s 6.73 was the best score of the heat and she got the win with an 11.80 total. Blanchard would need a late 6.51 wave to pass Australia’s Stephanie Single in second, but nothing close came through.
Hanalei’s Melamed injured her knee training in Oceanside before the event, so she did not enter at full strength. Coming into the contest ranked sixth in the WQS rankings, Melamed would be a world tour competitor next season if determining the Top 17 today. Her ranking allowed her to begin in the fourth round and her third place heat finish will still earn her an Equal 25th result and keep her among the top seeds for the next contest. Despite the injury, she still managed to catch six waves and got stronger throughout the heat, receiving her best two scores on her final waves. Oahu’s Alessa Quizon and American Quincy Davis took the top two spots.
An all-Hawaii heat was the final foursome of the fourth round, but Hurst was one of the unlucky casualties. Conditions weren’t optimal from beginning to end for the group, though Ho and Brisa Hennessy managed to fight the chop best with some mediocre scores. Ho’s pair of 5.50 rides were the heat’s best and Hennessy needed just a 9.36 total for second place. Hurst and Dax McGill tried to find anything to keep up, but the ocean didn’t cooperate. Kilauea’s Hurst, who came in ranked 10th in the WQS standings, takes an Equal 37th and 380 points.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.