Tati eyeing French connection at Swatch Girls Pro

The waves may be small, but the stakes are still high at the Swatch Girls Pro France, a 6-Star World Qualifying Series event in Seignosse, France. Offering the highest potential point totals of any WQS event, the European opener is down to 12 wahine from a starting field of 80.

Still in the mix is Princeville’s Tatiana Weston-Webb, coming off a second place at the Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, California just a couple weeks ago. Tati is guaranteed no worse than an Equal Ninth place finish in Seignosse, which would net 920 rankings points. To improve upon that, she’ll have to survive the fifth round against a pair of world tour competitors in the Aussie combo of Nikki Van Dijk and Laura Enever.

Also still in the mix are top-ranked QS surfer Silvana Lima, Oahu rippers Coco Ho and Mahina Maeda and France local Pauline Ado.

Wednesday’s opening session had three Kauai girls in the forecast, all paddling out into the two-foot waves with some strong winds that made high scores a tricky proposition. Weston-Webb started in the Round of 48, as did Koloa’s Brianna Cope. Hanalei’s Nage Melamed had to surf a couple extra heats, but she won her opening round and then survived the Round of 72 with a second-place result, advancing into the final 48 along with Australia’s Mikaela Greene.

In the third round, Tati put up the highest two-wave total of the day. She was finding good scores throughout the heat and backed up an early 7.25 with an 8.50 for a 15.75 total. That gave her first position while Australia’s Keely Andrew surfed well for a 12.55 total and second place.

It was also a successful round for Cope, who survived a difficult heat against World Championship Tour rookie Johanne Defay, American Meah Collins and Oahu’s Bailey Nagy. Cope used her final two waves to secure second place, closing with a 5.35 and a 6.10 for an 11.45 total. Defay took the win to eliminate the young American and the Team Hawaii veteran.

Having made it through two heats, Melamed fell just shy in her third. It was a tough way to go out as her 11.45 total barely lost to Aussie Bronte Macaulay’s 11.85 and Japan’s Nao Omura’s 11.80. On each of her final two waves, at least one judge gave her the score that would have gotten her into the next round, but the average was not in her favor after tossing out the high and the low. The result is an Equal 25th place and 410 points. She entered ranked 10th in the QS standings and will look to pick up another result at the upcoming Pantin Classic Galicia Pro in Spain.

In the Round of 24, Cope and Tati were in the same four-surfer heat. Though she was not the most active, Tati did end up being the most effective, scoring a quick 5.25 and adding a 6.75 later as the ocean became a bit uncooperative. Those scores were enough for the win, but Cope came up short as her 8.35 total fell to second-place finisher Ellie-Jean Coffey’s 10.80. The Australian was the workhorse of the heat, scoring 11 waves. Cope’s Equal 13th place finish gets her 650 points and should improve her 17th place QS ranking.

The jump in points from here on out is rather large. Taking either first or second in the Round of 12 means a quarterfinal appearance and at least 1,560 points. The event champ will gain 3,500 points, a sum that would all but assure Tati of a spot on next year’s world tour, but there are some elite surfers left to tangle with.

The time difference means that Friday’s action would have begun Thursday night Hawaiian time, if conditions were suitable. Visit www.aspworldtour.com for event information.

LAY DAYS AT CHOPES: The Billabong Pro Tahiti did not run Wednesday or Thursday as an incoming swell built at Teahupoo. All indications pointed to a Friday re-start. Round three will feature a couple of familiar faces when Kilauea’s Sebastian Zietz takes on Oahu’s John John Florence. The two have faced off twice this year with Seabass getting the best of John John in Rio before the youngster returned the favor in Fiji.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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