Huge surf headed our way; China kicks off 2015 women’s WSL season

Could it? Might it? Will it?

There’s some big stuff headed our way, which is carrying along with it the question everyone seems to ask each winter season. We know that Eddie would go, but will “The Eddie” be a go this week?

According to Surfline and other forecast models, it seems possible. A huge swell will be hitting all north-facing shores on Wednesday. Kauai’s North Shore has already been pumping with waves in the 15 to 20-foot range on Saturday. Those figures could double by mid-week.

The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, has issued a yellow alert to let all participants know that a green could be coming. The contest has not run since 2009 when California big waver Greg Long took home the prestigious title. It has only run eight times in the previous 29 years, so getting the requisite conditions have been a rarity.

If all invitees were to make it to Waimea Bay on the day, Kauai’s participants would be Kala Alexander, Bruce Irons and Reef McIntosh. Danny Fuller and Evan Valiere are on the alternate list, should additional chargers be required.

While we await that possibility, the new women’s World Surf League season has gotten underway. There’s not much of a break between campaigns and 2015 is off and running with the Hainan Pro, a Qualifying Series 6000 contest being held at China’s Riyue Bay. With the former Association of Surfing Professionals switching to the WSL this season, the contest terminology has also changed. This QS6000 contest is essentially what used to be a 6-Star, so it’s a big one. Many of the best QS wahine are taking on some of the mid-tier World Championship Tour women, all hoping to get their re-qualification resumes off to a solid start.

Three Garden Isle women made the trip to Asia for the event and all three have put on a show in the early heats. The contest made it halfway through the Round of 48 on Friday (Saturday local time), which was just long enough for Brianna Cope, Mainei Kinimaka and Tatiana Weston-Webb to all surf their way into the Round of 24.

Weston-Webb is the most decorated of the three, having qualified for this year’s WCT through her WQS ranking in 2014. It’s expected to be a big year for Tati, who will compete with the elite for the whole season after making her debut in three 2014 events as an injury replacement.

Cope made a strong push last year, taking second place at the Los Cabos Open of Surf and finishing the season ranked 14th in the WQS standings. She had planned on 2015 being her first real effort to qualify, so last year’s success could give her extra confidence.

Mainei, along with sister Maluhia, has competed frequently around Hawaii, been a Team Hawaii participant and obviously has the Kinimaka name recognition, but she hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity on the QS to this point. All three are already guaranteed at least 1,050 ranking points, which is a nice start to the season for any young qualifier.

Kinimaka began at the very beginning of the contest in the Round of 72, taking second place. She followed that with a Round of 60 win and a second place in the Round of 48 to advance with Australia’s Ellie-Jean Coffey. Thanks to their high seedings, Weston-Webb and Cope each started in the Round of 48 and each won their heats to move on to the

final 24.

The top seeds have a lot of WCT experience with Pauline Ado, Paige Hareb, Laura Enever, Nikki Van Dijk and Dimity Stoyle in the mix. All remain except for Enever, who placed third in her Round of 48 heat, bested by just one-tenth of a point by fellow Aussie Mikaela Greene. Other familiar faces include former Team Hawaii gold medalists Mahina Maeda and Dax McGill, along with France’s Justine Dupont and New Zealand’s Ella Williams.

As we await our expected swell, keep an eye on this little left-hand break across the Pacific. It’s going to be another exciting year and someone is about to start 2015 in style.

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

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