Kennelly keeps Pipeline Women’s Pro crown on Kauai

Keala Kennelly seems to have a lot going on at all times and these days she’s seen just as often behind the turntables as on her surfboard. But when she isn’t deejaying parties all over the globe, she can still be spotted dipping her toe back into the competitive waters.

As one of Kauai’s most ferocious chargers ever – male or female – Kennelly maintained her reputation and lengthened her resume Friday by winning the Surf N Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro. A QS1000 Women’s Qualifying Series contest, the Pipeline Pro holds a lot more prestige amongst Hawaii surfers than is represented in its WQS value. Twenty of the wahine who started in the Round of 32 call Hawaii their home and the local knowledge was evident as the rounds progressed.

The final heat consisted of four Hawaii surfers as Kennelly, who has been a regular at Pipe for many years and consistently paddles into the world’s biggest waves, edged out Honolua Blomfield in second, Melanie Bartels in third and Moana Jones in fourth place.

Her event featured plenty of star power from the very start as Kennelly and two-time WSL world champion Carissa Moore were competing in the opening round’s first heat. But Moore could not find her usual world tour dominance in this QS1000 contest and was eliminated in third place behind Kennelly and Hawaii’s Emilia Perry.

The second round was another heat win for Kennelly, advancing along with Chile’s Jessica Anderson as they took the first two of eight semifinal slots. When all the quarterfinal heats were complete, there were four Hawaii surfers remaining. With two in each heat, all four managed to make it to the final, ensuring the Women’s Pipeline Pro title would stay on home soil.

Not only does the crown stay in the state, but it remains on Kauai. Last year, Bethany Hamilton won the Surf N Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro for her first contest win in almost a decade. Hamilton and Kennelly represent very different ends of the women’s surfing spectrum, but both are household names within the community.

Though she’s unlikely concerned about working her way up the rankings, the 1,000 points for the win will put Kennelly just on the edge of the top 50 in the WQS standings. She also takes home $2,000 for the victory.

Next up on the WQS circuit is the Port Taranaki Pro, which gets underway Thursday in New Zealand. Big points are available at this QS6000 contest and Kauai’s Tatiana Weston-Webb is currently scheduled to participate. Weston-Webb leads the WQS standings at the moment, having taken third place in her first two QS6000 events of the 2015 season.

Tati got on the WSL world tour this year thanks to her WQS ranking and she’s off to a good start in securing that opportunity once again. But if her third-place finish at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast is a glimpse at how she’ll compete throughout this rookie campaign on the world tour, she may not need to rely upon that WQS ranking.

The various generations of Kauai wahine keep showing that they not only belong, but that they can compete with the best surfers in the world.


David Simon can be reached at


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