As I scan the names that remain in the Supergirl Pro, Larry David’s voice creeps in with a repetition of “pretty, pretty, pretty good!” They started with 108 on Friday in Oceanside, Calif., and after Saturday’s action, just 16 still have a chance at the top prize of 6,000 Qualifying Series points. Those 16 are all accomplished and none will be considered an easy out in the remaining head-to-head elimination heats.
As we might have hoped and optimistically expected, both Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb are still in the mix, having advanced through their Saturday heats to climb through the draw. The Kauai pair each picked up a victory in their Round of 48 foursomes and followed it with a second in the Round of 24 trios. Looking ahead, Manuel will take on fellow world tour competitor Laura Enever for a spot in the quarterfinals, while Weston-Webb matches up with Australia’s Isabella Nichols.
The waves at Oceanside haven’t been all that spectacular, but they’ve provided enough opportunity to let the wahine show some style. It seems that one big turn is the way to impress the judges, more so than a few small maneuvers strung together. Finding those set waves in the smaller conditions isn’t easy, but necessary.
Four of the 16 in round six are from Hawaii and none of them are matched up with one another. Coco Ho and Alessa Quizon followed the same exact script as Manuel and Tati, winning in the fourth round and earning seconds in the fifth round. Ho has an interesting matchup with Aussie Philippa Anderson, while Quizon has a very touch task against Lakey Peterson.
With her historical success on the QS, Ho has to be considered one of the two or three favorites. But Anderson has made this her best pro season and is coming off a third place at Los Cabos, an event won by Ho last season.
For Quizon, it may be the biggest heat she has all year. It’s almost a certainty that she’ll need to re-qualify through the QS and her current ranking (20th) will need a boost. Taking on Peterson is a bad stroke of luck, but she’ll have to take on the best at some point.
Manuel’s outcome today is also crucial because of her precarious position on the Championship Tour. Tati has much more wiggle room. Not only is she up to seventh on the CT, but she’s a strong second on the QS. A good haul at Oceanside would almost guarantee her re-qualification.
Kauai’s Brianna Cope was a round five elimination in maybe the toughest heat of the round. She went up against Peterson and Weston-Webb, who each advanced in the top two positions. The result gives Cope an equal 17th and 1,050 points. It could bump her up a spot or two from where she came in at 24th, but it will keep her in that neighborhood with a few more opportunities to improve.
Mainei Kinimaka will also move up with an equal 25th, surviving her round three heat before a narrow loss in round four. She’ll move into the top 50 in the world with these 700 points and has continued to prove that she certainly belongs at this level.
But it’s the big points that are up for grabs today. All remaining are guaranteed 1,550 points and one more heat win bumps that up to 2,650. Aside from the Hawaii crew, some of the top seeds eyeing the 6,000 grand prize points and $8,000 cash are defending champion Sage Erickson, Championship Tour number two Courtney Conlogue and current QS points leader Nikki Van Dijk.
If I had to pick a winner, I’d say Conlogue has the best chance, though she may have to take on Manuel in the quarters. Ho might have the best remaining draw and could certainly be a finalist. Johanne Defay is a dark horse to watch.
Finals day will be shown live on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250, as well as streaming online.