Wild card Hamilton headlines Trestles as CT action resumes

Trestles is a spot that the pros look forward to every year. It’s a fun wave they get to be creative on and having both the men’s and women’s elite tours at the same spot always adds a special wrinkle. There’s an extra level of intrigue for the women’s event, with wild card Bethany Hamilton making a much anticipated return to competition.

Only four contests remain in the women’s World Championship Tour season, so the Swatch Women’s Pro at Lower Trestles, Calif. is the beginning of the home stretch of what has become a hard-fought season. California native Courtney Conlogue currently holds the points lead and gets to wear the gold jersey in her home state, but Hawaii dominates much of round one.

Six of Hawaii’s top wahine compete in the first five heats of the contest. Round one is always a showcase as nobody can go home right away, but there is still a lot at stake with both the opportunity to skip round two and pick up at least ninth-place points.

But the biggest attraction is sure to be Hamilton. This will be her first CT event since 2011 and much has happened during that time. She became far more well-known with the release of her biopic, “Soul Surfer.” She became engaged and got married. Just this past June 1, Hamilton gave birth to the couple’s first child.

So simply having her involved at all adds a dimension that most CT contests don’t possess. It’s also another notch on Hamilton’s long list of personal triumphs. Not only did she move beyond the shark attack to still become a force on the junior and qualifying circuit, she is now competing in round one against the top-ranked surfer in the world just three months after delivering a baby boy.

Though life has taken her in many directions, Hamilton hasn’t lost much in terms of her competitive drive. She took first at last year’s Surf N Sea Pipeline Pro, winning each of her three heats. There won’t be the same level of expectation today against Conlogue and Nikki Van Dijk, but she will be a fan favorite and more than capable of picking apart a few waves if they come her way.

Coming off of a semifinal appearance at the Galicia Pro, Malia Manuel gets the contest going in heat one. Hopefully the jet lag won’t be too much to overcome because she’ll have her hands full going up against Lakey Peterson and Alessa Quizon. Quizon also had a good showing in Spain, reaching the quarterfinals and moving herself up into a tie with Manuel for sixth on the Qualifying Series.

Tatiana Weston-Webb hits the water in heat two against Bianca Buitendag and Dimity Stoyle. Tati has reached the third round in all of her CT events this year and should be surfing free and easy with such a high point total during her QS campaign.

Hamilton then gets going in heat three before Carissa Moore tries to chase down Conlogue to regain the season advantage. Moore will face Silvana Lima and event wild card Caroline Marks in heat four. Moore enters just 400 points behind Conlogue, but she hasn’t reached a final in the past three events after taking first or second in each of the year’s first three.

Coco Ho bats last for the wahine in heat five against Sally Fitzgibbons and Sage Erickson. Ho is getting into the crucial part of her year as she sits in 11th on the CT and eighth on the QS. Neither would put assure her a spot on the 2016 world tour, so some good results to close the year would be a welcome sight.

Action can be seen live on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250.

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

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