There were fun waves, good rides and big comebacks, but not even Ice Cube would have considered Thursday a good day — at least in terms of the results for Hawaii surfers at Lowers. The second round of the Swatch Women’s Pro was completed Thursday at Lower Trestles, Calif. It turned out to be the final heats of the event for Bethany Hamilton, Malia Manuel and Coco Ho.
That trio will all take equal 13th-place results, which could be very damaging for both Manuel and Ho. Manuel came into the contest having made the quarterfinals in four of six events for the year, but her eighth-place ranking is susceptible to those giving chase. She has moved up the Qualifying Series leader board, but the final few months could be much more stressful on her re-qualification attempt than she would have hoped.
After a high-scoring second-place finish in the opening round relegated Manuel to round two, she faced Sage Erickson in an elimination heat. The waves got better as the heat wore on and Erickson finished strong, using priority on the final wave of the heat to tack an 8.53 to her score line and secure the spot in round three. It’s only the second time all season Manuel has been knocked out in round two and this is Erickson’s first heat victory of 2015.
An early exit was even worse news for Ho, who was in prime position to move back into the top 10. She entered in 11th place, one spot behind injured Stephanie Gilmore, who was forced to withdraw from her fourth consecutive contest. But Ho was unable to take advantage of those circumstances and the task will now be put off for at least one more event after she was bounced by Dimity Stoyle in a very tight heat. Both hit the beach after the buzzer not knowing the result, but Stoyle’s final wave was scored a 7.83 to retake first place after a lead change in the final minute.
It’s the only second-round loss for Ho thus far this season.
Hamilton was one of the feel-good stories this week after receiving a wild card into Lowers. She had a matchup in round two with current world No. 4 Bianca Buitendag. The powerful South African got off to a quick start and put Hamilton in a combination position halfway through the heat. Hamilton responded in a big way with a pair of sparkling turns that broke the combo with a 7.53, but the 8.57 she then needed to overtake first never materialized.
It’s still an exceptional accomplishment for Hamilton to compete at this level and put on such a good performance. She heard cheers from the crowd with every crisp turn and it would have been great to see her continue. Maybe she’ll receive another WSL wild card at some other stop down the road.
Alessa Quizon is into the third round for the second straight contest after topping Silvana Lima in her elimination heat. Quizon has only gotten this far three times this season and has not yet made a round five. She’s going to need her QS ranking to get her back on tour, but any deep CT runs will be a big confidence boost.
Carissa Moore and Tatiana Weston-Webb each won their first-round heats to skip directly to round three. They and Quizon are the only Hawaii surfers left in the women’s draw and will all compete in non-elimination heats when action resumes.
The Hurley Pro on the men’s side ended for the day just before Sebastian Zietz’s elimination matchup with Michel Bourez. That will be the first heat in the water.
Both John John Florence and Dusty Payne lost their second-round heats, giving them equal 25th-place results.
But one of the biggest stories of the week is Freddy Patacchia Jr. announcing his presumed retirement from the CT. After winning his opening heat on an 18.90 total, Patacchia said it would be his final CT heat so he can spend more time with his family and give back to the youth of Hawaii. I’m sure we’ll see him at some QS stops, which he indicated was likely, but the world tour will be losing one of its most senior members and a fan favorite.
Mahalo, Freddy P!
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.