Finals day at the Supergirl Pro is like a finals day at a Championship Tour event. The star power that entered this year’s contest surpasses just about every other Qualifying Series stop this and most other years.
But a lot of notable names were knocked out in the dangerous multi-woman heats over the first two days of action. Included on the casualty list were Tatiana Weston-Webb, Lakey Peterson, Alessa Quizon, Brianna Cope, Paige Hareb, Dimity Stoyle, Bianca Buitendag, Keely Andrew, Bailey Nagy and Mainei Kinimaka.
We’re now down to 16 today in Oceanside, Calif., including Malia Manuel. It’s only one-on-one heats from here on out, so the variables are beginning to minimize.
While projecting a winner is always tricky in these large events, I think Manuel will work her way into the final heat. Her half of the draw is slightly more forgiving than the other and her matchups seem favorable.
She’ll open today against Ecuador’s Dominic Barona, who is having a terrific year. Barona finished second at the Los Cabos Open of Surf, one of the competitors’ favorite contests. That result has helped move her into a tie for seventh on the QS this season.
The rest of the draw’s top half features Mahina Maeda, Laura Enever and Sage Erickson all having a good chance to reach the quarterfinals. They all have CT experience, but I’d make Manuel the favorite to emerge on this wave.
The bottom half of the draw is a bit scarier, headlined by three-time world champion Carissa Moore. Moore is a rare entrant in any QS contests with this being just her fifth in the past five years. But she’s the clear favorite among all remaining wahine, some of whom will probably never get a chance to surf against Moore again.
That half also features Nikki Van Dijk, Silvana Lima, Coco Ho and Bronte Macaulay. That would be a fierce foursome even without Moore’s presence, but they will all have their work cut out for them if they plan to reach the final.
While this event is always the biggest women’s contest of the season, it’s also one of the most varied in terms of competitors. That was demonstrated with the surfer spectrum ranging from a big-wave legend like Keala Kennelly to Kilauea’s Gabriela Bryan. At just 14 years old, Bryan made it all the way from round one to round five, finishing ahead of almost two-thirds of the field.
It’s by far the best pro result Bryan has experienced and the stage should provide her some momentum as she tries to emulate other Kauai wahine.
For Manuel, Moore and the other CT women, there’s a quick turnaround after today. The U.S. Open of Surfing, which kicks off the season’s second half, begins its waiting period Monday.
It’s not too far from Oceanside to Huntington Beach, so the competitors all get a chance to experience both events.
This is certainly one of the biggest weeks of the year for women’s surfing and, luckily, we’ve got some amazing competitors left in today’s field.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.