The giving spirit alive and well on Kauai

Before getting into anything having to do with winning and losing this week, I wanted to first make a quick mention regarding something that happened to me last week and caught me a bit off guard.

I’ve seen stories or secondhand posts about people who decide to pay for the person behind them in a grocery store or drive-thru window, but I’ve never seen it happen in person. So I was a little stunned and admittedly flummoxed when I was at the Foodland register and the woman behind me in line told the cashier she was paying for my items.

I quickly tried to say no and I countered by saying she could pay for mine if I could then pay for hers 30 seconds later, but she insisted. She said that she’s trying to do a random act of kindness every day and this was her attempt this particular evening. Without saying much, I gave her a hug and still felt like I wasn’t necessarily gracious enough.

I didn’t ask her name at the time, which bothered me minutes later. But I realized that since I asked her to at least enter her Maikai number for my items so she’d get the reward points, her name showed up on my receipt.

So if anyone who reads this knows Kiana Kaahanui, hopefully she’ll get word of my appreciation. Her gesture really stuck with me, as it will for quite a while. I also think we can all take her lead and offer a good deed without expectation of anything in return, which only seems appropriate this time of year.

Mother Nature was in the giving spirit for periods of time Saturday, but it wasn’t steady enough for WSL commissioner Kieren Perrow to put any heats in the water for the Billabong Pipe Masters. Winds and not waves were the most costly factor, but there looks to be a nice three-day window starting today that could open some prime Backdoor.

Round one was a mixed bag in smallish conditions, but most of the top seeds survived their three-man heats. Julian Wilson, Matt Wilkinson, Jordy Smith and Gabriel Medina all moved straight to round three prior to John John Florence showing why he’s become the front runner at any event he enters, especially in Hawaii. Florence put up day one’s top heat total with a 16.66.

Filipe Toledo and Kelly Slater each went on to win their respective heats, but Miguel Pupo, Alex Ribeiro, Jeremy Flores, Italo Ferreira and Michel Bourez all came from lower seeds to win. They’re all spectators for the elimination matchups in round two that have very real consequences for those in and out of the competition.

The final two heats of round two will be the really juicy ones, with Nat Young taking on Jadson Andre and Keanu Asing facing Kanoa Igarashi. Young and Asing are dueling with one another for that 22nd spot in the rankings with Young currently holding the slight edge. Neither has qualified via the Qualifying Series, so each needs to gain some ground to be back next year.

For Asing, his exclusion would be a first in the WSL. No surfer has ever won a CT contest and not re-qualified for the following season. Asing won the Quiksilver Pro France back in October, taking out Florence and Medina for the title.

But Ezekiel Lau will be cheering on both Andre and good friend Igarashi. They are the next two in the CT rankings and both have already qualified via the QS. If either can jump ahead of Young and Asing, Lau would qualify for the 2017 world tour for the first time.

That foursome contains all the ingredients for who will be back next season, but an earlier heat has Triple Crown implications.

Former Triple Crown champion Sebastian Zietz will take on current Triple Crown leader Frederico Morais. After earning an injury wild card to continue his Triple Crown charge, Morais can put more pressure on other hopefuls by progressing further at Pipeline. His back-to-back second-place finishes in the first two legs have him positioned nicely, but Florence and Smith can take the title from him with a deep run.

It’s a time of giving, but none of these competitors will be handing a heat win to an opponent. Those most affected are positioned within a small window, so our focus can remain narrow to observe the consequences.

The call will likely come this morning, unless things change drastically on Oahu’s North Shore. With three days remaining in the waiting period, much of the waiting is certainly behind us.

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