Huge group of wahine all aiming for Supergirl title

With eight of the top 32 on the Qualifying Series from Hawaii, this week’s Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, Calif., will give them all a chance to move towards the top of the rankings and achieve that Championship Tour dream.

After Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb, who currently hold the fourth- and seventh-place spots on the QS leaderboard, Zoe McDougall, Alessa Quizon, Brisa Hennessy, Mahina Maeda, Bailey Nagy and Summer Macedo are all in that next grouping and hoping for some upward mobility. Quizon had been a CT regular until last season, so she needs to show off again throughout this QS slate in order to take her rightful place back on the dream tour.

With Manuel still out of action and recovering from injury, there are currently 18 Hawaii wahine scheduled to compete for the top prize of 6,000 QS points. Carissa Moore and defending Supergirl Pro champ, Coco Ho, join Tati from the CT grouping. The three of them will get the proper top-seed treatment with byes directly into the Round of 48.

I know I made a big deal about Jordy Smith taking the first QS 10,000 title in Ballito, South Africa and this is somewhat similar. But Moore is all the way down in eighth place on the CT at the moment. Tati is just behind her in 10th place. Each could theoretically (if not practically) need their QS ranking to get them back on tour. So while it seems like things are tilted in the direction of the CT surfers, that’s part of what makes finally getting on tour so coveted and special.

I’d like there to be a common-sense component in terms of CT surfers in QS events, where those who make up the very top of the CT leaderboard aren’t required/allowed to compete in QS contests, but that would be difficult to define and enforce. It also (unfortunately) wouldn’t apply this time around to any of the wahine because their rankings aren’t currently that strong. It might for someone like Courtney Conlogue, who is in the event while ranked fourth on the CT and the only double-event winner so far this season. But with just 10 automatic qualifiers compared to 17 on the men’s tour, it makes much more sense for the women to continue going for QS points when they can.

But back to this week’s agenda, the group of McDougall, Hennessy, Maeda, Nagy and Macedo all get a pass into the Round of 72. So they’ll need just one advancement-worthy heat to start mixing it up with the top seeds.

Kauai’s Brianna Cope starts off in the Round of 96. Cope enters the event ranked 58th and looking for this season’s breakout performance, like she experienced at the Los Cabos Open of Surf three years ago. She finished runner-up to Ho at that event, one that helped elevate her significantly in the world rankings.

Eight wahine will start in the opening Round of 120. If you want to feel old, six of them were born in the year 2000 or more recently. The group is comprised of Gabriela Bryan, Brittany Penaroza, Savanna Stone, Leila Riccobuano, Kelta O’Rourke, Keala Tomoda-Bannert, Summer Ivy and Kahanu Delovio. Bryan is the most experienced with some previous QS highlights, but they all have a chance to rocket up the rankings with just a few heat wins.

I know it’s a less iconic spot, but I think the waves are better in Oceanside than they are at Huntington Beach, so this week’s appetizer may be more interesting than next week’s main course. With 18 Hawaii competitors and just three days of heats, it should be a lot to take in.

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

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