Saturday included perhaps the most stacked heat a Qualifying Series women’s event has ever seen, which meant it had to end disappointingly for someone. That someone turned out to be Carissa Moore, who had the misfortune of going up against Courtney Conlogue and Silvana Lima in the fifth round of the Supergirl Pro.
Of the 120 entrants, just 16 remain and a champion will be crowned today in Oceanside, Calif. The winner will be awarded 6,000 QS points and $10,000.
With Moore, Conlogue and Lima matched up against one another, it was the only heat to feature three full-time Championship Tour competitors. Despite being the lowest-ranked on the CT, Lima surfed by far the best heat. She started with an 8.00 and continued to back it up until improving up to an 8.67 to rest comfortably in the lead.
Conlogue and Moore battled it out for the second advancing position with third place going home. They traded scores, but Moore was the one needing to improve late. She went after a few waves, but none gave the scoring potential she needed to overcome the deficit. Moore took third for an equal 17th finish as the other two moved on to round five.
From there until the contest’s completion, there will be only head-to-head heats as the field narrows to a champion. Though Moore is out of the action, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Coco Ho and Summer Macedo continue to represent Hawaii on finals day.
Weston-Webb is perfect so far, winning each of her multiway heats, though each time she had to eliminate a Hawaii wahine to advance. She was matched up with Alessa Quizon in round three and Zoe McDougall in round four, neither of whom made it into the top two. But Tati rolled through both heats and now finds herself in a matchup with Portugal’s Carol Henrique. On paper, it’s a huge advantage for Weston-Webb. Henrique has good results this year with a QS win and a second place, but both were at much smaller contests. Her experience against CT and even the top tier QS surfers is limited. In a one-on-one format, Tati is a huge favorite.
Unfortunately, Ho and Macedo will have to go up against each other in the final heat of round five. As defending contest champ, Ho has the edge on her young Maui counterpart. But Macedo is on a bit of a roll of her own, having won the Governor’s Cup Under 18 title in June. Either will be a threat moving forward.
Also still in the event are Conlogue, Lima, Sage Erickson, Bianca Buitendag, Keely Andrew, Meah Collins, Caroline Marks, Leilani McGonagle, Claire Bevilacqua, Kobie Enright, Holly Wawn and Philippa Anderson.
Buitendag has both the toughest challenge and the most to gain. After finishing the 2015 season in fourth place on the CT, the South African fell off the tour in 2016 and needs to find her way back through the QS. She took a small step in that direction with a ninth place at the Los Cabos Open of Surf, but these would be 6,000 very important points if she is able to run the table today. It would move her from 39th into the top 10 and give her a legitimate chance to reclaim her once secure position.
But that would have to begin with a win over Conlogue, who must be considered the favorite of the 16 remaining. Buitendag needs to leap her highest hurdle at the very start in order to take home a major result.
However, I see the final four coming down to Tati, Conlogue, Marks and Erickson. From there, it’s anyone’s title to win. Hopefully O-Side provides.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.