The ending to last season was a magical one for Ezekiel Lau as the Oahu pro qualified for the Championship Tour thanks to some clutch surfing from one of his best friends, Kanoa Igarashi. The Huntington rookie’s dramatic run to the final heat at the Pipe Masters secured Lau the final spot on this year’s world tour.
To make his way back for 2018, Lau may need a little more help down the stretch, but he took a huge step in that direction all on his own this week. At the QS 10,000 Billabong Pro Cascais, Lau outlasted 111 other competitors to take the title and propel himself all the way from 105th to 12th in the Qualifying Series rankings.
This season has been mostly just a CT grind for Lau, but as he’s currently 25th in the standings, he may need the QS to assure himself a sophomore campaign. The 10,000 points he just picked up give him a fantastic chance at finishing the year in the top 10. Even mediocre results at the final few QS stops will improve his ranking, since he has only minor results to this point.
It was a gauntlet full of close calls for Lau on the final two days of action. Three of his last four heat wins were by 1.07 points or less. His final two matchups were against CT regulars Frederico Morais and Italo Ferreira, with a win over the Brazilian for the championship.
The last time Lau won a contest was the 2013 Vans World Cup, which was a major win in its own right. This title probably equals that one, mostly because of the position in which he now finds himself as we get into the winter season.
Both Lau and Keanu Asing find themselves in great shape to return to the CT next year with their QS positions. Hopefully that would up the number of Hawaii men from three to four, along with John John Florence and Sebastian Zietz.
The final days of 2016 had Lau watching from the beach as his fate was decided. He probably won’t have that same experience again this year, but he has some work to do for himself in order to avoid a similar fate.
Moore, Manuel come away with big results
For the first time all season, Carissa Moore moved beyond the quarterfinal round of a Championship Tour contest. It somehow took eight contests for that to transpire, but it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Moore finished runner-up to Nikki Van Dijk at the Cascais Women’s Pro, moving up from ninth to seventh for the season. While she’s not out of the woods yet, it would take a very poor finish for her to fall out of the top 10 with two contests remaining.
Her finals day began with a win over Sage Erickson, then another over Malia Manuel before just falling short against Van Dijk, who picked up her first career CT title.
The semifinal showing for Manuel is a huge statement that she is back in form after her five-month layoff. She took down fellow Kauai wahine Tatiana Weston-Webb in the quarterfinals for her third head-to-head win of the event.
With both the CT men and women having quickly moved north to France, Manuel again knocked out Weston-Webb on Saturday. This time it came in just the second round of the Roxy Pro France and Manuel will enter third-round competition when action resumes.
The men didn’t get underway Saturday, but they’ll get the call today if the conditions cooperate.