Tatiana Weston-Webb has left little to chance, closing out her Qualifying Series season with a final heat appearance in New South Wales. The second-place result at the Port Stephens NSW Pro completes a fantastic QS run for Weston-Webb, who ends the year ranked second on the QS and assured of a spot on next season’s Championship Tour.
Despite not winning an event, Tati was a finals day regular, reaching five quarterfinal rounds in QS 6,000 contests, which kept her towards the top of the leaderboard from start to finish. No other surfer exhibited that level of consistency and the fact that she finished ahead of all but one wahine without winning an event just shows how locked in she has been all season.
Her final standing removes any pressure from the year’s last CT contest, the Maui Women’s Pro, coming up later this month. Currently ranked 11th on the world tour, Weston-Webb can surf for fun and competition, rather than chasing points and a top-10 ranking.
With her seeding moving her into a round-four start in Port Stephens, Tati won five straight multi-woman and head-to-head heats before finding herself in the final against Johanne Defay. While it was all academic in terms of qualification, the winner would finish atop the QS ladder. That turned out to be Defay, who takes the No. 1 QS ranking after competing in just four events. A pair of victories and one second place were enough to earn that honor.
The results are good for young American Caroline Marks, who will find herself apart of next year’s dream tour. Marks finishes the QS season in seventh position, but with Sage Erickson essentially guaranteed to stay in the CT top 10, Marks will move up into the sixth qualifying spot and make her rookie debut in 2018.
Keely Andrew is almost a certainty to return the to CT, as well. She finishes one spot below Marks in eighth place, but if Defay holds onto her CT top 10 spot, then Andrew will also re-qualify. And if Defay were to fall out of the top 10, it would likely mean that Andrew would be moving up into that position anyway, so some very odd things would have to happen for Andrew to fall off tour.
New Zealand’s Paige Hareb looks to be the odd woman out, as she is one spot down in ninth place. That won’t be good enough given the rest of the leaderboard and she’ll have to put in the full QS schedule again next season to get back on the CT after falling off in 2014.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for much of Tati’s CT season, despite a pair of back-to-back runner-up finishes. Despite more struggles than she’s used to, her QS performances were predictably stellar and she’ll have another chance to move into the world title race next year.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.