This is going to be a good week for anyone with strong multitasking abilities. A confluence of events has merged to make Monday part of the most action-packed surfing week of the year.
On Saturday, the official green light turned on for the Jaws Challenge, bringing some of the world’s most renowned big-wave surfers to Peahi, Maui to be a part of the monster swell rolling into Hawaii.
Mike Parsons, the WSL Big Wave Tour commissioner, said Saturday that Monday’s forecast looks to be in the 35- to 45-foot face range at Jaws. If that all holds to form, it should be an epic day on Maui’s north shore.
Just slightly further to the west, the final women’s Championship Tour event of the season gets the jump on Jaws, getting started today with the Maui Pro at Honolua Bay. The women’s world title race is coming down to just Stephanie Gilmore and Lakey Peterson, who have each had plenty of time off to await this opportunity. Gilmore has the huge advantage, but she will be shouldering all the pressure in the early rounds as she attempts to win her seventh career world title.
Gilmore can clinch the crown by reaching the semifinals, but she also wins if Peterson exits at any point without winning the event. If Gilmore takes a fifth or worse and Peterson wins the contest, the pair will be tied for the season and have a surf-off to determine the 2018 champion.
Alana Blanchard and Bethany Hamilton have each received wild cards into the event, joining CT regulars Tatiana Weston-Webb and Malia Manuel to give Kauai four competitors in the contest. This is Blanchard’s first CT event since 2014, her last year as a full-time competitor. She has since become a mother and participated in just one or two Qualifying Series contests each season. But she surfed very well at the Los Cabos Open this past summer, taking a ninth-place result.
Hamilton has pulled off some big upsets in her wild card appearances over the past few seasons, but she wasn’t able to get much going at this year’s Surf Ranch Pro. Maui would be a great place to showcase her skills once again, especially if the conditions are sizable as anticipated.
The second heat of round one will feature what could be the greatest collection of Hawaii wahine talent in one lineup as Carissa Moore, Coco Ho and Hamilton go up against one another. Blanchard will take on Gilmore and Sage Erickson in heat three.
Manuel will face Peterson, as well as another young Hawaii talent in heat four as Zoe McDougall will be making her CT debut. The 18-year-old from Sunset Beach seems to be next in line to make a run at the world tour, now that Brisa Hennessy has qualified and is set for her rookie season in 2019. McDougall finished the QS season ranked 31st in the world.
Summer Macedo makes her anticipated debut one heat later against Weston-Webb and Nikki Van Dijk. Macedo, 18, gets to do so on her home island after a breakout season that saw her finish 23rd on the QS.
Eight of the 18 wahine in the event hail from Hawaii and this is a contest that has favored the locals in the past, specifically Moore. She won it in 2014 and 2015, then finished runner-up in 2016. Manuel was runner-up last season, equaling her best result on the world tour.
As if those two contests weren’t enough, the second leg of the Triple Crown also gets underway today with the World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach. The story will be whether Joel Parkinson can add to his current lead as he hopes to pick up his fourth career Triple Crown in his final season on tour. Parko has a bye into round three, where he and Sebastian Zietz await two advancing competitors to join their four-man heat.
Evan Valiere will start things off in the very first heat. The Hanalei surfer celebrated a birthday this weekend and will get to test out the lineup early, the first of 30 Hawaii competitors scheduled to get going in the opening round.
So those in the water won’t be the only ones needing to use priority wisely. There is a very good chance all three contests will be in action on Monday. Onlookers have to prioritize where to focus their attention, but there are good options everywhere.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.