That being said, Sebastian is within striking distance of WCT requalification with a solid result or two; Dusty not so much. On the World Qualifying Series side these two have a bit more work to do. Both are hovering around the lower 30s and the cut is technically at the top ten, but will drop to the top thirteen or possibly further with some WCT double qualifiers on the WQS. Do I think Dusty will tap into that magic of last year, winning an event in ultra-dramatic fashion, coming from deep in the QS field to qualify for the big show, and having the Triple Crown title just narrowly wrangled from his hands? No, but I certainly think he is capable of smashing some heats and earning the points needed to requalify. Especially if the waves are good and big. Sebastian needs to find a bit of mojo on the QS or the CT; totally doable.
Fred came on tour, Fred carried a Hawaiian flag with him to every tour stop, Fred had heart, Fred was fun to watch, Fred jumped on a rock, and Fred retired in grand fashion at Lowers. Bummer because he was one of the classic characters on tour, but another Hawaiian down for 2015.
Keanu may not have the flash or panache that other CT vets or young guns have, but the kid has heart and strategic foundation. Heart can go a long way and his searing desire to succeed is tangible through the computer screen. Keanu is another bubble boy and it appears he stacked most of his chips on the CT side of the table. As of October 21st he is sitting at number 75 on the WQS ratings and needs a whole heap of
points to qualify over there. Interesting given that 2015 was Keanu’s first year on the WCT and some thought he would have hit the WQS harder. A few more clutch heat wins here and there on the CT may see the Hawai‘i athlete just eek his way through the turnstile and back on the CT for 2016.
John John, he’s gnarly and will wave the Hawaiian flag on tour for a long time to come. Furthermore, betting on the 23-year-old to win a world title or two by the end of his CT career isn’t a bad idea either.
Hawaii young guns: Tanner Hendrickson is right there for CT qualification. Blazing his way through the U.S. Open last summer and finishing second. Tanner earned some cash, 8,000 points, and a real chance to graduate to the big leagues. In his current position it won’t take much for the Maui surfer to make the jump from QS to the CT, but there is still work to be done and a whole slew of hungry and very talented surfers looking to leap past him in the ratings.
Ezekiel Lau is going to have another look at qualification in 2015. He sits in that mid 30s QS range and a banger result at one of the three remaining QS 10,000s could see him on tour no problem. The kid is yoked, the kid is tatted, the kid has power, and he’s not screwing around. If Zeke isn’t on the CT in 2016 it won’t be long after before he is.
Some guys seem to be stuck in WQS purgatory for a long time before finally making the jump to the WCT or moving on with their lives. Granger Larsen has been knocking on the door for a few years now. Granger’s got steez, power, and some air game. It would be great to see Granger usurp the place of some of the tour’s less aesthetically pleasing surfers, but that will take some work as he is in the mid-50s of the QS. We figure he needs two solid results north of 5,000 points each to get on the WCT.
Josh Moniz and Mason Ho are in the bottom quartile of the QS as of writing. Both would make great additions to the tour given they ooze style, enthusiasm, and aloha. However, they are going to need a Hail Mary to make it this year. We group these two in with Zeke; one day they will probably qualify if that’s what they want to do. Or, Mason will keep doing airs over rocks and Josh will keep getting pitted and smashing lips, both while smiling of course.
This paints some sort of picture for the upper echelon of Hawai‘i’s top competitive surfers at the moment. The current WCT has a few American dudes lingering around, Australia is always going to be well represented as far as we can tell, Brazil has clawed its way into a legitimate force to be reckoned with in recent years, and a sprinkling of a few other countries have filled the WCT roster. For Hawai‘i, John John is going to be the anchor in the near and distant future with a smattering of other islanders flirting with WCT requalification, qualification, not making it, or falling off. It is a cruel, unforgiving world at times.
Surfing has changed a lot in the wake of some traumatic events and an influx of non-endemic dollars flowing in recent years. Pro surfers now have full time coaches, trainers, agents, corporate sponsors, and a laser focus. A long, long, way removed from pro surfing’s inception
when teenagers were sent out into the world to figure it out on their own more or less. Surfing originated in the islands and it would be a shame to have a pro surfing future without a strong group of Hawaiian surfers on tour representing the birthplace of the sport and the spirit of aloha. Fortunately there are still a lot of points out there for WCT qualification in 2016 with three WQS 10,000s to go. It’s not too farfetched of an idea that a few Hawaii surfers will flare up and nab a handful of coveted WCT spots either this year or in the near future. Stay tuned.