Here’s How The 2018 Surfing World Title Will Unfold
This is a complicated time of year in surfing. There are numbers and formulas going round and round, rumours and speculation as to who can win what or get what points to get where. I’m not a numbers person so this stuff does my head in. Luckily we’ve got the pros to wrangle the complete and official scenarios for the 2017 Surfing World Champion that will be decided at the Maui Pro starting on 25 November.
In the mix for World Champ we have Sally Fitzgibbons, Courtney Conlogue, Tyler Wright, Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore.
The WSL have published the following; “Sally, Tyler and Courtney can all win the World Title by winning the Maui Pro but if Sally and Tyler both get 3rd, and Courtney doesn’t make the Final, the World Title goes to Tyler and if Sally and Tyler both get 5th, Courtney doesn’t make the Semifinals, and Steph or Carissa don’t win, the World Title goes to Tyler.”
Potentially this is Sally Fitzgibbons’s year, right now it’s all playing in her favour and she’s got Barton Lynch as coach, now in her corner. The best result she’s achieved is runner up twice, and that was in her first two years on the WCT (2010 & 2011). Two second places aren’t gonna cut it for Sal. The Australian powerhouse wants that World Championship trophy so (SO) bad and I’m not entirely sure she’ll stop until she gets it. Her surfing will do the talking in Maui. Can the 26-year-old come home with the goods? The WSL says, “Sally can dip out of the event early but Tyler can’t finish 5th or better. Courtney can’t get 3rd, and Stephanie and Carissa can’t win.”
TYLER (Currently in 2nd)
Tyler definitely hasn’t had the success she had last year with a near flush of event wins. In 2016 Tyler won five events, that’s half of all on offer. It was the year that she recruited Glenn ‘Micro’ Hall as her coach and flicked the switch into the winners zone. Her maiden World Title was claimed in France, and weren’t we all stoked. This year Tyler has had just one event win, she damaged her medial cruciate ligament in Portugal but still surfed in France, in which she placed second. With the incredible attention, she would be receiving for the rehab of that injury right now, there’s no doubt she’ll still be in form and not letting her World Title X 2 chance slip away. It will be a tight rivalry between the two NSW South Coast girls who have proven their worth under the injury cloud. The WSL have said that “Tyler needs at least a 5th, but Sally can’t finish in front of her. Courtney can’t get 3rd or better. Steph and Carissa can’t win.”
COURTNEY (Currently in 3rd)
When you talk to Courtney you can see a fire in her eyes. It’s similar to Sally, but with Courtney, it feels a little more intense. Like Sally, Courtney has two runner up years under her belt from 2015 and 2016 and she’s looking to make that final first place podium position in Maui. Courtney has had two wins this year, at Bells and Fiji, but has slid a little out of form in the last couple of events. In saying that, she got a third at Maui last year, so we know she’s got the skills required for the famous Honolua Bay right-hander. The WSL have said that for Courtney to get her first World Title, “she needs at least a 3rd, but can only win the World Title if she finishes ahead of Tyler and Sally.”
Since first joining the WCT in 2010 Carissa has only ever finished the year with first and third place. Specifically, she’s a three times World Champ and a four times third placer. Carissa is due to be married pretty soon and wedding planning is a tough gig, I mean, it’s like being a full-time event organiser. Thing is, Carissa, knows how to play the game at Honolua, she’s previously won the event twice and had a second in the other. So, that could really put a spanner in the works for Sally and Tyler who aren’t as consistent in the Maui waters. Despite having one of her slowest years on tour, she’s been hard in training and we’re expecting to see her, as always, throwing hundreds of buckets of spray. The WSL has said that “Carissa needs to win the event, but Sally and Tyler can’t get better than 5th, and Courtney can’t make the Final.” Totally do-able, it’s just a case of the others bombing out.
STEPH (Currently in 5th)
Steph Gilmore kicked off 2017 with a bang and got us all pretty excited when she won at her home break at Snapper Rocks. The six time World Champion fell off the wagon a little after Snapper but her solid results in the first quarter of the year were enough to lock away her current position. She’s still got an outsider’s chance though, and with Steph, anything is possible, after all, she’s a SIX time World Champ. For Steph to make in number seven and match the legend Layne Beachley, the WSL says she “needs to win the event, but Sally and Tyler can’t get better than 5th, and Courtney can’t make the Final.” Still possible, I’ll say it again. If you’re on team Steph, stay strong.
THE SURFLINE FORECAST
“A new shot of North swell will build in over the second half of Sunday with overhead to well overhead sets showing for Honolua Bay on Monday morning. After that, a pair of shadowed yet good size NW swells are looking to move in Wed-Fri (29th-1st) with overhead+ surf. Strong ENE Trades are expected for at least the next several days. Another possible NW pulse for around the 4th-5th.”
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Johanne Defay (FRA), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), Brisa Hennessy (HAW)
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Keely Andrew (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Coco Ho (HAW)
Alrighty, this is the heavy bit. Some of my faves are dangling just outside the bubble but are looking to be double qualifiers with big results in the QS this year. At the end of the year, the top ten female surfers on the WCT are safe and the bottom six drop off, unless they have been working hard in the QS. The annoying thing for most QS surfers is that if those bottom six all have good results there’s less chance of them making it because there are less positions up for grabs.
So here’s what the final QS ladder looks like with really not much likely to change after the Maui event.
The top 6 automatically qualify:
1. Johanne Defay (FRA) – currently #9 on WCT, double qualifier
2. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) – currently #11 on WCT
3. Silvana Lima (BRA) – currently #12 on WCT
4. Bronte Macauley (AUS) – currently #17 on WCT
5. Coco Ho (HAW) – currently #13 on WCT
6. Sage Erickson (USA) – currently #7 on WCT, double qualifier
7. Caroline Marks (USA) – will be the Rookie in 2018 as the only non-returner
8. Keely Andrew (AUS) – currently #10 on WCT, double qualifier
9. Paige Hareb (NZL) – was on tour from 2010-14 before slipping off
10. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
DOUBLE QUALIFICATION GAMES
Due to double qualification, (where a surfer ends the year above the top 10 in the WCT and in the top 6 of the QS), Caroline Marks and Paige Hareb will join the WCT in 2018. Caroline Marks will be the youngest competitor ever on the World Championship Tour (*temp. unconfirmed).
The WSL have told us “Exactly who qualifies on each tour will be confirmed in Maui, but at the moment the 9th and 10th spot on the WCT are being contested by Johanne, Tatiana, Keely and Silvana – all who cancel each other out between the WCT/WQS double qualifiers. So they will be on the 2018 WCT, but we don’t know as a WCT qualifier or a WQS qualifier yet. For example, If Defay and Andrew hold their Top 10 CT spots then the Top 6 QS are: Lima, Weston-Webb, Macaulay, Ho, Marks and Hareb. If Defay and or Andrew drop out of the Top 10 CT they would only be replaced by Weston-Webb or Lima, so take their QS spots.”
Finally, Macy Callaghan, who narrowly missed out on qualification by not making the final at the Port Stephens Pro event, “will most probably take the place of first replacement but this will be confirmed in Maui.”
So there we have it. I did say it was a mouthful, but if you can get your head around this you’ll understand just how tight and intense this last month is. And there’s nothing better than a tight title and qualification race, it’s why we love sport.