COUNTING DOWN TO HAWAII
The gap between the European leg of the World Championship Tour and Hawaii’s epic showdown is one of the largest that the pros have all year. There’s two months between Portugal and Pipeline that the WCT campaigners and ‘QS hopefuls all approach in different ways depending on the consequences of the next event – Parko and Taj are out of the title race but still ensconced in top 10, Owen Wright has successfully made his return to form after a serious back injury, and most of our fair country’s stalwarts from Josh Kerr to Bede Durbidge can allow themselves somewhat of a breather after securing their place on tour next year.
But it’s the title contenders who are at the top of everyone’s newsfeeds – all three are preparing in trademark fashion for a decider that could go down as one of the best ever. Mick is making the most of spring on the Gold Coast by surfing Dbah and spending some well-deserved time at home, Gabe is kissing babies in Maresias and Kelly is testing boards at Cloudbreak. With representatives from a triumvirate of surfing superpowers, it’s somewhat fitting that in the first year of Zosea’s new tour, each is far and away the most competitive and professional of their respective generations.
It’s the middle of November, though, and the Triple Crown is looming large following the completion of O’neill’s Sao Paulo Prime and the HIC Sunset Pro. On the Aussie front, Julian Wilson banked a quarter final finish in Brazil to further his chances of requalifying and Matt Banting added yet another final to his 2014 resume, guaranteeing his status as a 2015 WCT rookie. Meanwhile on the North Shore, Danny Fuller (the Hawaiian freesurfer who modelled for Chanel) won at Sunset, beating out Freddy P, Mason Ho and Billy Kemper in an all-Hawaiian final. With only days before the commencement of the Triple Crown’s waiting period, forecasts are showing a swell in the double to triple overhead range en route to Halewia, ensuring that the opening jewel of the fabled series will be much more compelling than the last few years (at least in early rounds).
There’s a lot more to consider too – Kelly and CJ are both battling injures, while Taj is definitely out of Pipe due to a niggling injury he sustained shooting at The Right with Mark Matthews. The Prince of Yallingup will miss only his second event in 17 years on tour to recover from shoulder surgery, but it’s a small price to pay if we get to watch him perform at 100% again next year. Then perhaps most exciting of all is the prospect of The Eddie getting a green light. Will we see the first gladiatorial battle at Waimea since the last time it ran five years ago? Will the Pipeline Masters provide a fitting spectacle for a historic World Title showdown? It’s times like this we’re glad the Pacific is as large as it is. Anything can happen, but as long as there’s a lot of swell, we’ll be happy.