1. Colapinto, Hermes and Cardoso Punch 2018 CT Tickets
Although the Commissioner's office loathes to confirm qualification rumors prematurely, the broadcast team worked closely with WSL's lead statistician, Al Hunt, to determine that Griffin Colapinto, Tomas Hermes and Willian Cardoso are the three newest members of the 2018 Championship Tour. Both Hermes' and Cardoso's paths to the CT are compelling stories, full of passion, pain and perseverance, while Colapinto's story is that of a rising surf prodigy. His prolific North Shore skill set could make him a perennial Triple Crown threat. Each surfer will be welcome additions to the Tour in their own right.
2. Only 450 points Separate QS No. 7 from No. 12
The difference between No. 12 Filipe Toledo and No. 7 Keanu Asing is less than 500 points, a total equal to less than progressing through one extra round at Sunset Beach, site of the next Triple Crown contest. But, Toledo stunned the crowd when he stated after his Hawaiian Pro victory that he will skipping the Vans World Cup to focus on the final Championship Tour (CT) event at Pipe. Toledo's decision leaves the door cracked for a number of lower-ranked surfers to leap over his position into the qualification zone.
Lurking dangerously nearby is No. 10 Italo Ferreira, up four spots, who looks relaxed and in lethal form. If Ferreira were to qualify via the CT (or take one of two injury wildcards in 2018) it would reverberate up and down the rankings in terms of who's in and who's out for the 2018 elite CT.
3. The Great Escape
You can file this one under statistical oddities: When the Championship Tour crew dominate QS10,000 events like the Hawaiian Pro and gobble up most of the big points available (just as they did at Haleiwa with six out of eight Semifinalists), QS ratings leaders skated away from Haleiwa surprisingly unscathed. Even with less-than-stellar results at Haleiwa, No. 7 Keanu Asing, No. 8 Wade Carmichael and No. 9 Ezekiel Lau are OK (for now). Falling down the leaderboard just one spot, Asing's dilemma is that his poor results are too good to make a difference when his lowest finish is dropped at the end of the year. He'll need to at least make the Quarterfinals at Sunset to improve his position, as he's dropping a low result of 3000 points. Carmichael and Lau's positions remained unchanged, with both surfers surprisingly improving their point totals despite their disappointing results at Haleiwa. All three surfers have strong acts at Sunset, how they deal with the pressure will be must-watch viewing for the Vans World Cup.
4. Where's the Shakeup?
Despite all of the pressure-packed implications, there was very little shakeup among the Top 25 on the rankings, especially considering that two of the biggest movers, Filipe Toledo and Jordy Smith, will qualify easily via the CT. While not completely cut off from the chase pack, No. 14 Michael February, No. 16 Jorgann Couzinet and No. 19 Nat Young all dropped four positions, but they'll have one final chance to rebound at the Vans World Cup to keep their hopes alive.
Leonardo Fioravanti, the Italian CT surfer who was a rookie this season, most likely will not qualify via the CT. But so far in Hawaii, he has improved his position by 12 spots, up to No. 21. He's dropping a low score of 700, but will probably need to make the Final at Sunset to get inside the cutoff line. Wiggolly Dantas, who finished in third place at the Hawaiian Pro and has competed in just three QS events all year, went from No. 305 to No. 48, vaulting up 257 spots. The Brazilian, who made the decision to focus on the CT this season, will essentially be resting any qualification hopes via the QS on two results -- Sunset and Haleiwa. But, with only one event remaining, it may be a bridge too far.
5. Reeling in the Pacesetter
It took almost the entire season, but someone finally caught up to runaway New Era QS leader Jesse Mendes. Now situated at No. 2, Colapinto is just over 2000 points behind Mendes. The Californian is within striking distance of the Brazilian, who's been sitting in the catbird seat since the Australian leg nine months ago. Besides the cache of taking the QS title, winning the QS also means securing the best seeding into the 2018 CT heat draw, meaning they'll face lower seeded CT surfers in the first rounds. With that said, it didn't seem to help 2016 QS champ Connor O'Leary much this season, so you can draw your own conclusions as to its relative importance.
Catch all the hopefuls clash once again at the Vans World Cup, starting Saturday, Nov. 25, live on the WSL.