A full day in airports, eating packaged snacks and Starbucks, suffering through fitful sleeps sitting upright on long flights, hoping not to be seated next to an obese person or a screaming baby. Such are the joys of travel. And for Tour surfers who frequently make the long treks to the furthest reaches of the planet, those scenarios are amplified—and are only made tolerable by the possibility of an event win at the end of it all.
But for the women on the WQS who made the 10,000-mile trek to South Africa last week, that wasn’t an option. The Mr. Price Pro, which was moved this year from Durban to Ballito (30 miles north) in hopes of avoiding the late-June flat-spells that have routinely plagued the contest, proved once again to be seemingly cursed—this year, by too much swell. The massive storm that engulfed the area forced an early conclusion, as many of the girls had planned boat trips or unchangeable airline tickets and couldn’t push the event back another day, ending the event without a winner crowned.
“The girls were told Sunday that if the last four heats of the Round of 48 were run on Sunday, then we could see who was left in the event that could stay and possibly run another round first thing Monday morning,” said WQS Tour Manager Al Hunt. “The surf was big and super windy on Sunday arvo and they decided not to compete, which was a good call as it was very dangerous. Since they did not surf Sunday afternoon, then only the last four heats of the round would be run Monday morning and the event would be canceled, as 13 of the girls still in the event had to leave on Monday and could not change flights.”
The surfers were obviously disappointed, given the Qualifying Series’ already meager event schedule. Some of the discontented surfers even started a petition as an attempt to convince the ASP to finish the event. “Five of [the surfers] had already left for the airport so we could not have run anyway,” explains Hunt. “If there was any chance we could have kept going we would have, but with not all the girls there we had to stop.”
“When I first heard they were thinking about canceling it, I was pretty devastated because I’d just flown halfway around the world, wasting a lot of time and money for nothing,” says current WQS No. 6 Paige Hareb. “I think every girl wanted the comp to be finished. Everyone was really bummed about going all that way and having to share points and money, especially since this one was meant to be one of our major comps.”
In the end, each of the remaining 24 surfers all received =19th place, 1200 points, and $1,000 prize money.
“Some girls benefited while other girls didn’t,” explains Coco Ho, the WQS leader. “In my case, I’m not too worried about points, but it ended up keeping the ratings basically the same, which was a shame for girls surfing good and ready for a good result. It’s almost as if this event won’t count as a result in the end of the year—although it really dented the bank account!”
With just two more events secured on the Women’s WQS schedule (along with the tentative 6-star Triple Crown Haleiwa event marked for November, which currently may or may not run), the race for Tour qualification is already getting down to the wire.
“Right now there are only five 5-star or 6-star events, and all five count,” says Al Hunt. “However, we are also looking at changing the number [of events that count] back to four, as really there are only four-and-a-half events, not five, with Ballito canceled. This will be known shortly once the ASP Technical Committee review the request.”
Current WQS Top 10:
1 Moore,Carissa HAW 5820
1 Ho,Coco HAW 5820
3 Bevilacqua,Claire AUS 5600
4 Pellizzari,Ornella ARG 4925
5 Miley-Dyer,Jessi AUS 4860
6 Hareb,Paige NZL 4800
7 Curren,Lee Ann FRA 4760
8 Sanchez,Amandine FRA 4660
9 Robb,Nikita ZAF 4570
10 Donohoe,Amee AUS 4490