The Last Mile

The boys on the bubble for 2015 World Tour

Keanu Photo: ASP
Keanu Asing, a few well-surfed waves away from a berth on the 2015 World Tour. Photo: ASP

For the past decade, Keanu Asing has been training for what could happen next. He tries to calm his nerves, but the stakes are too high. As it stands today, he’s just a few heats away from turning his World Tour dreams into a reality. “I try not to think about it,” he says, “but I can’t help it. It’s always there. I think I’m good…I hope I’m good. But you never really know until Sunset is over.”

As Keanu alluded, he’s one of 10 surfers on the World Tour bubble. With the final day looming, his lifelong ambitions seem as if they’re only a well-surfed wave away. Currently rated just outside of the ‘QS top 10, if Keanu can better his position slightly, he’ll break on though to the World Tour. All that stands in his way is one day at a wave notorious for throwing curveballs at the best-laid plans.

If the qualification process seems at all confusing, here’s the gist: The top 22–ranked surfers on the World Tour will requalify. The tail end of the new World Tour roster (which features 32 surfers) is made up of the top 10 surfers from the qualifying series. Because many World Tour surfers will double qualify, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what will happen until the final horn blows at Sunset, ending the ’QS season. And that’s where we find Keanu Asing, along with a host of other World Tour hopefuls. One shaky foot on the WT; one on the grind of the ’QS. For Keanu to leave nothing to chance, he’ll have to finish 13th at Sunset.

Approaching the cut, there are a number of other high-profile names who needed big results coming into Hawaii. Jeremy Flores, who’s been on Tour for eight years, found himself ranked 33rd on the World Tour heading into the Triple Crown. Flores, who was fined for an unsportsmanlike incident at J-Bay and subsequently banned from the U.S. Open and Teahupoo, had an uphill battle ahead of him to say the least. But at Haleiwa, needing a massive result, Jeremy made the finals and moved back into World Tour contention.

“I had a pretty terrible year but I felt pretty comfortable coming into Hawaii. I didn’t put any pressure on myself,” Flores said. “I was planning on taking it one heat at a time and ended up making the finals at Haleiwa which really helped me with the points. So far, it’s working out.”

Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz, who broke out onto the world stage with a monumental showing in the 2012 Triple Crown, is another surfer on the cusp of requalification. Today, Seabass finds himself precariously positioned 22nd on the World Tour and ranked 80 on the ’QS, with absolutely no chance of qualifying through that circuit. For him to keep his World Tour career alive, he’ll have to put on a solid showing at Pipe.

According the ASP’s Tour Manager, if World Tour surfers Filipe Toledo, Jadson Andre, and Julian Wilson (who’s 21st on the WT and fifth on the ’QS) can requalify via the World Tour, your ‘QS Top 10 will look something like this:

Matt Banting (AUS)
Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Adam Melling (AUS)
Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Brett Simpson (USA)
Keanu Asing (HAW)
Tomas Hermes (BRA) 
Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Jack Freestone (AUS)

However, there are a few surfers knocking on the door with a chance to crack that list of 10. Here are the names, and how they finish at Sunset will determine their qualification scenario.

Charly Martin (GLP)
Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Dusty Payne (HAW)
Billy Stairmand (NZL)
Garrett Parkes (AUS)
Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
Davey Cathels (AUS)
Beyrick De Vries (ZAF)
Wade Carmichael (AUS)

When it comes to the final mile of the marathon that is the ‘QS, Sunset has shown us that unforeseen hurdles and shakeups aren’t only likely, they’re practically inevitable. We’ll see come Finals day.