The Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach is far and away my favorite QS event on tour. And no, it's not because of the waves (although entertainingly unpredictable). Nor is it because of its warm, island backdrop or the stacked field of competition. It is because of the consequences that coincide with its results.
In the eyes of a QS warrior, Sunset means one thing, and one thing only – a final decision on who will be claiming the CT stage come the next competitive season. And this year proves to be no different. As it stands, it's fair to say that about 18,000 points will guarantee you a spot on the dream tour. So with crucial qualifying points up for grabs, it's really anyone's game. Well, anyone hovering above or around 10,000 points with a low event score to replace.
All last ditch efforts, all rabbits residing in hats, all tricks up all sleeves – their time to shine is now. Here's a who we're hoping will reveal them:
Federico Morais –He's a Portuguese wildcat who's earned his salt at Sunset in the past. Fede made Round 4 last year and finished 4th overall in 2013. Currently sitting at 10th on the Q with 16,010 points, Morais is hoping for a Quarterfinal finish to secure his chances – and we know he's more than capable.Frederico Morais, a proven threat. Photo: Hammonds
Evan Geiselman – Aside from the fact that a 2017 CT berth for Evan would be a Cinderella story after his nightmare of an injury last year, Ev's surfing is thoroughly enjoyable. He's got style and flow that's easy on the eyes and an explosive whip game to boot. A Quarterfinal finish would get him well within range, Semis would solidify.The backhand that will come in handy. Photo: Hammonds
Zeke Lau – He's won here in the past, and he could easily win it again. Which begs the question… Could this be the year that Z makes his inevitable debut? It's been a long time coming for the Hawaiian powerhouse and boy would we appreciate seeing that power on tour. Zeke's got the heart, and the head for success on the main stage, all he needs to do is get there. With only 150 points between Evan and Zeke (and Evan's low score being 50 points higher than Zeke's) they're looking for virtually the same result at Sunset.Jack’s techincally got two chances at the 2017 CT, if he can sneak through a few of these he’ll only need one. Photo: Hammonds
Jack Freestone – Okay, maybe we're a little biased after our project this year with Jack, but have you seen his surfing?? Who in their right mind wouldn't want to keep that on tour? Rhetorical asks aside, if Jack's low score of a 700 is refreshed with something in the Quarters (which is where he finished last year after narrowly missing the semis on a countback) or above, we've got him back for the 2017 season.
Tanner Gudauskas – Tanner's a passion pick for us. After making the tour in 2010 during its regretful, tennis-loving days, the blossoming goofyfoot fell victim to the cruel mid-year cutoff. We've seen Tanner go glove to glove with the best in the business at his homebreak as a Hurley Pro wildcard, but the San Clemente native's prowess in more powerful surf is nothing to sleep on. He'll get vengeance with the CT if he can pull off a result north of 3rd.Griffin’s Haleiwa heroics. Photo: Heff/WSL
- Young Buck:
Griffin Colapinto – The kid's got promise – there's no denying that. Now, whether or not he's prepped for the big show is another discussion. But I'm a firm believer that there's no better way to acclimate than by simply putting rubber to the road. As it stands, Griffin's a long shot, but remember, this is Hawaii – where the only thing that's more abundant than delicious pulled-pork is opportunity. After claiming a 9th at Haleiwa, Colapinto's got himself a taste of blood. All he's to do now is get 2nd place or the win at Sunset to claim his spot on the 2017 CT. Easy enough, right? –Dayton Silva