The Vans Pro at Sunset Beach was only a 3,000 event, but it inspired some quite big shifts and adjustments. South African Davey Van Zyl was the event winner, and although he put on a dazzling display of power surfing in the grinding surf of Sunset beach in Hawaii, he personally will not be qualifying this year. On the WQS rankings he has gone to 83rd on the WQ rankings, a leap of 90 positions with his win, but will not be getting over the line for the 2020 Championship Tour.
More interestingly however is the situation of Ezekiel Lau. His second place at the Vans Pro helped his cause a little bit, but he still needs a huge push in the last few events to secure his spot back on the illustrious Championship Tour. Zeke is a power surfer, and a born and bred Hawaiian, so he is going into the final leg with a lot of confidence and local knowledge and support.
Still, it doesn’t matter how much support he gets from the local Hawaiian surfers, he is still sitting at 28th on the Championship Tour and will need a huge result at Pipe to get above the top 22 cut off. Last year he managed a paltry 25th place at Pipe, and a year before that he dropped a 13th, so he’s not the main man at Pipe. He has a better chance of qualifying through the QS, but he is currently ranked 48th with 7910 points on the board, so he will need to kick in somewhat drastically over the Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup, of which he is the defending champion.
Another interesting case study is young Jack Robinson. His third placing at the Vans Pro helped him to nudge a little bit closer to the qualification zone, a situation that should happen this year. Sitting at 20th on the QS ratings, a qualification result for Robinson is totally within his reach. He is always a standout in Hawaii, especially if it gets sizable, and he thrives at big Sunset (he won the Sunset Open a few years back). With just over 13000 points to his name, one big result and another decent result will see him in contention.
Robinson is a popular surfer, and his virtuoso performance at The Box this year, against an extremely reticent Toledo spoke volumes.
Robinson has had a breakout year this year, and there are many possible reasons why things have clicked thus far, and should continue to do so throughout the Hawaiian leg. One that has been harped on about is the fact that he is traveling without his dad, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that he has matured as a person and as a surfer, and he is carrying himself more as a champion and as a winner. Subtle adjustments, in character and in confidence, can make all the difference in becoming a champ. It is not a done deal yet, but Robinson would be a worthy addition to the CT, especially with waves like G-land and Cloudbreak potentially coming back into the mix. Robinson is one Helluva backhand tube rider, and is already a Pipe specialist, winning the Volcom Pipe Pro this year,
and the Pipe Invitational in 2015.
The fourth finalist from this year’s Volcom Pipe Pro was Barron Mamiya, and the young Hawaiian from Haleiwa is set to qualify for the 2020 Championship Tour. After the Vans Pro, Mamiya was rated 12th on the QS. The next event is at his homebreak of Haleiwa, then taking into account his experience at Sunset, he should see himself launching onto the CT next year without too much difficulty.
Mamiya‘s surfing is radical and fast. He has the full package of new school moves – huge airs – and he goes so far beyond the tedious air reverses stuck on repeat by Italo and others.
As we get into the meat of the Hawaiian season, it must be noted that there is so much more going on than the Men’s World Title race. Gabriel and his drama form a centerpiece of sorts, but these other battles are fascinating.