The surfing World Title may still be up for grabs, but the Hawaiian Pro provided us with a few names we could be hearing more of next year.
The first stop of the Vans Triple Crown was an ideal lead-up to the Maui Pro and Pipeline Masters, with big CT names and lesser-knowns being on equal footing.
One of Hawaii’s younger talents, Ezekiel Lau showed a lot of promise, as he has lately. Dusty Payne was only one heat away from winning back-to-back Hawaiian Pro titles.
However, Aussie Wade Carmichael took the top honour, earning a very valuable 10,000 QS points, catapulting him 41 places and finishing 12th this season. That’s huge, considering most of us hadn't heard of him ‘til he finished 3rd at Lowers a few months ago.
The final heat began strong, but there was a lull for 10 minutes with no waves big enough to ride. Carmichael was too good for Lau, Payne and even Filipe Toledo – who could have the World Title soon. Toledo was a favourite to dominate the Triple Crown with his trademark air game, and it looked like he would with his big air and full rotation (9.50). This time, it wasn't enough.
Payne and Lau were Hawaii’s only two competitors, as CT standouts John John Florence and Keanu Asing couldn't stay past the fourth round.
Things are moving fast with the second stop, the World Cup of Surfing happening as soon as Tuesday. No time to rest.