With the swell rolling in and by far the best waves of the contest, the fans on Huntington Beach were treated to a thrilling day of surfing from the ladies on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour. The action started with eight quarter finalist and worked through exciting semi finals en rout to a finish that would guarantee a new Van’s U.S. Open of Surfing women’s champion.
The quarter finals would start in ultra competitive fashion as familiar long time rivals Sage Erickson and Lakey Peterson matched up for another round in the ongoing rivalry. On this day Lakey would get the best of Sage as her comeback from her ankle injury continues. It would be her toughest test yet as Sage caught a great wave as time ran out. When the scores dropped Sage would just miss catching her rival and moving on to the semi finals.
Round two was a heavyweight battle as world number one Courtney Conlogue faced off with second year upstart Tatiana Weston-Webb. This was an incredible wave for wave battle with neither surfer backing down. Every wave caught felt like it was the turning point in the heat, and every time the other surfer answered. In the end Tatiana Weston-Webb would win by a small margin of only ,23 costing Courtney a chance at a semi final birth AND her number one world ranking.
Speaking of that number one world ranking, Tyler Wright, the current number two ranked surfer in the world surfed in the very next heat and took advantage of that Conlogue slip up by winning her heat against a spirited Keely Andrew. With her strong showing in Huntington Beach, Keely will be moving up in the rankings as well. Meanwhile Tyler has some more work to do to increase her lead in the rankings as wel las working towards a Van’s U.S. Open of Surfing championship.
The last quarterfinal produced another upset in the road to the finals as Malia Manuel did just enough to edge perennial title contender Steph Gilmore. It would set the stage for a fantastic match up in the semi finals and help Malia move up in the rankings.
Tatiana Weston-Webb would draw the returning Lakey Peterson who has been on quite a tear in the Van’s U.S. Open of surfing. That run would end and with it, send Weston-Webb to her second CT final. Lakey felt the pressure early and could not catch up with Tatiana who scored early and often. It was a great heat for Tatiana who surfed a very strategic heat and will now move on with a chance at her first title on the championship tour.
In the last heat before the finals Tyler Wright would get started quickly against Malia Manuel who has been on a hot streak as well Tyler would have a 10.83 after four quick waves before Malia would even catch a wave. That would make little difference. Malia took a while to get it started, but would finish strong to eliminate the new world number one and move on to the finals of the Van’s U.S. Open of Surfing.
The Stage is set for an all Hawaiian battle between Tatiana Weston-Webb and Malia Manuel. Both surfers are top ten ranked and will be moving up with their results here in Huntington Beach. Malia started off hot with an early lead as both surfers traded waves and priority. Tatiana kept busy taking 10 total waves to put the pressure on Malia Manuel. With under a minute Malia needed a big score to take her first ever CT final and got a solid wave with time winding down. As she finshed both surfers stayed in the water waiting for the scores to drop. Malia would score a respectable 6.17 on her her final wave, however, that would not be enough as Tatiana would start her celebration about 25 yards away from the beach. This is her very first CT victory and one that will be celebrated for some time.
The second half of the season will be a wide open affair. Surfers like Tatiana Weston-Webb, Malia Manuel, Lakey Perterson, Keely Andrew, and Sage Erickson have came out and put the rest of the ladies on notice.
The trend of anything can happen in Huntington continued as top seeded surfers fell all week long and new contenders emerged. This would be memorable for our finalist to the wild cards. For now Tatiana Weston-Webb will celebrate a well deserved victory that was along time in the making.