Malia Manuel burst onto the pro surfing scene as a 14-year-old prodigy in 2008, when she became the youngest surfer to ever win the US Open of Surfing. At the time, she was the latest in a long line of talented surfers emerging from Kauai, which had become the epicenter of progression thanks to locals like the Andy and Bruce Irons, Dustin Barca, and Sebastian Zietz. In 2011, she joined the Qualifying Series and won two more events on her way to becoming a fulltime member of the Championship Tour in 2012. Her surfing is upbeat and stylish, and matches her personality in both its elegance and authority, and when she won the rookie of the year honor in 2012, finishing No. 6 on the season, many thought a future World Title was all but inevitable. But after her six years on tour, she's collected a handful of Qualifying Series wins, yet is still searching for her first Championship Tour victory, and the highest rank she’s ever reached is No. 5 in 2014. To that end, many believe Manuel is the most underrated surfer on the women’s side, and is long overdue for a serious breakout. After being injured at Margaret River at the start of last season she missed four events, and endured her longest stretch ever out of the water. The absence may have lit a fire, because Manuel came back and ended her year strong with a runner-up finish at Honolua Bay on Maui. Getting so close to her first CT win and ending her trying season on a high note will undoubtedly make her hungry for more in 2018.