Editor's Note: Stephanie Gilmore has since withdrawn from the Target Maui Pro due to injury. As a result, the women's elite Tour roster for 2016 is final including all surfers through No. 9 on the Qualifying Series. Gilmore will apply for the 2016 WSL Wildcard.
The women's 2015 Qualifying Series season came to a close last week at the Maui and Sons Pichilemu Woman's Pro with a victory by CT surfer Alessa Quizon (HAW). The final event marks the end of a long journey for Championship Tour qualification: The top 10 surfers on the Championship Tour requalify and the top six QS surfers (who are not in the Top 10 on the CT) are awarded full-time spots on the following season's Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour.
Now that the contest in Chile has run, QS point totals have been solidified and two rookies have been guaranteed a spot on the 2016 roster. The women's requalification scenarios heading into the final CT event of the season, the Target Maui Pro at Honolua Bay, have the surfer at No. 9 on the QS rankings in the running to make the cut for the CT. Check out who's in, who's out, who's close -- and why -- below.
Current 2015 Qualifying Series Rankings:
No. 1 Sage Erickson (USA)
Despite solid performances in the last three events on the women's CT -- including a Semifinal finish at the Roxy Pro France -- Erickson's CT season has been riddled by a string of thirteenth-place finishes. At No. 16 on the CT Jeep Leaderboard (second to last place) heading into Hawaii, Erickson will use her No. 1 finish on the QS to maintain a spot on the women's Tour in 2016.
No. 1 Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
2015 rookie Weston-Webb has backed up the elite level of surfing that earned her a place on Tour with extremely strong performances throughout the season, including a Final appearance at the event in France. At No. 8 on the CT before Maui, she will requalify without her QS ranking, freeing up a spot for someone else.
No. 3 Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Van Dijk is where things get interesting. A couple of stellar results during the 2015 season have landed her at No. 10 on the Championship Tour heading into Maui. At No. 3 on the QS, Van Dijk is guaranteed to make the Tour in 2016. However, if she falls outside the Top 10 on the CT by the end of Maui, she'll have to rely on her QS ranking for requalification, potentially edging someone else out of the 2016 equation (find out who below).
No. 4 Chelsea Tuach (BRB) - 2016 Rookie
2016 rookie Chelsea Tuach will be the first surfer from Barbados to qualify for the Championship Tour. With a win at the QS 6,000 in Spain in September, plus a 3rd and 5th place finish at QS 6,000s in China and Oceanside respectively earlier this year, Tuach positioned herself to make the jump to the CT next season. She got a taste of CT-level competition at the 2015 Vans US Open and Roxy Pro France, but will test her talent over the 2016 season as a full-time member of the elite Tour.
No. 5 Keely Andrew (AUS) - 2016 Rookie
Like Tuach, Keely Andrew will join the elite ranks as the only other Tour rookie in 2016. Andrew earned a victory and runner-up finish at QS 6,000s in New Zealand and El Salvador respectively. However, Andrew's biggest success this season was arguably her appearance at the Oi Rio Women's Pro, where a Quarterfinal finish proved her ability to challenge the world's best.
No. 6 Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Quizon has improved her overall standing on the CT, finishing in Round 4 or better in the last four events. She has shown off her talent with increasing consistency, underscoring her improvements with a win at the QS 1,500 in Chile earlier this month. However, at No. 13 on the elite Tour, the Hawaiian goofyfooter will be using her rank on the QS to compete on the CT in 2016.
No. 6 Malia Manuel (HAW)
With the guaranteed requalification of fellow Hawaiian Weston-Webb, Manuel has solidified a spot on the CT in 2016. However, at No. 9 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Manuel stands to double qualify. If she holds on to her CT position she will free up a spot on the Championship Tour for a surfer below her on the QS rankings.
No. 8 Coco Ho (HAW)
At No. 11 on the CT, Coco Ho would need a fifth-place finish in order to overtake Van Dijk (No. 10 on the CT) and a third-place finish to overtake Manuel. However, as long as either Manuel or Van Dijk stay inside the Top 10, Ho will requalify with her QS ranking without the pressure of needing a serious result in Maui.
No. 9 Laura Enever (AUS)
Aside from the two women's World Title contenders, Laura Enever has the most riding on other surfers' results at the Target Maui Pro. At No. 17 on the Championship Tour rankings, she has no chance to requalify via the CT, no matter how she does in Maui. If the season were to end right now, however, Enever would requalify as Weston-Webb, Van Dijk and Manuel's double-qualification currently puts her at No. 6 in the QS picture.
There's one surfer who stands between Enever and requalification: Six-time World Champion and perennial Top 10 finisher Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). Adding another wrinkle is that Gilmore and Enever are friends and frequently travel together.
Dark Horse Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
If Gilmore places fifth or better (Quarterfinal finish or higher) in Maui, she will break into the Top 10 on the CT rankings and secure her own spot on Tour for 2016. The ripple effect will eliminate Enever's chances at requalification.
Gilmore, who's also the current reigning World Champion, has been sidelined for the majority of the season with a leg injury. Though it isn't guaranteed, regardless of Gilmore's result in Maui, she has a strong application for the 2016 WSL wildcard.
When Gilmore paddles out at Honolua, will she play friend to her fellow Australian -- or foe to World Title contenders?