Stuart Kennedy's 5th place finish at Lower Trestles lifted him to No. 19 on the Championship Tour rankings, just two spots behind fellow rookie Caio Ibelli, which means he's very much in the hunt for the 2016 Rookie of the Year honor.
Kennedy is a surprise addition to the rookie race, which is now comprised of seven surfers; the season started with six. Technically, Kennedy was an injury replacement surfer, filling in for Owen Wright for the first few events. Then in July, when Wright announced he'd officially be sitting out the remainder of 2016, Kennedy locked a spot on the Championship Tour.
Adding excitement to Kennedy's mid-season stretch is the pending arrival of a brand new baby girl; he and his wife Ashlee are expecting to double their diaper load any day now (they already have an adorable son). Kennedy raced home after his Quarterfinal loss at Trestles to be there.
Though Kennedy is certainly no shoo-in to requalify for the 2017 season, his 5th at Trestles gives him enough breathing room to skip the next QS event in Europe to enjoy the milestone moment. But to stay on next year's Championship Tour Kennedy will have to remain in the Top 22 on the CT, or crack the Top 10 on the QS (where he's currently No. 23). With three CT events left to go, he knows anything can happen.
A Rookie of the Year honor would be a huge surprise, however, given he wasn't even in the mix at the beginning of the year.
CURRENT 2016 ROOKIE STANDINGS (POST HURLEY PRO)
Best Result: 5th at Margaret River
Notable: 9th place finishes at Snapper, Bells, and Brazil
Average Heat Score (AHS): 11.88
Best Result: 3rd at Snapper
Notable: 5th at Lowers
Best Result: 9th at Snapper
Notable Seven 13th-place finishes
Best Result: 5th at Bells
Notable: 9th at Snapper
Best Result: 5th in Rio
Notable: 9th at Bells
Best Result 2nd in Rio
Notable: Missed Bells and Margarets due to injury
Best Result: 5th at Trestles.
Notable: Six 25th-place finishes.
Best Result: 13th place at Snapper and Rio
Notable: Knocked out Jordy Smith at Snapper