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Double Time: 6 CT Surfers Hedging Their Bets on the QS

It never hurts to have a backup plan in Hawaii. If you're a Championship Tour surfer, there is no scarier place to fight for requalification. The following six CT surfers wisely decided to double dip in Qualifying Series events this year as a way of providing another avenue to the 2017 Tour. But the pressure is on because their multiple roads to requalification will converge in Hawaii during the Vans Triple Crown.

Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters Hawaii If the following surfers can't perform on the QS, Pipe will decide their destiny. WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Barring a few exceptions, the majority of these guys are sitting well below the Top 22 CT cutoff, so a final QS tear at Sunset and Haleiwa is their most viable route to the 2017 CT. But surfers like Kanoa Igarashi, who already has five decent scores on their ledger, need significant results to move the needle (only the best five results count on the QS). Meanwhile, surfers like Jack Freestone and Jeremy Flores have an empty result box to fill, so every point they earn is a net gain.

Stu Kennedy (AUS) during the Vans World Cup. Despite his solid CT rank, Kennedy will still compete in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown. WSL / Laurent Masurel

Stu Kennedy
CT Rank: 18 Points: 24,700
Needs: 13th at Pipeline to net points; 9th to insure lock.
QS Rank: 21 Points: 9,850
Needs: 5th or better at Haleiwa or Sunset to crack the QS cut of No. 10.

Kennedy's late-season tear on the Championship Tour has provided the Australian some breathing room heading into Hawaii. His huge Quarterfinal finish at Lowers and pair of 9ths in Europe earned him a relatively safe No. 18 spot on the Jeep leaderboard. Although his No. 21 QS rank won't deter him from competing at Haleiwa and Sunset, Stu will be logging plenty of hours at Pipe as he readies himself for battle in the ultimate third jewel. A solid result at Pipe could provide the boost Stu needs to take the "Rookie of the Year" title, as well as a hefty paycheck to support his growing family at home.

Kanoa Igarashi placed third in Heat 3 of Round One at the MOE Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Igarashi continued his steady run of 13ths at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, but early losses are not an option in Hawaii. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Kanoa Igarashi
CT Rank: 24 Points: 18,000
Needs: 9th at Pipe to net any CT points, but a 5th to lock.
QS Rank: 8 Points: 16,400
Needs: 13th or better at Haleiwa or Sunset to net any points.

Advancing to Round Three has been Kanoa Igarashi's greatest strength this season. In fact, the California rookie hasn't suffered a single 25th place finish on the CT. But on the flip side, his inability to do better than 13th place is proving a pretty big chink in his armor. He's got just a single 9th place finish this year, and now he's paying the price. After another Round Three exit in Portugal, Igarashi now sits two spots outside the CT requalifcation window at No. 24. And though he's done a nice job backing himself up on the QS, his No. 8 ranking there is far from secure. With two QS10000 events remaining and more than a half dozen very real threats lurking, Kanoa is far from safe.

Matt Banting (AUS) Placed 1st  in Heat 1 of Round Four at Quiksilver Pro France 16 Banting boosted his CT confidence with a solid Quarterfinal finish in France. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

Matt Banting
CT Rank: 27 Points: 15,450
Needs: 3rd or better at Pipeline to have a CT shot.
QS Rank: 35 Points: 7,950
Needs: to average 5th at both Haleiwa and Sunset to have a shot.

After an endless run of tight early losses, the Australian rookie finally stepped up in France when he earned a 5th in the Quiksilver Pro. While his Quarterfinal finish may provide confidence moving forward, Banting remains in a tender spot for requalification. His No. 27 rank on the CT and No. 35 rank on the QS both require huge performances on the North Shore. With one empty slot on his QS standing, and two remaining QS10000 events, there are plenty of points on offer for the rookie to stage a comeback. But he needs two big results. The Pipe Masters, on the other hand, is the ultimate one-shot deal. If Banting can't capitalize on the QS, a massive Semifinal result at Pipeline will be his only option.

Davey Cathels won Heat 11 of Round One at the Quik Pro France. Cathels has remained positive despite a rough rookie season, but the Australian has his work cut out for him in Hawaii. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Davey Cathels
CT Rank: 28 Points: 15,200
Needs: 3rd or better at Pipeline to have a CT shot.
QS Rank: 28 Points: 8,650
Needs: At least a 5th and a 9th between Haleiwa and Sunset to have a shot.

Although the Australian rookie holds the same No. 28 rank on both the Qualifying Series and the Championship Tour, his best chance for a CT slot in 2017 is to focus on the QS. Cathels also has a void to fill in his QS campaign, so he can only build on his total in the Triple Crown. Both Haleiwa and Sunset have 10,000 points up for grabs, so a last-minute run isn't out of the question. At a minimum, he should aim for a Quarterfinal finish (5,200 points) in both events. Pipe, however, is a different story because Davey would need to crack the Semis for a realistic shot at requalification.

Jack Freestone placing runner-up at the Oi Rio Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil on Thursday May 19, 2016 Jack Freestone knows what it takes to make the Final in a CT event -- He did it in Brazil. And if the QS doesn't work in his favor, another big result at Pipe will be necessary. WSL / Daniel Smorigo

Jack Freestone
CT Rank: 29 Points: 14,500
Needs: 3rd or better at Pipeline to have a CT shot.
QS Rank: 15 Points: 12,100
Needs: A net of at least 7,500 points between Haleiwa and Sunset (5th and 9th).

Between injury and a few tight Round Two losses, Freestone has had a rough Rookie season. Although he posted a huge 2nd place result in the Oi Rio Pro, his No. 29 rank is still seven spots below requalification on the CT. He would need the performance of his life at Pipe to crack the Top 22. But Jack's solid QS seed (No. 15) could be his saving grace. He only needs to jump five spots in the rankings and still has one open slot to fill on the QS, meaning he will keep all the points he earns in his best showing. Therefore, a few decent performances at Haleiwa and Sunset would get the job done. But Jack has work to do.

Jeremy Flores during Round 4 of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Flores' giant-killing performance in Portugal displayed his ability in powerful surf. The former Pipe Master will be pushing for big results on the North Shore. WSL / Damien Poullenot

Jeremy Flores
CT Rank: 33 Points: 13,000
Needs: Win at Pipeline to have a CT shot.
QS Rank: 8 Points: 17,150
Needs: A pair of 17th place finishes at Haleiwa and Sunset would lock him in.

The Frenchman recently played one of the biggest upset roles of the season when he took down World No. 2 Gabriel Medina and World No. 3 Matt Wilkinson on his way to a 9th place finish at the MEO Rip Curl Pro. Unfortunately, his giant-killing spree in Portugal barely made a dent in his No. 33 CT standing. At this point Jeremy would have to win the Pipe Masters (which he's done before) to have a prayer of requalifying via the CT. Luckily, Flores came through on the Qualifying Series in Europe, earning a second-place result in the Billabong Pro Cascais (QS10000). Flores also has a glaring donut in his QS scoreline, and will look to build on his already-solid No. 8 ranking at Sunset and Haleiwa.

Sunset Contest site.Vans World Cup 2015 Between heavy competition and heavier surf, wins don't come easy in Hawaii. WSL / Laurent Masurel

As far as QS rankings are concerned, the standings pre-Triple Crown should be taken with a grain of salt. To give some perspective, there are five QS10000 events during the course of a season. Two of these events take place in Hawaii. Therefore, a pair of solid showings at Haleiwa and Sunset could rocket a relatively low-seeded QS surfer onto the 2017 Championship Tour. But it works both ways, and that's why double-dipping is dangerous. A few wrong moves in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown could leave a lot of these guys scrambling for their CT lives at Pipe.

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