The Qualifying Series is a brutal year-long test of grit, talent and toughness. While the pursuit takes surfers all over the world the most difficult part is their inward journey, where doubts and fears wreak havoc with desires. For the vast majority of competitors, the QS season lays waste to boards and bodies, hopes and dreams.
But for a small handful of surfers, those dreams of making the Championship Tour become a reality, and at the Hawaiian Pro, the second-to-last QS event of the season, the dream is getting every bit closer.
Every round of the Hawaiian Pro is crucial in this battle, and Round Three Tuesday had serious consequences. Here's a look at Tuesday's big winners, and a few fresh victims.
Flores, a Championship Tour veteran, entered the Hawaiian Pro ranked No. 8 on the QS thanks in large part to his runner-up finish at the QS10,000 in Portugal. But now, because this is just the fifth QS event he's competing in this year, he gets to keep every single point he's earning. He's already passed Bino Lopes and Ian Gouveia as a result.
The Championship Tour rookie has had a rough year, but is making a late charge up the QS to salvage his CT ranking for 2017. He entered the Hawaiian Pro ranked No. 15 on the QS. One more heat advance will get him knocking on the door. Two more heats and he'll be inside the cut. But either way, he'll have to back it up at Sunset.
Jadson showed some serious grit Tuesday by winning his heat after being bedridden for two days leading into the event. The CT veteran is in dire need of a result. He's ranked No. 22 on the QS coming in. Fortunately for Jaddy, he's got an empty box to fill, so every point he earns he keeps. But he needs upwards of 6,000 to get inside the cut. Which means he needs to get to the quarterfinals.
The Australian CT rookie is still on life support when it comes to keeping his 2017 hopes alive. He's No. 26 on the QS, but unlike Jadson (and Jeremy) he's already surfed in five QS events this season. He has to replace the 600 points he earned at the Billabong Pro in Cascais with a much bigger number. He'll get another shot at Sunset to do the same, because his second-lowest result is a 650. Bottom line? Davey needs to go on a Triple Crown tear.
The Brazilian started the Hawaiian Pro ranked No. 6 on the QS, but had the misfortune of drawing a fired-up Kelly Slater in his Round Three heat. He finished last behind Slater, Samuel Pupo, and Deivid Silva.
Bino had a shocker during his Round Three heat at Haleiwa, managing a heat total of just 8.47 points, which put him in last. He and 2015 World Champion Adriano de Souza were upset by Mitch Crews and Gony Zubizarreta of Spain. Lopes is only looking to better a 650 point result to net some points, but he'll have to wait until Sunset.
The Championship Tour rookie is hoping to stay on in 2017, and his No. 9 ranking on the QS is enough to make that happen -- for now. Callinan lost his heat in Round Three at Haleiwa, which is a big missed opportunity to keep him out of danger as other surfers surge ahead. He needs to stay in the Top 10, so Sunset will be make-or-break.
After his huge win in Portugal last month, Jesse Mendes climbed into the No. 10 spot on the QS, the last safe spot to qualify for the Championship Tour. The work, however, is far from over. He's the first one that guys like Tomas Hermes will pass if they can continue to perform. Mendes can't afford another slip-up at Sunset.
Silva entered Haleiwa ranked No. 11 on the QS, but in order to gain any ground on those in front of him he needed at least a 17th-place finish at the Hawaiian Pro. That didn't happen, and the situation remains the same at Sunset. The problem is that by the time the contest at Sunset rolls around, he'll probably need a 9th there to make a dent.
The Hawaiian has been on the edge before, so being ranked No. 13 on the QS heading into the Triple Crown is nothing new. But after his Round Three loss at Haleiwa to Frenchman Diego Mignot and Aussie veteran Nathan Hedge, all of Lau's CT hopes are resting on the Vans World Cup at Sunset. Fortunately for Zeke, he's a proven performer there, so there's nowhere he'd rather put it all on the line.