It's only fitting that it all came down to Semifinal One of the Vans World Cup of Surfing, the final stop of the 2016 Qualifying Series, to determine the last man to qualify for next year's Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. That man is Jack Freestone. Freestone, who did not requalify as part of the CT in 2016, finished around 50 points ahead of Hawaiian hopeful Ezekiel Lau by virtue of placing third over Lau in their Semi.
That's out of a total of nearly 19,000 points accumulated by both surfers over the course of the entire season. "Every heat is important at this event, everyone is still in it, it's so close, I just tried to get through heats," Freestone told the WSL on finals day. In the end, it was a head-to-head, tenacious match up, coming down to whomever finished higher in their Semifinal, with Freestone besting Lau by a little more than one point.
For Lau it must be a bitterly disappointing blow to get so close, only to be clipped at the buzzer. But, there's plenty of reason to stay positive: He's proven to the world he's got the talent, technique and tenacity to hang with the best of the best. With a high seed set for the 2017 QS, it's a good bet that Lau will surf his way onto the CT in 2018.
Freestone's return to the CT seems fitting redemption for a talented, dynamic surfer with plenty of upward mobility. The Australian has the pedigree, and if he can transfer his progressive approach into his contest act, only good things are ahead for the lanky Gold Coaster.