The 2017 Women's Championship Tour (CT) has hit the midway point and after an extended break between events, and Australia's Tyler Wright is back on top for the second year running heading into the Vans US Open of Surfing. Wright's recent string of results indicates she's ready to run away from the field, but her rivals seem much more determined to stop her this year. Here are the five most likely to halt her progress in Huntington Beach.
After a disappointing 2016 season, Sally Fitzgibbons kicked off her 2017 campaign with vigor and a steadfast commitment to raising her game. Her rebound has been reflected in her performances and launched her into the No. 2 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard. Sally's an entertainer and loves the spotlight; she seems to thrive under the pressure of a packed beach full of spectators scrutinizing her every move. She's also become a fan favorite in Huntington, where her infectious grin and flair for the dramatic has won over a typically partisan, stars-and-stripes-leaning crowd. Sally is one-for-two in her Finals appearances here, and made it to the Semis or further four times. Her average heat score (AHS) in Huntington Beach is a full point higher than tour leader Wright's, so she's hoping to capitalize in order to get back in that Jeep Leader jersey.
Lakey Peterson, who's No. 7 on the rankings, will be looking to build some momentum at home in California, where statistically she's one of the most dominant surfers around. Her average heat score (AHS) of 14.03 at Huntington is the tops on Tour, and she's second only to Fitzgibbons in heat win percentage (HWP) of 65 percent. Peterson's ability to generate speed when the wave's not providing it is her biggest weapon in Huntington, where she's been competing since her early teens. She won the event in 2012, has appeared in the Finals twice, the Semis three times, and the Quarters five out of the six years she's surfed in the event.
Even though Carissa Moore is smack-dab in the middle of her worst competitive year since joining the Tour, her history in Huntington Beach can't be ignored. She's won this event twice (2010 and 2013) and her versatility always serves her well in beachbreak conditions. Big or small, closed-out or lined up, morning glass or afternoon wind-chop, she can deliver. Moore has the third-best average heat score (AHS) and heat win percentage (HWP) here, with more heats surfed here than any surfer on Tour. Sitting No. 8 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Moore is already in reset mode at this point, with zero pressure to do anything other than enjoy the ride she so deserves after winning three World Titles and heading toward marriage. As she embraces the fun, she'll be playing the role of serious spoiler in this year's World Title race, fine-tuning for 2017.
Still buzzing from her gritty win at Cloudbreak in wild conditions, Courtney Conlogue's up one spot in the rankings to No. 4 on the back of her second event win of the season. Now at the season's midway point, she's back within striking distance of the Title chase leaders, but is still carrying two uncharacteristically low, 9th-place results from the Roxy Pro and Oi Rio Pro. To be in the hunt at the season's end, both those results will need to be throwaways. On the upside for Courtney, the H.B. Pier is her local haunt. While she won the Open in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2013, her best showing over the past three years was a 3rd in 2015 . A poor finish here could end her Title hopes in 2017.
Tatiana Weston-Webb's US Open of Surfing victory in 2016 was the breakout moment of her young career, signaling her arrival on Tour with a triumphant bang. Up two spots to No. 10 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Tatiana will be carrying serious momentum following her runner-up finish at the Fiji Pro, with the Finals appearance providing a welcome boost of confidence after a sluggish start to the season. With a solid air game, serious focus and a high-revving motor, Tatiana's competitive approach is built for the arena-like setting at the H.B. Pier. And, like Conlogue, the U.S Open comes at just the right time for the Hawaiian if she hopes to improve on her No. 4 overall finish in 2016.
Watch the Vans US Open of Surfing live daily on the WSL website and app daily from Monday, July 31 to August 6.