It's hard to believe 2017 is already coming to an end, but we're in for a fireworks finish as the women prepare for pumping Honolua Bay for the Maui Women's Pro. This year we've had eight different winners through nine total events and that helps explain why it's one of the tightest World Title races in women's surfing history.
Five women (Sally Fitzgibbons, Tyler Wright, Courtney Conlogue, Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore) have a chance at taking home the World Title trophy. The top three control their own destinies, meaning that is any of them win in Maui, they will also become World Champion.
Carissa and Steph need some help by having the top seeds falter, while also going on to win the event, in order to score another World Title. It would come as no surprise if that happens, because they've won five out of the last six times this event has run.
Apart from the World Title scenarios, which you can find here, there's plenty at stake for the rest of the field. Year-end sponsor bonuses are on the line, requalification dreams, and straight-up stoke to take on a world-class wave with only one or two other surfers in the lineup.
Of the three women in Tier A, only one has a Maui Women's Pro victory to her name. Tyler Wright won it in 2016 and is looking to defend. Aside from that, she's placed 5th in 2015 and 2nd in 2014 with a 13.88 Average Heat Score. That may be 4th of women active on tour, but this year Tyler owns the highest AHS of all the women on tour and is back to health after her knee tweak in Europe.
Sally, Sally, Sally. Could this finally be her year? A 3x World Title runner-up may lead you to believe she chokes under pressure but that isn't actually the case. In fact, Sally owns the highest AHS in Maui Women's Pro history at a smoking 15.45. Her only result outside of the Quarterfinals here was a 13th last year, losing to Lakey Peterson, who dropped a 9.17 late in the battle.
Lastly in the top bracket is Courtney Conlogue, the only woman to win multiple events this year, but unfortunately she has also placed 9th three times already. Courtney has been decent at Honolua with a couple Semifinal finishes to her name, but likely needs to earn her best-ever finish if she expects to take home the hardware she desires. Her AHS of 12.92 is nearly two points less than Sally's, but Conlogue owns nine Excellent Heats in 2017, to Sally's five. The forecast is showing solid north swell, which will only help Courtney's chances.
Into Tier B, the easy choice would be adding the two most dominant surfers in event history, in Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore. They lead the way with 10 and seven Excellent Heats, respectively, and 14+ Average Heat Scores. Steph has won three of five times surfing Honolua and Carissa has won two of her five events, but you may want to keep in mind that Steph hasn't won here since 2009 (the event did not run from 2010-2013), while Carissa made three consecutive Final appearances.
If you're looking to take a bit more risk and pick someone less heralded, Tier B has plenty of options, but not many are proven at this location. Silvana Lima (2008, 2009) and Keely Andrew (2016) are the only women here to make it past the Quarterfinals at Honolua. Of the two, Silvana has the higher AHS at 13.4 to Keely's 12.48, though Silvana has only surfed in this event once over the past seven years.
Overall, this event hasn't been great to goofyfooters not named Chelsea Hedges -- who won three events back in the day -- but maybe Tatiana Weston-Webb can break that mold? She's placed 5th in both of her attempts at this venue and definitely turns to a new gear when the swell picks up in size. The short hop over from home island of Kauai assures her of avoiding the dreaded jetlag as well.
Can anyone in Tier C make a stand and impact the World Title situation? It's happened before when Coco Ho clinched fellow Hawaiian Carissa Moore's third championship, by taking down Courtney Conlogue in 2015. That was also the last time we saw solid surf for this event and Coco ripped her way to an admirable 3rd place finish. Coco is the most accomplished of this tier holding a top 10 AHS of 12.75, with a 44 percent Heat Winning Percentage.
One of the women unaccustomed to this tier late in the season is Malia Manuel. After missing four straight events with a torn MCL suffered at Margaret River, Malia is guaranteed the injury wildcard for 2018 and can surf this contest freely, using it to build momentum back up for a run next year. She cracked the Quarterfinals here for her first time in 2016 and will look to do at least one better.
Laura Enever is officially off the dream tour for 2018, but be aware, she has no fear when it comes to launching herself over the ledge big drops, or pulling into gaping barrels. It could be her CT swam song so expect her to come out swinging. Especially with this forecast on tap.
The Maui Women's Pro waiting period begins this Saturday, and has up till December 6th to finish. It will cherry-pick two of the best days over that 12-day waiting period so stay tuned to worldsurfleague.com for updates on calls and make sure to select your favorites on WSL's Fantasy Surfing.