The Los Cabos Open of Surf, June 13 through 17, is a big turning point in the women's road to qualification, and begins to paint a picture of who to watch down the final stretch. The fifth annual women's Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000-level event brings in an array of world-class surfers, some fighting for points to back themselves up on the Championship Tour (CT) and other contenders looking for their breakthrough to get there.
With 6,000 points on the line -- the max for a women's QS event -- this event's history has proven that the winner either qualifies for the CT by the end of the year, or keeps her spot on Tour with the result. In either case, Los Cabos makes a significant impact. Here are a few who will be looking for those valuable points next week:
CT Women Looking for Job Security (Requalification):
Current QS Rank: 55
Current CT Rank: 14
The Ojai, California, native made her mark on the CT last year with her first-ever win at the Vans US Open of Surfing, but hasn't found her form in 2018 just yet. Bursting with potential and a perennial CT requalifier, Erickson is rarely one to worry about by season's end. But at this point in her season, she is in need of a momentum shift, and Los Cabos may be just what the doctor ordered. Plus, her chances to do well here are good: She's made finals day multiple years. The six-year CT veteran has put more focus on the elite events this year, and she may need to begin pulling double duty if things don't begin turning around, quickly.
Current QS Rank: 2
Current CT Rank: 13
Ten years on the CT can prove wearing while doing double-duty on the QS each season to requalify. But none do it better perhaps than Coco Ho. Her experience alone, however, speaks for itself and she always finds a way to stay among the elite, Top 17. Right now, for example, she's sitting at No. 2 on the QS rankings, which puts her in solid position to requalify. However, after another Round 3 exit last week in Bali, this year continues to prove tricky for Ho. She's won in Cabo before, and will be looking for continued there, to have her re-qualification Plan B dialed in.
Current QS Rank: 4
Current CT Rank: 12
Elite surfers do not take Injuries lightly, and case in point? Malia Manuel. Manuel took her time with a devastating knee injury that she suffered at Margaret River last season and came back brilliantly to finish the year out with a few notable performances (including a runner-up at the Maui Women's Pro). It has been a tough comeback, however. So far in 2018, Manuel hasn't mustering a strong result beyond her Semifinal appearance at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast to start the season. A result at Zippers, though, could be the extra spark she needs to capitalize on her recent Quarterfinal finish in Bali.
Other CT competitors looking for some valuable backup points in attendance at San Jose Del Cabo include No. 16 Paige Hareb, No. 15 Bronte Macaulay, and, though just within the Jeep Rankings Leaderboard Top 10, Keely Andrew, Nikki Van Dijk and 2017 Los Cabos victor Silvana Lima.
Threats to Watch:
Current QS Rank: 3
Best Los Cabos Finish: Semifinal
The Australian returns to Zippers two ranking spots ahead of where she was last season with two Semifinal finishes already -- one at the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro QS 6,000 and the Martinique Surf Pro QS 3,000. But, this event has proved tricky for Anderson in the past two seasons with equal ninth-place finishes. Anderson's forehand is never one to count out as she remains one of the QS's strongest amid some of the world's best, but lacks the final push toward season's end to qualify. A win here could certainly change that fate.
Current QS Rank: 8
Best Los Cabos Finish: Quarterfinal
Anderson's fellow Aussie earned a long-awaited QS victory earlier this season and, alongside a few key Quarterfinal finishes at higher-rated events, sits at No. 8 with a chance to gain ground in Mexico. Wawn has found herself on the wrong side of last-minute defeats and falls victim to the ocean's silence when in need of a wave, but this year, she seems to be in an upswing. The 20-year-old further improves her competitive skill with every event, which only bodes well for here in Mexico.
Current QS Rank: 10
Best Los Cabos Finish: Equal 25th
This year marks the Portuguese competitor's first full year on the QS after a successful Pro Junior career ended in 2017. In her Junior career, she earned three trips to the World Junior Championships. The last three years catapulted Bonvalot onto the pro surfing platform with multiple CT wildcards and competing around the world with longtime boyfriend, current CT competitor, Kanoa Igarashi. But, the 18-year-old lacks a QS win on her resume, and she needs to let her technical backhand loose for a chance at one at Zippers.
Joining these three as event threats to some of the world's best, 2016/17 World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan, 2018 Barbados Surf Pro QS 3,000 winner Leilani McGonagle, last year's Pro Junior winner Summer Macedo, and a plethora of Pro Junior talents will vie for this year's win.
The Los Cabos Open of Surf QS 6,000 will run June 13-17 at Zippers, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.