Kanoa Igarashi is no longer on the qualifying bubble. On Sunday the California rookie secured a spot on next year's Championship Tour by earning a huge win at the QS6000 Hang Loose Pro in Brazil. He defeated CT journeyman Jadson Andre in the Final.
With the win Igarashi jumped seven spots up the QS rankings, grabbing control of the No. 1 spot out of the hands of his good friend and Quiksilver teammate, Leonardo Fioravanti. This is the second time that Igarashi has clinched his spot on the CT after a win in Brazil. Last year, the young Californian won in Itacare, Bahia, to guarantee his spot on his maiden journey to the big leagues.
"It feels incredible to win again in Brazil," he said. "It's really similar to last year, when I needed a good result to qualify for the CT. Now I can go to Hawaii without any extra pressure and just have fun there."
The 19-year-old rookie has had a stunningly consistent year on the Championship Tour, marked by two opposing stats. On the one hand, he's one of only four CT surfers without a single Round Two loss their ledger (John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, and Italo Ferreira are the others). On the flip side, however, Kanoa has only made it past Round Three once. After opening the season with a 9th on the Gold Coast, he's finished in 13th place in every event since.
Sitting at No. 24 on the CT rankings (where the cutoff is No. 22) Kanoa is in a tougher spot than most heading into Pipeline. Just to net any points (by replacing his lowest result) he'll need at least a 9th, and even that might not be enough. To make the CT cutoff he'd likely need a 5th at Pipe. Possible? Certainly. But the odds aren't great if you're going strictly by stats.
Meanwhile, over on the Qualifying Series, Igarashi entered the Hang Loose Pro ranked No. 8. While that was within the qualification cut, he was far from safe given the two upcoming QS10000 events in Hawaii, which are certain to wreak havoc on the lower end of the ratings.
QS rankings are determined by a surfer's top five results. This is Igarashi's second victory in a QS6000 this year. He bagged 6,000 more points when he won the Pantin Classic in late August, just two weeks after he earned 6500 points with his 3rd-place finish at the QS10000 Vans US Open of Surfing.
While he's assured himself a spot on next year's Championship Tour, Igarashi is now looking to lock the Qualifying Series championship. Currently, the lowest of his five counting results is worth 1050 points, so all he'll need to do to replace it at Haleiwa or Sunset is get 17th, which is worth 2200. Anything more is gravy.