The showcase event of the 2016 Women's World Tour -- The Maui Women's Pro -- kicked off on the opening day of its event window, and the top seeds dominated. Glassy, fun-sized, but inconsistent 3-to 4-foot Keiki Bowl at Honolua Bay greeted competitors on Day 1. Nothing to write home about, to be sure, but still superior to most of the waves on the planet even on the best day.
Former World Champs Steph Gilmore and Carissa Moore set the bar early with 9-point rides in their opening heats. And with her win in Round One, current WSL World Title-holder Tyler Wright hangs on to her shot at equaling Gilmore's record of winning five contests in one season, back in 2008.
Tour rookie Keely Andrew came out firing as well with an 8.83 that may have been scored higher, had she not surfed in Heat 1 of the day.
The biggest story on the day was Laura Enever who, with her CT requalification hanging in the balance, lost to Coco Ho. Considering the painful state of her heavily-braced injured left knee (via a trip over the falls at 20-foot Jaws, no less), perhaps it's not a shock that she bowed out to a dialed-in Ho, who finished in third place here last year. Despite the uncertain circumstances, Enever was philosophical, saying, "It's out of my control, I just have to stay positive and see what happens."
Enever's loss left the door cracked open ever so slightly for Bianca Buitendag, who needs to win the event to requalify for the 2017 CT tour. Due to her Round One loss, Buitendag was forced to face off against Nikki Van Dijk in Round Two with her back against the wall.
The South African goofyfooter rose to the occasion, taking full advantage of her pointbreak-groomed skills, locking up the highest heat score of the day. "I'm in kind of a different situation at the end of the year," Buitendag told the WSL after her Round Two victory, "and it takes off all the unnecessary pressure. I wasn't really thinking much [about my situation] to be honest." She fights on to surf another day.
Unfortunately, the long-term forecast for Maui is looking challenging, so it could be a stop/start event where the tour bosses pick the eyes out of the best swell windows in the short term. Honolua Bay is a fickle break and could suddenly spring to life with just the slightest jump in swell or twist in swell angle. As Courtney Conlogue said, "Who knows? Coconuts [the outside peak at Honolua] could be crackin' tomorrow."