If you believe that history repeats itself, Carissa Moore was due her fourth World Title in 2017. In her seven years on the Championship Tour (CT) the Hawaiian's year-end rank has, starting in 2010, alternated every year between World No. 3 and No. 1. Last year, in 2016, she finished at No. 3. If that pattern were to continue, a World Title would be looming this year.
However, after six of the CT events so far in 2017, it's clear that the series will be disrupted. Moore currently sits at No. 9, closer to relegation than a World Title, having failed to make it past the Quarterfinals in any event this year. It's unchartered territory for Moore who, except for 2012, has never had a year without a contest win.
"I wish I had an answer for the way this year has gone," Moore said after another poor performance at the Vans US Open of Surfing. "I think it's a combination of things. Having been on Tour for eight years, I'm trying to mix things up and motivate myself in different ways. I'm also dealing with the mental blocks that come with not doing so well. There's a lot going on and a lot to pick apart, but I'm having fun and I'm stoked to be here."
Moore's unfailing professionalism, optimism and positivity has been an unstinting feature in all her years on the CT. When she burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old rookie she brought a new focus, athleticism and motivation to the Tour. She was, and continues to be, one of the hardest trainers in the sport and has always approached each heat with a steely will to win that comes double-crossed with an ever-present smile.
That smile hasn't disappeared, but 2017 has easily been the most difficult competitive year of her career. For the first time she is struggling for motivation, one of the key pillars of her success.
"The biggest epiphany I've had recently is that sometimes motivation doesn't come naturally and you have to make it for yourself," she wrote in her blog recently. "Instead of waiting for something to happen, start moving. For me, that's waking up early. Writing down goals. Eating clean. Meditating. Doing all the little things that empower me and give me confidence."
You sense that Moore is both ready and willing to deal with this first-ever career blip. There's every chance that she could come out even stronger on the other side. She's never been one to shirk from any challenge and this might just be her biggest test yet.
It helps that she has logged victories in each of the four stops remaining: Trestles, Hossegor, Cascais and Honolua. They are all powerful waves that suit her dynamic approach. It also helps that she is one of the greatest surfers of all time. She might need to manufacture motivation for the first time, but when she does, we can expect Moore to be back where she belongs; at the very apex of the sport.