"I went into Hawaii last year rated 30-something on the QS and not really thinking about qualification," said Frederico Morais. "But I also knew that one big result could change anything and that I'd done well there before. That's the beauty of Hawaii; the waves are amazing and things can happen fast."
Morais bagged that big result with a second at Haleiwa, then with the confidence gained made the Final at the Vans World Cup of Surfing to qualify for the CT in third place. Exactly 12 months since he was sitting well clear of his dreams he travels to Oahu as the World No. 13 fighting for the Rookie of The Year Award.
For all the surfers with dreams of qualifying there's more than just Morais' Hawaiian history to give them belief, no matter what their current ranking is. In 2014 Dusty Payne was sitting outside the top 50 on the QS and had written off his own chances of making the cut going into the two final QS 10,000 events. Yet a shock win at Haleiwa gave him hope, before a second at Sunset cemented his CT comeback. They were the only two results he'd had all year, but it was enough.
Two years before that the original outlier Sebastian Zietz had also came from nowhere to win Haleiwa and make the Final at Sunset to jump more than 30 other surfers and claim his place on the CT. He then iced the cake by winning the Triple Crown at Pipe. All those achievements took place within two weeks. As Morais said, in Hawaii things can happen fast. Seabass has been on the CT ever since.
Now trying to pick a current outlier on the QS that might be capable of replicating those three performances is difficult. For one, the weight of the CT surfers coming into the draw throws the current QS formbook out the window. And two, there are so many talented surfers with solid Hawaiian pedigree occupying the rankings outside the qualifying zone.
Former CT surfer Alejo Muniz for example is currently at 16 on the QS and while his best result in 2017 has been a 9th in Cascais, he has almost a decade of competitive experience in Hawaii. He also has the power and technique to be dangerous at both venues. Injuries have plagued his career, but now back to full fitness he's a solid bet to get back to CT seven years after he made his debut in 2011.
Mikey Wright is also a more obvious candidate. Despite being only 21, his freesurfing at Hawaii over the years has always been impressive and the weighty walls of Haleiwa and Sunset should suit his muscular surfing style. Currently sitting at 21 on the QS, he'll need two solid results thought to make a late charge to join his siblings Owen and Tyler on the CT.
Further down Carlos Muñoz is another perennial Hawaiian performer who courtesy of a Semifinal at the Vans US Open of Surfing remains just within touching distance. That one big result at Huntington sees him at 25th and so he'll need at least a Quarterfinal or better at the Hawaiian Pro to have a shot at Sunset.
Other potential outliers include the goofyfoot trio of Jadson Andre, Ramzi Boukhiam and Ryan Callinan. All three are comfortable in the Oahu juice and have incredible backside hooks that can score big points. Now all these surfers mentioned would obviously prefer to have logged the points and be further up the QS rankings going into the Hawaii season. Yet as history shows if there is a place to eat up ground its at Haleiwa and Sunset. It's been done before. We are about to find out if it will happen again.