After 11 months of dripping sweat, occasional tears and even a little blood, the men's and women's 2017 Championship Tour seasons are marching toward their dramatic peaks, culminating next month with the crowning of two World Champs. The women will battle it out at the Maui Women's Pro from Nov. 25 - Dec. 6, with an intense three-way race for the Title, plus two outliers in the mix. The men, who have four potential kings of 2017, will crown their Champ at the end of the Billabong Pipe Masters, which runs from Dec. 8 - 20.
When each new winner clutches the coveted silver cup, however, they'll not only be holding a symbol of their own long journey to the top, but also a symbol of all the journeys that came before: That of Tom Curren and Tom Carroll, of Lisa Andersen and Layne Beachley. And ultimately, the journey of professional surfing itself, from infancy as a fringe sport to today, four decades later.
In honor of that ultimate prize -- a symbol of determination, big dreams and playing the long game -- here are a few things that have gone into the making of the trophy, both in the water and on the sand.
1. The metal is mixed with sand from the beaches where each of the 40 past winners grew up.
As Commissioner Kieren Perrow explains, "Anyone from any beach in the world can come along and become a WSL Champion." Maybe even 11 times.
2. The base of the trophy is made from koa wood, which is native to Hawaii.
Even those who have clutched the trophy more than once can't always believe that it's theirs. As 4x Australian winner Mark Richard says, "To get it, and to achieve it, you're really still scratching yourself [on the head] wondering if you really did it. I still scratch myself now and go, 'Did that really happen?'"
3. The names of every past champion is etched into the bowl of the trophy.
Everyone from Shaun Tomson to Layne Beachley is honored. So don't even think about tarnishing those esteemed names with, say, winning-night champagne. As Beachley says, "When I first laid my hands on that World Title trophy, I never, ever wanted to let it go."
Tune in when the race charges toward its respective conclusions first in Maui (Nov. 25 - Dec. 6) and then on Oahu's North Shore (Dec. 8 - Dec. 20).