With the start of the Championship Tour set to kick off in Hawaii in December, we're taking a look at eight of the toughest competitors on Tour. To be the best you gotta beat the best, and these are the dreaded heat draws.
Honolua Bay was made for Carissa Moore. The reigning World Champion has a natural affinity for the majestic Maui right-hander that few, if any on Tour, enjoy.
Like most relationships, this one has taken nurturing. Foundationally, Honolua Bay is an ideal fit for Moore's impeccable blend of power, aplomb and grace. Cavernous barrel sections, speed runs, long walls and smashable inside sections allow her to really open up and show the world how good she truly is. Much like 11-time World Champ Kelly Slater, Moore does her best surfing when the surf is at its best, and Honolua is as damn well close to a perfect wave as you're going to find in Hawaii.
Over the years, her relationship with the spot has been fostered by the support crew of her father and Maui based-coach Micah Nickens. Time providing, together they're able to be on most good swells at the Bay, affording Moore a more intimate understanding of the break than any other woman on Tour at the moment.
And all the time, dedication and inter-island flights has paid off. Since 2007, only three women have won at Honolua Bay. All three are World Champions. Stephanie Gilmore owns five of those victories, Moore has three, and Tyler Wright rounds things out with one.
Moore is the only surfer from Hawaii to have won the event, and when the horn blows, she's practically unbeatable. She wins 75-percent of the heats she surfs, second only to Gilmore, who wins a mind-blowing 83-percent of her heats. But Moore's got Gilmore in the highest average heat score department at Honolua, averaging 14.93. versus Gilmore's 14.36.
And Moore's one of only two surfers on Tour today to have garnered a perfect 10-point score from the judges (Courtney Conlogue being the other one). In 2015, she posted a 19.50 heat total in the Final (one of ten 19-point plus heat's she's had throughout her career).
Moore first pulled on a CT jersey at Honolua in 2009. Coming off of her first Tour win at Sunset Beach earlier in the season, the future World Champ finished a forgettable ninth.
The event at Maui didn't run again until 2014, and when it did, Moore was ready. She went to work, winning the Target Maui Pro -- and inking a contract with Target along the way.
The following year, Moore put in what may have been the best performance of her storied career. Winning the event in dominating fashion, she was literally unstoppable; in perfect rhythm with the perfect surf that was pouring through the bay. And when it was over, she'd not only gone back-to-back at Honolua but also earned her third World Title.
She had to settle for second in 2016 as Wright was on an absolute tear. Then in 2017, she uncharacteristically lost in the Quarters. But it's worth noting that 2017 a relatively tough year on Tour for Moore, who finished 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard -- the only time in her decade-long run on Tour that she's finished outside of the top three.
Ever the inspiration, Moore worked her tail off to regain her form in 2018, and by season's end she was in familiar territory atop the podium at Honolua. Carrying that momentum into her 2019 campaign, she went next level all season long. After a ridiculously consistent year in which she won two events and never missed Finals day, she clinched her fourth World Title, or course, at Honolua. She got tripped up Gilmore in the Semis, who went on to win the event, but by then the hard yards were done and it was time to celebrate.
Moore's enjoyed a lot of season-ending glory on Maui, but at the dawn of a new year on the Championship Tour, this time she'll begin her journey there. Looking to defend her World Title, she's clearly the one to beat out there. The question is, can anyone rise to the occasion?