A Wildcard Just Won The Second Straight CT Event — How?
Barron Mamiya and Brisa Hennessy get their first wins, will wear yellow in Portugal.
Less than two weeks ago, Moana Jones Wong trampled the field at Pipeline, making her the first wildcard to win a CT event in nearly a decade.
Today, another local wildcard, Barron Mamiya, went blow for blow with the tour’s best and emerged victorious.
Meanwhile Brisa Hennessy, who recently requalifed for the CT via the Challenger Series, took home her first win today over an 11-year veteran who has never won a CT event, Malia Manuel. They are now numbers one and two in the world respectively.
The waves on the final day were smaller than ideal, but with the forecast looking iffy, the WSL had little choice but to run. According to the League’s newest (and best) commentator, Makua Rothman, it was ‘tweener Sunset — a little big for the point, but too small for the bowl. As a result, wave selection determined just about every heat today.
Let’s talk below about how it all panned out, but first…
Highlights: Ibelli Burgers’ stock. Peaks up the point. T&C Surfboards. End sections.
Lowlights: Small swell. Malia’s record in CT finals.
Semi 1: Gabriela Bryan vs Malia Manuel
The battle of Kauai — one tour vet, one first-year.
Gabriela looked like the favorite early on, but the more experienced Malia played the waiting game and it paid off. She slashed the largest wave of the heat for a 7.33 and never looked back. Still a great result for the rookie, who now sits at number six on the women’s rankings.
Semi 2: Brisa Hennessy vs Bettylou Sakura Johnson
Brisa ran away with this heat from the beginning. She absolutely belted her first wave with three huge turns, scoring nines across the board and baptizing the caddis with her spray. She followed it up with a 6.17, placing Bettylou on the combo block for the next 26 minutes — and there were opportunities for the Hawaiian. Brisa rode seven waves throughout the heat, while Bettylou got only three and an 8.23 total.
Final: Brisa Hennessy vs Malia Manuel
Helluva journey for these two women. The WSL gave Malia a season wildcard after she finished below the cutoff in 2021. Across the aisle, Brisa did fall off after last year and had to get back on via the CS. After all that and a deep Sunset run, the winner of their heat would don the yellow jersey in Portugal.
Brisa looked impressive in her first final, using a low and sturdy stance on her Glen Pang to carve out a high-five and a seven. Malia got a swooping 6.33 to start the heat, but she couldn’t get anything substantial after. The loss brings Malia’s CT finals record to a startling 0-7.
Semi 1: Barron Mamiya vs Caio Ibelli
The wildcards meet. But does it really feel like these guys are wildcards?
After today’s performance, in conjunction with what sh/c/would have been a deep Pipe run (sans Slater wizardry), I don’t want to hear the words “darkhorse”, “underdog”, or “upset” associated with Barron anymore — at least in Hawaii.
Then there’s Caio, who, we’ll just go ahead and say it: he looks significantly better/more confident at surfing than ever before. Maybe it’s the new Rustys?
Coming off a tactical W over Zeke Lau in the quarters, Caio nearly got the best of another Hawaiian, wildcard Barron, in the semis. With a minute left, and holding a slim lead with priority, Caio let Barron take a foamy peak, thinking there would be something better behind it. The young Hawaiian did what he needed to do to secure the low-three requirement, and another wave never came.
Barron ended Caio’s dream run, but not before they both earned enough points to
requalify at the mid-year cut.
Semi 2: Ethan Ewing vs Kanoa Igarashi
Kanoa took advantage of the smaller swell to drop hammers on Jack Robinson in the quarters, setting up a banger of a matchup with Ethan Ewing. Much has been debated about Sunset’s place on the CT, but I don’t think either of these guys mind. Power meets powerhouse and the result is electric. Like Ethan, Kanoa has been a standout all event. They went blow for blow, starting with sevens on their first waves. Then Kanoa causally launched himself into the most harrowing and frothy end section of the day, getting swallowed and then reemerging to the tune of 9.03. Ethan did Ethan things to get an 8, but it wasn’t enough. Kanoa to the final.
Final: Kanoa Igarashi vs Barron Mamiya
Kanoa is a devoted Sharp Eye team rider, but to harness Sunset’s speed, he opted for Glen Pang’s T&C. Despite the local foam beneath Kanoa’s feet, it wasn’t enough to edge out the local wildcard and fellow Sharp Eye rider, Barron Mamiya.
After Barron’s priority blunder, Kanoa started the final with a six, flaring his fins at the end for emphasis. It was a good start for a 24-year-old, who has spent a quarter of his life on the CT.
Meanwhile Barron waited out the back, biding his time until the right wave (or at least one he could catch) would come to his preferred part of the reef. The Snapt4 unofficial winner didn’t stand up until halfway through the final, but when he did he made it count with a 6.83.
Kanoa’s wave selection failed him on the next set, and Barron made him pay, dearly. Burying his rail twice on one of the steeper waves of the day, Barron dropped an 8.17 for a wave that easily could have gone higher. It looked like he put everything into those turns.
Kanoa did what he could to claw back in the heat, but it was all for naught when Barron dropped an 8.83 for another two-turn hammer. Comboed, final over. A wildcard wins again (and he’ll be wearing yellow in Portugal).
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Quarterfinals Results:
HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.03 DEF. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.23
HEAT 2: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.50 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.43
HEAT 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.70 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 10.87
HEAT 4: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 16.27 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.27
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 10.37 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 9.80
HEAT 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JAP) 16.20 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 15.83
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Men’s Final Results:
1- Barron Mamiya (HAW) 17.00
2- Kanoa Igarashi (AUS) 12.33
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Women’s Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.66 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.23
HEAT 2: Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 15.17 DEF. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 8.23
Hurley Pro Sunset Beach Women’s Final Results:
1 – Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 12.83
2 – Malia Manuel (HAW) 7.46
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