Could it be the year of the frosted coffee bean? Photo: Rip Curl
Here Are The Official Unofficial World Title Scenarios Heading Into Hawaii
Did Lakey throw her Round 1 heat on purpose?
Command c/v is a prized tool for any modern writer.
This basic maneuver allows us to extract critical information from any web browser and transfer it into our own stories, where it will sometimes appear as a cited source and other times framed as our own handiwork.
For this particular article, where we analyze the men's and women's World Title scenarios heading into Hawaii, I'll be plagiarizing myself, which is the most legal but also the most embarrassing form of thievery.
Nevertheless, in case you missed it in today's post-Rip Curl Pro comp wrap, below is a breakdown of who needs what to win the Title at Pipe and Honolua.
We'll do the women first, not just because I'm an upstanding gentleman but also because their race is more intricate than the men's.
Heading into Portugal, Carissa Moore's season point total was more than 8,000 points ahead of her nearest competitor, Lakey Peterson. At first glance, it appeared that Carissa could win the Title easily in Portugal. This was not the case. For Carissa to win the Title, she practically had to win the whole comp, thanks to the WSL's drop-your-two-lowest-events rule.
Simply put, every surfer's two worst event scores get dropped at year's end, so the World Champ of a 10-event season (for the women) is determined using just eight events.
This system functions quite differently on the male and female tours.
Because the women have just 18 surfers per event (compared to the men's 36), it is much more difficult to collect "non-keeper" scores of 9ths and 17ths. In fact, across the nine total women's events so far this year, Carissa's worst result has been a quarterfinal (5th), and she only earned that placing twice. Everything else has been semis and finals.
Perceptually, this level of consistency has come back to bite Carissa toward the end of the season. While her closest competitors (Lakey and Caroline) will both (most likely) drop a pair of 9ths (2,610 points apiece) from their end-of-year totals, Carissa will (most likely) be losing her two 5ths (4,745 points apiece), which is nearly double the number of points lost.
So that 8,000-point lead Carissa appeared to have heading into Portugal was functionally closer to a 3,000-point lead—a massive difference.
Now let's jump to the actual event.
Lakey Peterson, in what was either an extremely happy accident or one of the smartest tactical moves in the history of surfing*, lost her Round 1 heat. That sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.
For those who don't know how the WSL's new seeding system works, I recommend you read this. Otherwise, you'll just have to trust me when I say that by losing her Round 1 heat, Lakey put herself in the lowest seed (4th) of the top seeding bracket. Being the fourth seed placed Lakey on Carissa's side of the draw, which meant that if both women continued to advance through heats, they would meet each other before the final.
This is precisely what Lakey needed if she wanted a legitimate chance at the Title.
Getting to surf against Carissa earlier in the event allowed Lakey to block the Hawaiian from reaching the final, where she would have earned a minimum of 7,800 points. Lakey's semifinal victory over Riss limited the 3x Champ to just 6,085 points in Portugal and even gave Lakey the opportunity to take the "provisional" World Title lead, should she have won the final (she did not).
Pre-meditated or not, Lakey's losing in Round 1 and subsequent beating of Riss in the semis allowed her to climb within 1,000 "provisional" points of Carissa heading into Honolua.
Meanwhile, Caroline Marks' victory in Portugal threw her straight back into the race—she's now just 3,000 "provisional" points behind Moore.
Here's a complete breakdown:
Current total (only one low event removed): 58,600 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 53,855
Current total (only one low event removed): 55,125
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 52,515
Current total (only one low event removed): 53,410
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 50,800
So, at Honolua:
- if Carissa finishes equal-to or higher-than both Lakey and Caroline, she wins the Title
- if Lakey loses before the semifinals, she cannot win the Title
- if Lakey makes the semifinals, she must finish at least one spot ahead of Carissa to win the Title
- if Caroline loses before the final, she cannot win the Title
- if Caroline makes the final, she must finish at least two spots ahead of Carissa and at least one spot ahead of Lakey to win the Title.
- if Caroline gets second at Honolua, Carissa loses before the semis, and Lakey loses in the semis, Lakey and Caroline will have a surf-off for the Title
There are probably more theoretical scenarios, but you get the gist.
Also, keep in mind that the final women's event is not just about the Title. These same three gals are also fighting for the two American female Olympic slots. So runner-up is still plenty valuable.
Portugal flipped the male Title race right on its head.
Fourth place (Italo) went to first, first (Medina) went to second (thanks, Caio!), second (Filipe) went to third (don't believe what the WSL tells you), and third (Jordy) went to fourth. Fifth (Kolohe) stayed right where he was at the back of the bus.
Of course, that's not exactly what the WSL will tell you.
Here's a complete breakdown:
Current total (only one low event removed): 51,070 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 49,740
Current total (only one low event removed): 50,005 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 48,675
Current total (only one low event removed): 49,145 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 47,815
Current total (only one low event removed): 49,985 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 46,665
Current total (only one low event removed): 44,665 points
Adjusted current total (both low events removed): 43,335
As you can see, Jordy officially sits in third place due to his "Current total," which calculates the South African's accumulative points minus just one event. However, if we take the step to eliminate Jordy's second low score, a 9th (-3,320 points), he ends up falling behind Filipe Toledo, whose second low score is a 17th ('1,330 points).
Therefore, in reality, or at least in relation to the World Title race, Filipe is actually in third place. Like Carissa, Jordy is perceptually paying the price for having a "more consistent" season than his peers.
So, at Pipe:
- if Italo ties or places higher than the other four surfers, he will win the Title
- if Medina beats Italo by at least one spot (while not losing to the other three surfers), he will win the Title
- if Filipe wins the Pipe Masters, he will win the Title
- if Jordy wins the Pipe Masters and Italo loses before the final, he will win the Title
- Kolohe needs precisely seven miracles to happen for him to win the Title
Due to the number of surfers involved, there are far too many potential outcomes to list them all above, but hopefully you get the picture.
It is, in theory, Italo's Title to lose.
But I'm sure Medina doesn't see it that way.
*I just watched the Heat Analyzer of Lakey's Round 1 heat. In the dying minutes of the heat, Lakey was in second place (an advancing position) and held priority over the third-place surfer, Nikki Van Dijk. Rather than sitting alongside Nikki to block her from getting a wave that could potentially turn the heat, Lakey stayed on the other end of the competition zone twiddling her thumbs with the heat leader, Macy Callaghan. This goes against every principle that her coach, Mike Parsons, stands for in terms of competitive strategy. And you can probably guess what happened next—Nikki caught a wave with seconds remaining and overtook second position, relegating Lakey to the loser's round and positioning her to meet Carissa earlier in the event. Very interesting, indeed.