Unfortunately, the first jewel in the crown looks like it's going to be small.
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii – At times ferocious, with the most vicious rip known to man, as well as the collapsing Toilet Bowl end-section, Haleiwa is not to be taken lightly. Unless it’s tiny, that is. If it’s small, it becomes an aerial-fest of lefts and rights and little ramps that not even groms are scared of.
This year’s opening event in the Vans Triple Crown, the Hawaiian Pro, is looking like it is going to be pretty much on the little side of things, with the first few days looking flat, and the rest of the waiting period looking decidedly insipid.
Not that it’ll make that much difference to those desperate Qualifying Series cowboys, all hell-bent on upping their points and ratings in order to get onto the Championship Tour for 2018.
All it’ll mean is that the standard Haleiwa paddle-machine step-ups will be put away, and a whole bunch of highly-tuned small wave shooters will be lined up on the beach, for these competitors to get the most out of the slighter conditions that are set to prevail.
That’s ok. At this late stage of the game we can expect some massive aerial performances from a crew of the most progressive aerial surfers in the world, starting off with the world champion.
John John can get above the lip like few others, and as defending event champion, Jeep Leaderboard leader and defending world champ on his home turf, he’s going to bust out.
Filipe Toledo is in the game as well, and his air surfing this year has been groundbreaking at virtually every stop. The smaller conditions forecasted for Haleiwa are going to suit him, and he’s going to be doing some crazy stuff. Not sure if he has anything new in the bag, but his heats will always be pure entertainment.
Kerrzy is also not going to hold back. He has absolutely no need to. Previous two times World Air Show titles, as well as Chippa Wilson’s ‘Flight To The Flats’ air contest, he has announced his Championship Tour retirement and is finishing the year off with the freedom to fly.
Mikey Wright, at 22 on the QS ranking with 10,905 point to his name, is another surfer who could blow some minds at a small wave shoot-out. He is still hungry for points and to climb onto the tour with his siblings, and a spirited performance similar to the one he presented at the Ballito Pro this year could see him gain ground on his quest.
Jordy Smith might be one of the biggest surfers on tour, but he is light-footed and nimble in the smaller stuff, and a zippering little right-hander is to his advantage. Years of small New Pier in his DNA will do that to you, and under these conditions he is also at his most confident.
Stuart Kennedy’s situation is fairly dire, but a win could get him back into contention on the QS. His performances have been poor to erratic, and it is a big task for him to perform under this much pressure. He’s done it before however, and if he can visualize small Haleiwa as just a fun old day at Snapper, then his boards might start listening to him underfoot and allow him to surf with the same glorious approach that he took to his breakout 2016 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast event, and the popular guy will stoke out a lot of people in the process.