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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Sun, 3 December 2017

Michael February fell short of a berth on the 2018 WSL tour after falling in Round 4 of the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach yesterday, the last qualifying event of the year, writes Spike.

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FINALE: Conner Coffin wins at Sunset Beach, the last QS event of the year. Photo WSL / Heff

It was heartbreaking for the stylish Capetonian, who bowed out of the race at the last hurdle. You will see his face three times of surfers who have won Qualifying Series (QS) events on the WSL website page, but sadly, you'll also see 1,000 points next to each event, the points you get for winning.

The best five results of the year are tallied for the QS and more more prestigious events carry a 10,000 next to their name. Surfers need at least one if not two big results in these. This was one of them. The Vans World Cup was worth 10,000 points. It was close, agonisingly close. He has climbed the ladder during a stellar year, the best of his career and we can but hope of more in the future.

February charges at Sunset, and looked really good, but came just lost out of a Quarters berth (he got a third in his Round 4 heat when he needed a minimum of a second) after doing the hard yards, including winning his Round Three heat that featured former world Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA).

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FINALE FOR FEBRUARY: Mikey fell short of a berth on the CT next year. Photo WSL / Heff

February needed to at least make the semi-finals of the Vans to sneak into the CT next year. However, the way it's decided who goes on tour next year is a bewildering metric.

The qualification process works something like this: the WSL Top 34 for 2018 will consist of the top 22 ranked CT surfers at the end of this year plus the top 10 from the 2017 QS but minus anyone from the CT who have QS results as backup for their requalification on the CT. Oh, and there are two wild cards.

For instance, Jordy Smith - never mind what happens to him in the CT in a matter of days at the Pipeline Masters - banked 10,000 points in the Ballito Pro earlier this year, which rocketed him to 16,200 points on the QS. He ends the year 14th on the QS ranking, one ahead of February, who ended on 16.050.

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FENCING: Conner Coffin was on top form for the Vans World Cup. Photo WSL / Heff

It seems odd that the CT guys are allowed to rain on the QS parade, but them's the rules. Yes, the CT results on the QS are not counted in the final QS tally, and they say you can't deny a guy trying to do good by his sponsors and earning some dosh for his family, but isn't this "cluttering" the lineup so to speak?

What's also odd is the huge points differential. February would have to win 10 QS1,000 events to match one 10,000 result. But of course, the argument goes, you have to win in the big ones to make your mark, in any sport. Anyway, February has proven his BMT and he's in it for the long haul and the @vibesrgood

For the record, the rookie surfers who make the two next year are Griffin Colapinto (QS #1, USA), Jesse Mendes (QS #2, BRA), Tomas Hermes (QS #5 BRA), Yago Dora (QS #6 BRA), Willian Cardoso (QS #8 BRA), and Wade Carmichael (QS #4 AUS). Hawaiians Keanu Asing and Ezekiel Lau had to watch other surfers decide their requalification hopes ... but both made it on the CT next year.

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IN THE POCKET: Spain's Aritz Aranburu pulls into a clean Sunset tube. Photo WSL / Heff

According to the WSL, Kanoa Igarashi and Italo Ferreira have a great shot of double-qualifying at Pipeline. If they do - in other words removing themselves from QS qualification and qualifying via the CT, another two QS surfers stand in line. The first one is Brazil's Michael Rodrigues. The next is Californian Patrick Gudauskas.

Guess who would have been next? Gudauskas is 13th on the QS on 16,400 points. Next is, yes you guessed it, Michael February on 15th (with 14th Jordy not in the mix). So close.

Meanwhile, at Sunset Beach, Conner Coffin snuck in to win the Vans World Cup yesterday. The Californian, currently ranked #21 on the CT, beat another Californians, Kolohe Andino and Griffin Colapinto, and as well as Australian Wade Carmichael.

Carmichael has been flirting with CT qualification for the past few years, and suffered a terrible near-miss in 2015 after winning the Hawaiian Pro that winter. This time he finished 3rd.

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