Dusty Payne, fins free last year at Sunset. Photo: DJ Struntz
If the QS season was a night out, the Hawaiian leg would be the time between midnight and 2am. It’s the time when your innocent “couple drinks after dinner” can morph into an epic evening of dicing up the dance floor. Or, adversely, tailspin into disappointment after you spill a glass, get kicked out, and find yourself on your friends couch, elbow-deep in a bag of Cheetos while using his old high school wrestling sweatshirt as a blanket. To finish your year strong is to capitalize in Hawaii.
With the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa having wrapped up after Wade Carmichael’s steak-fueled heroics, the pending start of Vans World Cup at Sunset signifies crunch time for those looking to make one last pass at the WT. The hour’s a half past twelve and there’s still plenty of points up for grabs – so here’s a handful of faces we’d love to see out on the hardwood come closing time. –Dayton Silva
Ryan Callinan – He’s just an all around good kid. And don’t they say good things happen to good people? Well, they might be wrong sometimes, but in Ryan’s case we sure hope they’re right. As it stands, Ryan is ninth on the QS. With a solid result at Sunset, he could make his campaign for the 2016 tour a sure thing. His goofyfooted spring and patented backhand whip would be a welcomed sight to the CT.
High spirits, low profile. Dusty hopes to sneak another one past the Q. Photo: Jimmicane
Dusty Payne – The man earns it – there’s no way around that. Although his results on the CT have been underwhelming in the past, he works hard and is always an entertaining one to watch come Hawaii. Just like last year, we could be seeing some fourth quarter heroics from Dusty. With a Quarterfinal finish, he’s right back on the horse again – and possibly with the question in his head, “How many more times will I be able to pull that off?” If we do see him on the big stage in 2016, a spark will certainly be lit.
Conner Coffin – U–S–A, U–S–A. Can’t you just hear the bald eagle call as a Harley Davidson revs off into the sunset? An impressive performance at Sunset is crucial for Conner, as he currently sits in the 14th spot on the Q. According to Al Hunt of the WSL, a Quarterfinal finish would do the job. And if that job is done, he’s already on my fantasy team for J-Bay.
Nate Yeomans – You know that Harley that was riding off into the sunset? Well, Nate Yoemans was the one straddling that hog – American flag bandana and all. But seriously, Nate had a run at the tour back when that whole mid-year cutoff was a thing, and unfortunately fell victim to the ol’ rookie shakes. Now five years later, Yeomans is one Semifinal finish away from a second chance. If you’re at all a fan of Cinderella stories, Nate’s your man.
Zeke, far from dainty. Photo: Jimmicane
Ezekiel Lau – Power – you can never have too much of it. Zeke could be a shaker on the CT. With his sheer athleticism and unmatched brute, there’s no telling what he could pull out of his hat come the big leagues. A Semifinal finish at Sunset would put Lau in the land of qualification, and we’d love to see him pay a visit – maybe even an extended stay.
Michael Rodrigues – Because who the sh-t is Michael Rodrigues!? Honestly, if you’re not an avid fan of the Qualifying Series, you’ve probably never heard of him. (If you are, would you mind organizing my garage and doing my taxes this year? Because you probably have way too much time on your hands.) New faces are always nice, and that’s exactly what Rodrigues would be – a Semifinal finish would get him there.