The 2016 Maui Women's Pro was marked by some huge upsets, close calls and a lot of waiting. But when finals day finally rolled around, it all came down to two of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour's (CT) titans: Tyler Wright, who just earned her first World Title, and Carissa Moore, who has three Titles to her name -- and has won the past two Maui contests, consecutively -- faced off in the Final.
Up until the last three minutes, it looked like Moore was about to threepeat. She'd opened with a nine and at one point, Wright needed two new scores to catch up. But then, the Honolua Bay turned on just enough to make the difference. Wright put one new score on the board and waited. And waited some more. And then, as the minutes ticked away she found the long, righthand runner that she needed to take down Moore.
And while Wright's win should come as no surprise -- after four event wins this season, why not nab a fifth? -- it did add one new coup to her growing tally. Her Maui win was her first ever over Moore in a Final battle. Not a bad closing triumph after a long season of success.
Wright and Moore, however, weren't the only ones who got the crowd cheering Saturday from the cliffs. As the last event of the CT season, Maui was a mix of a pressure-cooker for some and a victory lap for others, punctuated by moments of brilliance and painful goodbyes.
Another standout Saturday was Courtney Conlogue who, once Tyler became the Champ last month, no longer had Title pressure with which to contend. She had her coach in tow: Longtime CT surfer Luke Egan teamed up with Conlogue starting at the Cascais Women's Pro in September. But with Tyler having won the Championship in France Conlgoue was free to try new things in Maui, from equipment to strategy and beyond, and her efforts took her all the way to the Semis.
While lower-ranked surfers on the CT fell out Saturday under Quarterfinal hammers, one of them still shined brightly. Keely Andrew, the rookie who took down Stephanie Gilmore Friday in a stunning upset, was still carrying that momentum and took down Coco Ho. Andrew went down in the very next heat to Tyler, but she had already made her mark. Her Semifinal finish in Maui was her best all year, and shows that she'll be able to hold her own when she's back in 2017.
Saturday also saw the final CT heat (barring a 2018 return) for Bianca Buitendag, who lost her Quarterfinal battle to Conlogue. Buitendag needed to win the Maui Pro to stay on tour -- a tall order for anyone, but even more so with stakes that high. And yet in her post-heat interview she was as philosophical as always. As for a potential 2017 QS run to return to the elite tour? To be determined, she said, adding that her faith will guide her to the right decision.