AQUITAINE, France, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Surfer Courtney Conlogue can be the first American woman to be world champion in a generation if things go just right at an event in France.
With two events remaining in the 2015 pro surfing women’s world tour, Conlogue, 23, from landlocked Santa Ana, Calif., could become the first American woman to win a world title since 1997. Conlogue would also be the first Californian, man or woman, to win a world title since 1990.
The Roxy Pro France began Wednesday at the surf break called Hossegor. If Conlogue wins the event and her nearest competitor, Carissa Moore of Hawaii, loses early in the event, Conlogue can clinch the title. It’s not a likely scenario however, given that Moore has been world champ twice, but it is possible. In competitive surfing, Hawaii competes as a separate nation, in honor of the islands being the birthplace of the ancient sport.
Conlogue and Moore have competed against each other since their early teens in amateur events. They have traded victories over the years, but since reaching theWorld Surfing League’s elite Women’s Championship Tour four years ago, Conlogue — though very successful — has finished just out of title contention.
In 2014, Conlogue was out of the water four months with an ankle injury, but since her return, she has been perhaps the most fierce competitor on the women’s tour.
In a battle for No. 1 since April, she took the lead for the first time in her career after the U.S. Open of Surfing in California in August, then lost it a month later at the Swatch Pro a few miles south. She regained it after winning the Cascais Women’s Pro in Portugal Sept. 27. The Roxy Pro France is Conlogue’s opportunity to at least increase her lead and make the final event of the season, the Target Maui Pro in late November, a less high-pressure affair.
Conlogue said she’s enjoying the fight.
“It was good to feel that and to have it taken away from me and feel that disappointment,” Conlogue told the WSL. “It just stoked the fire. I’m going into this discovering and adapting and learning. It’s awesome to be part of this … to see who comes out on top at the end.”
In 1997, Florida’s Lisa Andersen won her fourth consecutive and final world title. Her championship run also helped her become the face of Quiksilver’s Roxy brand and create a boom in women’s surf wear.
Since then, no American woman has come close to Andersen’s success, until Conlogue, who is the same age as Andersen’s daughter.