Competition commences in small waves at Teahupoo
TEAHUPO’O, Tahiti (Saturday, August 24, 2019) - The world’s best surfers commenced competition at the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o presented by Hurleytoday with the opening Seeding Round completed in three-to-five foot (1 - 1.5 metre) waves at Teahupo’o.
Event No. 7 of 11 on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley, occupies one of the most critical points of the season for both the WSL Title Race and 2020 Requalification Battle.
Kolohe Andino (USA), current WSL No. 1, is the first Californian male to hold the frontrunner spot in 23 years - since San Clemente’s Shane Beschen in 1996 - and the young natural-footer is adapting to new pressures associated with being in the lead.
“Having the frontrunner spot is a position I’ve never had prior to this year so there are a lot of new things that go with it,” Andino said. “I feel like I’m adjusting well and I’m just focusing on being present in my heats and surfing the best I can. Get the waves, win the heat, win the comp - that’s how you win the World Title and that’s the plan.”
An eight-year veteran of the elite Championship Tour at the young age of 25, Andino has posted strong results at Teahupo’o in recent seasons with a 5th, a 3rd and a 5th in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
“I love coming to Tahiti and feel like I get better at surfing this wave every year,” Andino said. “It was a spot where all the guys I looked up to when I was younger surfed really well so it’s a spot I wanted to commit myself to surfing well when I made the Tour. Looking forward to the rest of the window.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 11-time WSL Champion and current WSL No. 8, survived a slow start in his Seeding Round battle against Deivid Silva (BRA) and Frederico Morais (PRT). Sitting in third position at the halfway mark, the iconic Floridian posted two scoring waves in a manner of minutes to rocket to first and avoid relegation to the Elimination Round.
“Getting a couple of advancing scores at Teahupo’o can happen pretty quickly as it’s a small playing field,” Slater said. “The waves were a bit wonky and I had a slow start and was getting pretty frustrated. Everyone had equal opportunity though. I think everyone wants to have heats with big barrels out here and, while it looks like we’ll get that in the coming days, it wasn’t the case today. Stoked to get a win and looking forward to ‘Chopes turning on over the next few days.”
The rounding out of the current Top 10 saw Filipe Toledo (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) all advance into Round 3, while Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Ryan Callinan (AUS) have been relegated to the Elimination Round.
"That was a hard heat," said Ferreira. "It was hard to get in deep but I am glad to get that one. That was one of the best waves of the heat. It is hard to compete when the conditions are like this but I am glad to make it through. I've been watching Kauli Vaast the last few days and he is always catching the best ones and getting deep. I was glad to surf with him in that one."
Owen Wright (AUS), current WSL No. 12, punctuated the afternoon action with lightning-fast surfing on his forehand to post an emphatic Seeding Round 3 and advance directly to the Round of 32.
“It’s great to be back in Tahiti and to have my family with me,” Wright said. “Conditions today weren’t ideal, but looks like we have great waves coming and good to get the opening rounds completed so we can finish in the juice. Boards feel great, body feels great. Looking forward to the rest of the event and hoping for a good result.”
Complementing the intensifying of the 2019 WSL Title race is the crystallization of the battle for requalification for the 2020 Championship Tour.
Soli Bailey (AUS), 2019 WSL Championship Tour rookie and current WSL No. 32, posted an impressive opening round heat win this morning against reigning two-time WSL Champion and defending Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o winner Gabriel Medina (BRA) and fellow rookie Peterson Crisanto (BRA).
“Great to start the event with a win first up,” Bailey said. “Great for the confidence. The learning curve is so huge for your rookie season and I’ve had some strong moments but also trying to soak up a lot. Lots of opportunity left in the season and I’ll hopefully get the ball rolling here in Tahiti and push past the Round of 32.”
Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o pres. by Hurley Seeding Round (Round 1) Results:
Heat 1: Soli Bailey (AUS) 9.50, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6.13, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 0.77
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.50, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.90, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 3.00
Heat 3: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 8.83, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5.50, Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.16, Kauli Vaast (FRA) 7.07, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 1.20
Heat 5: Joan Duru (FRA) 9.37, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.70, Tyler Newton (HAW) 3.54
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.73, Yago Dora (BRA) 11.20, Matahi Drollet (PYF) 5.56
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 10.63, Deivid Silva (BRA) 8.76, Frederico Morais (PRT) 8.00
Heat 8: Ricardo Christie (NZL) 10.23, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.67, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 7.54
Heat 9: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.66, Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.60, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 9.34
Heat 10: Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.50, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.77, Michel Bourez (FRA) 6.90
Heat 11: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.33, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.36, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 6.26
Heat 12: Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.70, Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.13, Conner Coffin (USA) 9.67