Filipe Toledo (BRA) has won the Corona Open J-Bay today after besting 2017 CT Rookie Frederico Morais (PRT) in the Final. Stop No. 6 of 11 on the 2017 Championship Tour was graced with flawless conditions, resulting in barrier-breaking performances by the world’s best surfers, eight perfect 10-point rides and no shortage of drama.
Toledo, who was responsible for two of these Perfect 10s, showcased a new level to his progressive approach and will be rewarded with a boost from 14th to 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard. Today’s result also marks the Brazilian superstar’s best finish of the season to reboot his 2017 World Title campaign.
“I can’t believe it,” said Toledo. “J-Bay is always a contest that’s been my dream to win. To surf perfect waves like this that we did the entire contest. I’ve got to thank god for the amazing week that we’ve had. I’ve got my entire family here and supporting me. It’s unbelievable and I’m speechless. I think I might leave my hair like this for the rest of the year.”
Toledo’s fourth CT win did not come easy as a stacked field of competitors put the 22-year-old to task in each round. Toledo previously dispatched local favorite Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the Quarterfinals with two impressive 9-point rides and then eliminated Julian Wilson (AUS) in the Semifinals.
“It has been an amazing week,” Toledo said. “This is definitely going to be the competition I remember for forty or fifty years, not just because I won but because of the level of surfing during this whole week. With J-Bay, the perfect waves and the level of surfing, it was perfect. Thank you to my crew that has supported me. I want to thank my wife and my daughter who have been here all week supporting me.”
The intense Final saw exciting exchanges between the Toledo and Morais. The two progressive challengers continued to deliver excellent-range scores for the J-Bay crowd, both escaping big barrels and unleashing big carves. With ten minutes left on the clock, another set provided both surfers an opportunity to improve their scores. Morais locked in a near-perfect 9.40 to close the gap to just 0.27 points on Toledo’s 18.00 two-wave total. Toledo attempted to improve his scoreline, but left priority with Morais for the remaining two minutes of the heat. Morais was not able to meet the requirement, giving Toledo the win.
Despite losing to Toledo in the Final, Morais delivered phenomenal surfing throughout his first CT event in South Africa. The rookie previously stunned the competition with a Perfect 10 to defeat reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) in the Quarterfinals, before eliminating 2015 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the Semifinals. Morais’ career-best finish will now move him up from World No. 18 to 12th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I just love this place, it is amazing,” Morais said. “Everyone is so nice, the waves are amazing, the weather is really similar to home, and the vibe that you feel here is crazy good. It is an unforgettable place. Thank you to everyone for watching and supporting us. First Final ever on the World Tour and it is amazing.
“Surfing against John (Florence), Mick (Fanning), Adriano (de Souza), Gabriel (Medina), Filipe (Toledo) was a crazy week,” continued Morais. “It is always a big challenge and you have to step up your game when you are against those guys. They are the best surfers in the world and World Champs and if you want to beat them you have to be prepared for everything. It is amazing to represent Portugal and be the first Portuguese surfer doing a Final on the World Tour. Thank you to everyone at home.”
2015 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) was dispatched by runner-up Morais in the Semifinals after the rookie posted two excellent-range scores. Today’s result is Medina’s first Semifinal berth since Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and his career-best result at this event (previously earned 5th place finishes in 2014, 2015, 2016). Previously at No. 11 on the Jeep Leaderboard, the Brazilian moves to 9th.
Julian Wilson (AUS) secured his best result of 2017 with a Semifinal berth today where he was defeated by Toledo. Wilson had a great run during the event including a Perfect 10 in Round 3 and remains at 8th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
Current Jeep Ratings Leader Matt Wilkinson (AUS) was defeated by Semifinalist Wilson in the last Quarterfinal match-up. Despite his 5th place result in South Africa, Wilkinson will retain the Jeep Leader Jersey heading into the next CT stop, the Billabong Pro Tahiti.
“I started that heat and I fell on one really good wave that put me out of rhythm, but I am stoked that I came back to nearly take the heat,” Wilkinson said. “To watch all the guys that were in the race for this event dropping 9s and 10s, and to be the last guy left was pretty nice. To surf against Jules (Julian Wilson) in pumping waves is awesome. I will probably go to Teahupo’o to practice if there is a swell. I am excited to go back and hopefully get pumping waves.”
Two-time event winner Jordy Smith (ZAF) was eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Toledo and the 5th place finish (his third of the season) will see the South African remain at No. 3 on the rankings. It was an incredible event for Smith who posted a Perfect 20-point heat in Round 3 and another Perfect 10 in Round 5.
“This comp has had some amazing points for me and some where I’ve struggled, but overall I’m proud of myself and I stood tall between those moments and dealt with them,” Smith said. “Filipe (Toledo) surfed great in that last heat and he definitely got better waves than I did and that’s really the difference out there. I’m just really, really tired. Yesterday was just a big day for me. I just want to thank Jeffreys Bay for all the support and everybody that came down, it really meant a lot and I really appreciate that. I learn every time when I come here. There’s a lot of pressure because everybody wants me to do well and I want to do well you just have to take each heat for what it is. The year really starts now and Tahiti is next so I’m focused on that now and we’ll see where that puts me.”
The next stop on the 2017 Men’s WSL CT will be the Billabong Pro Tahiti from August 11 – 22, 2017. The women will next compete at the Vans US Open of Surfing, which opens July 31 and runs through August 6, 2017.
In a welcome move for the tour Kelly’s brand Outerknown has picked up title sponsorship of the Fiji Pro. Cloudbreak and Kelly go way back so it makes sense. Of course if he wins the event it might get a bit awkward… The judges will be on their best behaviour 😉
The World Surf League (WSL) today announces Outerknown as the title sponsor of the iconic WSL Championship Tour event in Fiji. The three-year partnership includes both men’s and women’s competitions at the OK Fiji Pro, which runs this season from May 28 through June 16, 2017.
Founded by 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore, Outerknown is a coastal-minded clothing brand that explores the connections between style and sustainability. By viewing every aspect of their business through the lens of responsibility, they aim to protect natural resources, empower the people crafting their clothes, and inspire positive change within the industry. Outerknown’s versatile collection is built with innovative, organic, and recycled materials sourced from factories that share their values.
Slater has delivered consistently barrier-breaking performances at the elite level in Fiji and the four-time event winner has a strong relationship with the island of Tavarua, making it his favorite wave, and the OuterKnown partnership a natural evolution.
“I fell in love with the small island of Tavarua a long time ago and I go back a few times every year.” said Kelly Slater. “It’s definitely my favorite escape and may be home to the happiest people on earth.”
A staple on the globally-celebrated WSL Championship Tour schedule, the Fiji stop epitomizes the “Dream Tour” concept and exists as a fan and athlete favorite. Boasting two world-class lefthand reef breaks in Cloudbreak and Restaurants, Fiji consistently delivers some of the best surfing of the season. Defending event winners Johanne Defay and Gabriel Medina will lead the WSL elite back this year where Outerknown will support the event.
“We’re very excited to welcome Outerknown to the WSL family and look forward to working with them to showcase the world’s best surfers at one of the most incredible events on the Championship Tour,” said Beth Greve, WSL Chief Commercial Officer.
“Outerknown was built on a foundation of style, sustainability and travel,” said John Moore, Outerknown’s Creative Director. “For us, Fiji brings together everything we stand for. It’s the ultimate destination; lush jungles, crystal clear waters, perfect waves. You look around and are surrounded by jaw-dropping natural beauty. There’s no better place on Earth to celebrate why we’re working so hard to protect our ocean and wild places, and we hope to inspire new fans from all around the world to explore sustainability.”
“The level of surfing on tour right now, on both the men’s and women’s sides, has never been higher,” Stephanie Gilmore, 6X WSL Women’s Champion and current 2017 tour frontrunner, said. “That’s in part because we have amazing waves to perform on. Fiji has some of the best waves on the planet and is part of the fabric of the Championship Tour. Having Outerknown step up to support men’s and women’s surfing with the OK Fiji Pro for the next three years is a great thing for surfing.”
The OK Fiji Pro gets underway with the women’s competition on May 28 through June 2, followed by the men’s event, which holds a competitive window of June 4 – 16. The events will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on the WSL’s Facebook page.
Jordy Smith of South Africa advances to the final after winning Semifinal Heat 2 at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
Jordy Smith (ZAF) has won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach today after electric performances in pumping six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) conditions at the iconic venue in the Australian State of Victoria. Smith bested fellow Finalist Caio Ibelli (BRA) in a classic Bells Beach showdown to close out the Australian leg.
Jordy Smith of South Africa is the 2017 Rip Curl Pro Champion with Caio Ibelli of Brazil the runner-up. With their results Smith moves into World No. and Ibelli moves in to World No. 7 positition on the Jeep Leaderboard.
The third stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, is the longest-running professional surf event in the world. This year’s 56th iteration saw a competitive field of elite surfers throw down their best performances with Smith earning the right to ‘ring the Bell’ for the first time in his career.
Smith secured his sixth Championship Tour win today following a series of heated match-ups against Ibelli, 2017 CT Rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA). The win marks Smith’s best result here at Bells, following his runner-up finish in 2016, and moves him up to World No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I can’t even believe it — second last year and now this — it’s amazing,” Smith said. “I was stoked to have made it into Round 4 and then every heat after that was a bonus. I tried to take it easy and not take things too seriously, as you may have been able to tell from some of my claims in the Final. This is an absolute dream come true. I’ve been working on winning this event for 10 years now and to get it today is incredible.”
An intense Final witnessed Smith and Ibelli blast huge scores as they put all on the line to win. Smith charged with two 9-point rides for the lead. Ibelli answered back with a near-perfect 9.63 (out of a possible 10), needing a 9.25 with ten minutes left on the clock. Smith continued to heat things up with a 9.13, raising the requirement to a 9.28. With a 17.46 two-wave score, Ibelli was not able to defeat the South African’s commanding 18.90.
“I wasn’t sure how many opportunities I was going to get with the high tide so I just took every wave I could,” continued Smith. “Once I got the 9, a bit of the pressure dropped and then, sure enough, Caio [Ibelli] kept coming. He is an amazing surfer and has been so on point this event. After a few years of injury and re-building, I feel like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together this year. My family and wife are right behind me and I couldn’t do it without their support.”
Ibell’s runner-up finish is his career-best result on the elite CT. The 2016 Rookie of the Year showcased a new level to his surfing with powerful, high-risk maneuvers to take out a tough field of challengers in final series. In his first time competing at Bells last season, Ibelli eliminated John John Florence (HAW) in Round 3. In a Semifinal rematch, Ibelli took out Florence once again to earn his first Finals appearance. The young Brazilian will now launch from 19th to 7th on the rankings.
“This trophy is going to look really nice in my house,” Ibelli said, “This has been the best Easter I have ever had. I’m so stoked. The waves and the support at Bells is so amazing. It’s really special. To be in the Final with Jordy Smith, someone I’ve always looked up to, at a perfect wave like Bells is a dream come true for me.”
The second Semifinal saw Smith eliminate Lau from the draw after an intense clash. Lau had been on a tear all day, even eliminating 2017 World Title contender Filipe Toledo (BRA) on his way to his best-ever result on the Championship Tour. With a 13th place result on the Gold Coast and 25th at Margaret River, Lau will now climb up to 11th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I had a lot of good heats at this event and was able to put it together more than I thought I was going to at times,” Lau said. “I’m really stoked with how I surfed at this event. Coming that close to the Final and falling short does hurt a bit, but Jordy [Smith] has been surfing really well and capitalized at the end. This has definitely built up my confidence, especially after a poor result at Margaret River. I just can’t wait to get to Brazil and hopefully keep the roll going.”
Reigning WSL Champion Florence was defeated in the first Semifinal by eventual runner-up Ibelli. Florence posted extraordinary results at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, but fell just 0.20 points short of the win against the Brazilian powerhouse. Despite the Semifinal loss, Florence is off to his best start on the CT after his victory at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro and Semifinal finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Still ranked first in the world, Florence will look to defend his event title in Rio and retain the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey.
“This is by far my best start to the year, so I’m really happy,” Florence said. “I had a really fun event with some great heats, but unfortunately Caio [Ibelli] got me again at Bells Beach. I made a few mistakes that were kind of beneficial because I can take a lot from them and learn from them. I’m really looking forward to head back to Brazil in a few weeks. I’ve had success there and the waves are really fun, so it should be a great event. I’ve had an awesome Australian leg and am stoked with how it all went.”
Florence showed just how ruthless the competition is on the elite Champion Tour is with two narrow wins over three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) in Round 4 and the Quarterfinals. Four-time event winner Fanning charged down massive sets to showcase his sharp, aggressive maneuvers and earn some of the highest wave scores of the day, including an 18.86 in Round 4. Unfortunately, Fanning was not able to combat the 24-year-old competitor and will leave with a 5th place finish, his best result on the 2017 CT thus far.
“That was a great battle with John [Florence] today,” Fanning said. “We were both putting up solid scores, so it was always going to be interesting. I’m really happy with my performance at this event. It just feels good to put a few good heats together and get a bit of rhythm back. At the start of the year, I was trying to do things the way I have in the past and it just wasn’t working for me. At this event I took a really relaxed approach and it felt way better. Getting pumping waves at Bells and Winki was great and going down to the Champ is not the worst thing that could happen.”
A heated Round 5 showdown saw Fanning eliminate good friend Owen Wright (AUS) from the event. The two Australian veterans battled with big scores, including a near-perfect 9.10 from Wright and a masterful 9.60 from Fanning. With Fanning in the lead at the halfway mark, Wright needed a 9.18 in his final attempt but was not able to turn in the requirement and will say in second on the Jeep Leaderboard, now tied with Smith.
“I’m not too happy with a ninth place result, but I’ll definitely take it,” Wright said. “I don’t come into an event without high expectations, so I was definitely aiming for a better result, but I’ll still walk away with a keeper. If I was going to choose anyone to knock me out of the event it would have been Mick [Fanning], so I can’t complain about going down to him. It was great to come back and compete at Bells in great waves.”
2017 CT Rookie Frederico Morais (PRT) was eliminated in the opening Quarterfinal by Ibelli. This is the rookie’s best result as a full-time CT competitor and he will move to 19th on the Jeep Leaderboard. With early exits from the first two events this season, Morais’ comeback at Bells will put him in a great position heading into Rio.
The next stop on the 2017 WSL Championship Tour is the Oi Rio Pro in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from May 9 – 20, 2017. The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Final Results:
1 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.90 2 – Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.46
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.63 def. John John Florence (HAW) 17.43 SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.63 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.17
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.00 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 14.50 QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 16.70 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.77 QF 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 18.60 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.66 QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.77 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.53
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 2 of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), saw another massive day of action as competition moved back to the primary location at Margaret River Main Break. With five-to-eight foot (1.5 – 2.5 metre) waves on offer, the men’s event saw its first eliminations through Round 2, while the women’s event kicked off the first three heats of Round 1.
The day started with the shock elimination of 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA). Medina fell out of the draw at the hands of local wildcard Jacob Willcox (AUS). The two goofy-footers went blow for blow in the massive right-handers at Main Break, but Willcox’s local knowledge was too much for the Brazilian super-star. Medina leaves Western Australia with his first throw-away result of the season.
“Local knowledge plays a big part here, but you can never discount anyone on the CT,” Willcox said. “Winning the trials was massive for me, but taking down a former WSL Champion is definitely an awesome feeling. There are plenty of waves around still so it would be awesome if we could drift across to The Box and get some barrels at some stage.”
Three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) was another shock exit from the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro draw after he was upset by Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Heat 11 of Round 2. Igarashi was on the ropes until a set wave in the last minute gave him a score to move in front by only 0.01 of a point. Fanning was unable to resurrect the situation and uncharacteristically bows out in equal 25th.
“I went into that heat treating it like a final,” Igarashi said. “I felt like I made a mistake on my opening score, which meant I had more in the tank. All heats are nerve-racking but taking on Mick Fanning is especially difficult. He is an amazing competitor and has always been one of my favourite surfers.”
Upsets continued in Heat 2 with injury replacement Nat Young (USA) taking down current World No. 2 Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in a close goofy-foot battle. Falling off the CT at the end of 2016, Young has taken this opportunity as a wildcard to showcase his abilities. His comfort in the cold and wild conditions at Main Break was evident throughout the heat. Wilkinson will exit with a 25th place finish, while Young will have another opportunity to prove himself when he comes up against 2017 World Title contender Kolohe Andino (USA) in Round 3.
“I definitely feel really comfortable in these conditions we get in Western Australia,” Young said. “I have been coming to Margaret River since I was 16-years-old and have a good affiliation with this spot. It reminds me a lot of my home town of Santa Cruz, so I love coming here to compete. There is still pressure to perform at this event, but it’s a different kind of pressure.”
Current Jeep Rankings Leader Owen Wright (AUS) continued his stellar form with a solid performance to win Heat 3 of Round 2. Wright, who recently returned to the 2017 CT full-time, came up against rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW). Lau was pressing the entire heat, but was unable to better Wright’s 14.00 point total, which was earned with his trademark backhand attack.
“It’s so perfect out there – the conditions are pristine,” Wright said. “Ezekiel [Lau] is such a powerful surfer, so it was always going to be tough in these conditions. I feel like I lucked into the better waves. It was intimidating when I first arrived over here and saw the wild ocean and the forecast we had, but once I had a few surfs and got my feet in the wax, it all came back to me and I’m really loving getting out in this Western-Australian-power.”
Connor O’Leary (AUS) was the only rookie to survive elimination Round 2 after taking out Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) in Heat 10. Only O’Leary and Brazilian charger Ian Gouveia (BRA) will represent the rookie class in Round 3.
“That heat was interesting as I was on a brand new board that I had never surfed before,” O’Leary said. “The conditions have changed a lot since this morning. The wind is up and the swell has dropped a bit so I made a last minute decision to ride a different board, and luckily, it went well. I was hoping the wind would back off a bit, but it actually made it a little better as there are more sections to hit. I’m enjoying the CT. I haven’t changed my mentality at all, I just try to stay really relaxed and not get to worked up before a heat.”
2017 CT Rookie Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) was eliminated from the competition by 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) in Round 2 Heat 4. Fioravanti, who earned a fifth place finish at this event last season, put up another stunning performance with two strong 7-point rides, but it was not enough to overtake the Australian Champion. Fioravanti will leave with a 25th place finish.
“That was really fun out there and I was really enjoying myself,” Parkinson said. “Getting to ride a bigger board and really commit to turns is so nice. Leonardo [Fioravanti] is always a threat, particularly in waves like this, so I was definitely feeling the pressure. I’m in a great headspace this year and am really keen to compete, I feel like I’m a grommet again.”
“I’m not too disappointed with that loss,” Fioravanti said. “I was really happy with how I surfed and competing against a guy like Joel Parkinson is never going to be a walk in the park. Joel was lucky to be in the spot when the best waves came and I had priority during a lull in the waves, so it was out of my control. I’m feeling good and will now shift my focus to Bells.”
Rookies Joan Duru (FRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Frederico Morais (PRT) were also unable to escape elimination Round 2 after falling to Filipe Toledo (BRA), Conner Coffin (AUS) and CT veteran Adrian Buchan (AUS), respectively.
2016 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Miguel Pupo (BRA) will continue through to Round 3 after winning their match-ups today.
The day continued to see Main Break produce solid waves, with windswept five foot (1.5) conditions through the first three heats of women’s Round 1. With an opportunity to skip elimination Round 2, the women went all-out in the challenging lineup to earn their place in Round 3.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 10.53 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.00
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 14.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.84
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.40 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.00
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.86 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.83
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.60 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.84
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 12.03
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.83 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.34
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.50 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.77
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.50. Frederico Morais (PRT) 15.50
Heat 10: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.43 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.94
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.76
Heat 12: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.87 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.17
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 5: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 8: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Nat Young (USA)
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.93, Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.50, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 2.97
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.66, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.07, Coco Ho (HAW) 4.57
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.34 , Laura Macaulay (AUS) 11.34, Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.83
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Remaining Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van DIjk (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 6: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)
Congrats to our new issue cover star Conor Maguire on his WSL Big Wave Award nomination! He’s up for the Tube of the Year category. Also up for an award is Tom Lowe in the hard earned Wipeout of the Year, a category that gets crazier every year.
Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore by Flanagan
Jamie Mitchell at Nazaré by Soares
Francisco Porcella at Nazaré by Aleixo
The list of nominees for the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Awards have been announced. With $350,000 in total prize money to be allotted across the seven categories and a TAG Heuer Watch for each winner, the Big Wave Awards will honor the best performances of the year, from tubes to wipeouts. Photographs and videos of all the nominated rides can be viewed at worldsurfleague.com/bigwave.
Nominated rides come from every corner of the world, including California, Tasmania, Portugal, Hawaii, Mexico and Fiji. Shortlisted surfers range from established veterans such as the newly crowned Big Wave Tour Champions Grant Baker (ZAF) and Paige Alms (HAW) to younger rising stars like Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (BRA), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW) and Kai Lenny (HAW).
“This year’s WSL Big Wave Awards has seen a clear push from a group of younger surfers now making their mark in the big wave arena,” said Bill Sharp, the event’s director. “Diversity is probably the theme this year, with epic paddle sessions in places like California and Mexico, then tow days in Maui or Portugal to mix it up, with the young crew willing to try whatever discipline works best for the conditions at hand. Paddling is still regarded as the gold standard, but when it’s giant and windy — like it was at Jaws and Nazaré at times this winter — the limits were being pushed like never before.”
Another obvious trend from this season is the continuing emergence of Nazaré in Portugal as a big wave hotbed. Virtually unknown as a big wave break until the last six or seven years, the once-sleepy fishing village earned no less than nine nominations this year, including three contenders for the TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award and two nods for the Biggest Paddle division, more than anywhere else in the surfing world.
The WSL Big Wave Awards competition window concluded on March 21, 2017 and spanned the previous 12 months of surfing action. Every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in this period was eligible for consideration across seven categories. A panel of judges chose the five best rides in each of the categories based on photographic and video evidence.
The winners will be crowned at a gala invitation-only awards show at the Pasea Hotel in Huntington Beach, California on April 29, 2017. Viewers around the world are invited to watch the live webcast at worldsurfleague.com and live on the WSL’s Facebook page. The show will also be televised later on the CBS Sports Network in the US.
BILLABONG RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES:
Surfer prizes total $125,000 – Videographer prizes total $13,000 Ben Andrews (Morro Bay, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on November 9, 2016. (Video by Curt Myers.) Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 22, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.) Billy Kemper (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 11, 2016. (Video by Etienne Aurelius.) Jamie Mitchell (Currumbin, Queensland, Australia) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 24, 2016. (Video by WSL Video Team.) Francisco Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 28, 2017. (Video by Javier Goya.)
Dan Ryan at The Right by White
TUBE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES:
Surfer prize $10,000 – Still photography prize $5,000 Dane Gudauskas (San Clemente, California, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on May 23, 2016. (Photos by Pat Stacy and WSL Photo Team.) Conor Maguire (Bundoran, Ireland) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on March 15, 2017. (Photo by Conor Flanagan.) Bradley Norris (Perth, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Jamie Scott and Chris White.) Dan Ryan (Margaret River, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Trent Slatter and Chris White.) Shanan Worrall (Margaret River, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Jamie Scott and Chris White.)
TAG HEUER WIPEOUT OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES:
Surfer prize $5,000 – Videographer prize $2,000 Wilem Banks (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on January 26, 2017. (Video by Curt Myers.) Nathan Florence (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Maverick’s, California on January 26, 2017. (Video by Blakeney Sanford.) Danny Griffiths (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on June 16, 2016. (Video by Dave Otto.) Tom Lowe (St. Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.) Rafael Tapia (Santiago, Chile) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.)
TAG HEUER XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES:
Surfer prize $25,000 – Photographer prize $5,000 Trevor Sven Carlson (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 23, 2016.
(Photo by Vitor Estrelinha.) Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 8, 2016.
(Photos by Aaron Lynton and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Marcus Rodrigues.) Francisco Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Pedro Bala, André Botelho, Silvino Esperanca and Rafael Riancho. Video by Timelapse Media.) Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremberg, Germany) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Helio Antonio, Miguel Chaby, Rafael Riancho and Hugo Silva. Video by Timelapse Media.) Hugo Vau (Terceira, Azores, Portugal) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Mauro Correia, Pedro Cruz and João Serpa. Video by Timelapse Media.)
Chris Mashburn at Maverick’s by Quirarte
PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES:
Surfer prize $30,000 – Photographer prize $5,000 Ben Andrews (Morro Bay, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on November 9, 2016.
(Photos by Michael Andrew and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Curt Myers.) Trevor Sven Carlson (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 17, 2016.
(Photos by Rafael Elias, Vitor Estrelinha and Guilherme Soares. Video by Andreas Jansen.) Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 22, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho, Andrea Carminati, Pedro Cruz and Pedro Miranda. Video by Nuno Dias.) Christopher Mashburn (San Diego, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on January 26, 2017.
(Photos by Nikki Brooks, Silvin Morgan, Fred Pompermayer and Frank Quirarte. Video by Blakeney Sanford.) Jamie Mitchell (Currumbin, Queensland, Australia) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 20, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho and Guilherme Soares. Video by WSL Video Team.)
Justine Dupont at Nazaré by Riancho
WOMEN’S BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD NOMINEES:
First prize $15,000, $32,500 total Paige Alms (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) Justine Dupont (Lacanau, France) Keala Kennelly (Hanalei, Hawaii, USA) Nicole Pacelli (Sao Paulo, Brazil) Bianca Valenti (Mill Valley, California, USA)
The World Surf League (WSL) Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships has its finals day matchups set after a another massive day of competition that witnessed both men and women’s Quarterfinal bouts. Tupira continued to create opportunities for event spoilers to shine and that was the case once again after nearly all former World Champions were eliminated from PNG.
The upsets began early on after Crystal Walsh (HAW) dispatched 2015 WLC World Champion Rachael Tilly (USA) from competition in dramatic fashion. It was a rematch of the 2015 Jeep World Longboard Championships Final where Tilly claimed her first-ever Title, but a win here in PNG was not meant to be for the former champion.
Once tilly earned an excellent 8.27 (out of a possible 10) in response to Walsh’s lead changing 7.37, the former World Champion looked to be on her way to another Semifinal appearance. But, within the last minute, Walsh was granted one last opportunity to seize a win over Tilly and took full advantage with beautiful footwork and sweeping turns for a 9.00.
“I’ve met up with her a few times since then as well and never come out victorious so going into that heat I was a little nervous with that in the back of mind,” Walsh said. “But, I wasn’t going to let that throw my game. I could hear the commentator give the one-minute warning and I saw that wave coming, and it was a bomb. I just pulled it together and gave it all I had and it worked out — I’m so pumped.”
That trend continued into Quarterfinal, Heat 2, as Kaitlin Maguire (USA) defeated former World Champion Chelsea Williams (AUS) with a brilliant performance. Maguire trailed in need of a near-excellent score for most of the heat until a 7.17 lowered that requirement. But, the Californian wasn’t done yet and found a 5.97 in the dying minutes to overcome Williams and hold onto that lead until the final buzzer sounded.
“That was such a hard heat against Chelsea Williams, my nerves were out of control out there, but I held it together and I’m just ecstatic to be moving on,” Maguire said. “[Staying in the pocket] is just something I’ve always done, I wouldn’t say I’ve changed my style of surfing since I was young — I was taught by a lot of the guys to just stay as deep in the pocket as possible. Over time I’ve tried to put myself in the most critical section of the wave and not be out on the shoulder so that’s just something that comes natural to me these days.”
2016 WLC runner-up Chloe Calmon (BRA) put an end to the upsets occurring and locked in her Semifinal appearance on the WLC stage once again, this time over Alice Lemoigne (FRA).
Honolua Blomfield (HAW) followed suit as the higher-seeded surfer over Lindsay Steinriede (USA) with yet another 9.00 in this contest and now prepares for a big Semifinal bout with Calmon.
The men’s action got in the water right away after Blomfield’s performance and intense battles followed featuring some of the world’s best.
A world-class battle ensued to start the men’s Quarterfinals with Kai Sallas (HAW) pitted against Australian 2x World Champion Harley Ingleby (AUS). Sallas and Ingleby both got off to a quick start, though it was the Hawaiian who topped Ingleby with an 8.33. The two continued trading wave-for-wave until the final horn and it was Sallas who shut the door with a near-perfect 9.57 — earning the highest heat total of the day, a 17.90 (out of a possible 20).
“To beat a two-time World Champ, Harley’s one of my favorite surfer’s so to beat him and make it to the Semis makes it that much more special,” Sallas said. “I’ve always known I could [win a World Title], but it’s really hard when you only have one event a year. You have to be lucky on that day, that event, and that moment. I never really got along with China and a few other spots — I feel much better out here with this being my style of wave. If I walked up on any given day and saw these waves I’d be psyching to get out there. I feel like I’m surfing better than I ever have in my life.”
Antoine Delpero (FRA) added to his World Champion scalp collection with another phenomenal performance and eliminated 2x World Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER). Delpero got off to a quick start and continued to feel the flow of Tupira beneath his feet, something that earned him an 8.17 in the early goings. Clemente struggled to find a wave of excellent scoring potential until it was too late and Delpero sealed the heat with an 8.93 to end the dual.
But, it was an amazing performance from Adam Griffiths (GBR) who shut down Antoine’s brother, and event standout, Edouard Delpero (FRA). Griffiths has bettered his best result at a WLC with each passing heat after Round Three and is now into his first-ever Semifinal. A feel-good story all around, Griffiths lost his mother just three months ago and has surfed with more passion than ever here in PNG.
“I can’t believe it, to have made it this far is just an incredible feeling and I’m beyond excited to keep this momentum going,” Griffiths said. “I’ve been pretty relaxed, that heat was a bit stressful — my head was throbbing and felt like it was going to explode. Luckily I just about managed to keep it together, but now that I’ve made it this far I feel a lot of stress off me. Now it’s all about just enjoying the rest of my time here and this amazing experience.”
An all-American affair witnessed 2x World Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) display another showcase of his powerful surfing over the stylish Cole Robbins (USA). Robbins opted for a classic single-fin set up, but it wasn’t enough to top an on-fire Jensen who ran away with the heat after his 8.33 opener.
Tune in live for tomorrow’s final day of competition as the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships crowns its inaugural champions. For more information, go to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the WSL App for updates on your mobile device.
Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Semifinal Matchups: SF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) vs. Antoine Delpero (FRA) SF 2: Taylor Jensen (USA) vs. Adam Griffiths (GBR)
Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Semifinal Matchups: SF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) vs. Kaitlin Maguire (USA) SF 2: Chloe Calmon (BRA) vs. Honolua Blomfield (HAW)
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Quarterfinal Results: QF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.90 def. Harley Ingleby (AUS) 16.40 QF 2: Antoine Delpero (FRA) 17.10 def. Piccolo Clemente (PER) 14.36 QF 3: Adam Griffiths (GBR) 15.23 def. Edouard Delpero (FRA) 15.07 QF 4: Taylor Jensen (USA) 16.30 def. Cole Robbins (USA) 14.23
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