Fourteen-year-old Izzi Gomez took out the Standup World Tour‘s Huntington Beach Pro contest today for the second year in a row and in the process won her first World Title. Kai Lenny also repeated his 2013 performance for a another Huntington title and narrowed the gap on ratings leader Caio Vaz, who fell in the semi-finals.
Gomez, although all nerves on the beach today, looked strong in the water. In the semi-finals she took out mentor and fierce competitor Candice Appleby 13.77 to 9.1 in a declining but still very contestable swell.
On the other side of the draw Nicole Pacelli, who was tied with Gomez in World Tour points coming into the contest, took down young Hood River paddler Fiona Wylde in the semis to set up a clash of number ones. Although they were tied in points, Gomez had two wins (to Pacelli’s one) and would secure the title with another.
The final heat was all Gomez. Conditions had worsened with less swell and more wind. Gomez secured two decent rides with strong outside slashes and a series of fanning cutbacks for an 11.33 total. Pacelli never found the waves she needed to fight back and handed the Title to the young Gomez.
“Honestly, I was so nervous for that final and for the title,” Gomez said. “I know Nicole can pull through, so I couldn’t relax.”
As for the title, Gomez was ecstatic, barely able to speak after the final.
“I can’t even explain it right now. I’m so happy.”
With the women’s Standup World Tour Title in the hands of a new owner, the men’s race is just heating up. After barely squeaking through his round four heat with a buzzer beater yesterday, Lenny looked stronger today. In the semis, Lenny was up against an on-fire Mo Freitas who was going big on every wave. Lenny upped his game like the three-time World Champ he is and beat Freitas 16.74 to 15.3 with big blow-tails out the back and strong finishing moves in the ankle-breaking shore break.
Lenny’s eventual win looked uncertain during semi-final one, when Poenaiki Raioha and Caio Vaz put on the most entertaining show of the day. Tahitian Raioha looked loose and fast as he slid his fins across big sections on the outside, earning two nine-point rides for an 18.3 heat total. Never one to shy away from performance, Vaz absolutely went to town on two waves but couldn’t match the size and wave quality of Raioha’s top two and went down with an impressive 17.77, which would have won any other previous heat.
Lenny used his past year’s win to his advantage in the final, staying busy in the worsening conditions. He was on the biggest and best waves on offer, combining wrapping cutbacks with his strong fin slides in vertical sections to a tune of 18.43 (the highest heat total of the event—talk about peaking at the right time). Raioha, although still looking sharp, just couldn’t find the mojo or the waves he had in the semis and went down with an 11.5. Still, an impressive performance from the Tahitian youngster, who we think you’ll see on many more podiums in the future.
“I knew it would be a hard heat with Poenaiki,” Lenny said. “I just focused on the excellent scores that I knew I needed.”
He’s already looking forward to battling it out with Vaz in France.
“It takes off a lot of pressure,” he said of his win. “I have a good history in France so I’d say I have a good chance (to catch up).”
We’ll be watching.
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