Competitors on the Standup World Tour experienced clean 4- to 5-foot surf at Honoli’i on Monday, providing ideal conditions for the start of the prestigious Main Event of the Hawaii Island Finals. With 32 of the best standup paddlers in the world now battling it out for the event title and to improve on their overall standings on the Tour, the pressure is on to make the most of the pristine conditions at Honoli’i.
Kai Lenny once again asserts his presence on the Tour in the first few rounds of competition, convincingly winning his heat amidst fierce competition from the Tahitians and Brazilians. He continues to make it clear that securing the World Title is not enough for this season, as he attempts to finish on a high on the Big Island and relive his 2010 glory.
After an impressive win in Brazil, Leco Salazar put on a sick show of performance surfing, producing fast and powerful turns. Salazar is looking dangerous in the field of competitors and is aiming to secure another event win before the 2011 season is over.
The showman, Zane Schweitzer, is also demonstrating great form in Honoli’i with the single highest wave score of the day. Schweitzer impressed judges with his skills beginning with a short nose-ride before laying into a power turn and round housing back into the power zone. The young Mauian set himself up for a sweet air, before finishing the ride with a nice 360.
Robin Johnston opened his heat with a great performance against formidable opponents and the standout competitor from yesterday, Bullet Obra. Unfortunately, in Round 3, Johnston failed to find the waves needed to advance and secure his 2011 world ranking. Despite a disappointing finish, Johnston has had a great year on the tour and put on quite a display of performance surfing at each of the World Tour stops.
Starting off great in the first heat, Huntington Beach winner and third-ranked Antoine Delpero must now pass through the repechage in order to advance to Round 3 after receiving an interference call. However, the Frenchman wastes no time in stepping up his game to qualify for the event title in Honoli’i.
Big Island standout, Bullet Obra, once again proves his merit in the early rounds, advancing through to the Quarterfinals and turning heads in the process. There is no doubt that this young Big Island native will be a real threat at Honoli’i in the final rounds of competition.
The Brazilian talent and performance on Tour is only intensifying. Beyond Salazar’s phenomenal performance, Trials Finalist Caio Vaz makes it into one of the Final 16 spots, along with his brother Ian, Semifinalist at the last Tour stop in Brazil. Also advancing further after a solid performance is fellow Brazilian, Luis Saraiva, who demonstrated that he is a serious force the competition should look out for.
Ikaika Kalama makes it back to his home on the Big Island to put on a stellar performance in Round 1, narrowly missing out on advancing, while local wildcard, Kainoa Hauanio, steps up to the challenge, dominating his heats and proceeding to the Quarterfinals.
The number of U18’s advancing through to the Quarters is unbelievable. With the incredible pool of talent and masterful performances, the young athletes are an impressive sight to be seen. Standouts that advanced through to the Quarters include Noah Yap, Kody Kerbox, Noa Ginella, Ian and Caio Vaz and Mo Freitas.
Confirming that Honoli’i is not exclusively the domain of the young guns, Aaron Napoleon solidifies his strong presence on the Standup World Tour, while also demonstrating why he is so universally respected for his surfing skills. Napoleon and good friend, Arsene Harehoe (Tahiti) continue to battle during the final stop of the 2011 Standup World Tour.
Still to come at the Hawaii Island Finals are the Quarterfinals through Finals of the Main Event, as well as the Women’s Exhibition and the Na Kama Kai Youth Challenge. -Courtesy of the Standup World Tour