Sean Poynter took advantage of his hot hand. His backhand. Riding lefts like a seasoned vet, the regular-footer captured the Sapinus Pro Tahiti presented by Air Tahiti Nui this weekend. The win was his first on the Standup World Tour and puts him comfortably on top of the overall standings after three events.
“It was 6-8-foot surf, maybe some 10-foot faces coming through and clean conditions,” says the Florida native who now lives in San Diego. “Really rippable surf. Unlike last year, it wasn’t massive so the barrels weren’t there too much. But there were just walls that offered up some really great maneuver surfing. When the final came around though, the wind fully went onshore about 13knots and it made it pretty difficult. I managed to find a couple wide ones and link up a couple turns.”
Poynter was able to link radical snaps and tail drift turns into roundhouse cutbacks all weekend, winning every heat on his way to the Finals.
He overtakes two-time World Champion Kai Lenny. “Holding the position. That’s what I plan on doing. We have Brazil, Huntington, and a final destination that’s yet to be revealed.I think coming into the second half of the year I feel most comfortable with the waves we’re up against as it’s waves like I grew up in Fla. Huntington and Brazil at least, so I like the idea of the second half for sure. It will be performance surfing.”
While the legends of the sport in Tahiti–such as Arsene Harehoe and Vetea ‘Poto’ David–are still very much the leading lights, a wealth of young talent is emerging here, in particular, Poenaiki Raioha.
At just 15 years old, Poenaiki demonstrated that his wildcard award was not only merited, but essential, as he stormed through the rounds to reach the final and finish in an incredible 2nd place behind the Champion, Sean Poynter.
As the sport and the Tour progress, Tahiti remains at the heart of it all and its athletes presence on Tour is strong: Arsene Harehoe’s solid showing left him in 6th place overall.
Justin Holland, having just signed to Starboard and with a quiver of new boards, had an incredible run at the Sapinus Pro presented by Air Tahiti Nui, winning all his heats on the way to the Final and showcasing that he’s truly a name to watch in the year’s second half. His no-holds-barred approach to surfing impressed the judges and crowds alike.
Robin Johnston (Mistral) found his form here in Tahiti to put on an impressive display of fluid, radical surfing at Sapinus, connecting big turns in the unpredictable surf to secure his well deserved berth in the Final.
His 4th place in Tahiti moves him up the rankings to third behind Two-timw World Champion Kai Lenny, and puts him thoroughly in contention for the Title in 2012. As the sole representative for Hawaii in the Final, Robin flew the flag with an incredible performance throughout the event.
Despite putting on a solid performance, Kai Lenny failed to find the right waves and made some uncharacteristic mistakes leading to his exit in the quarterfinals.
Lenny finished ninth for the second straight event (France), opening himself up to the contenders on his heels. It’ll be interesting to see if Lenny comes out on fire in the next event, eager to make up for two sub-par finishes. The World Champ is currently ranked second overall as he prepares for Brazil. —The Standup World Tour contributed to this report
1.Sean Poynter (US) – Starboard
2. Kai Lenny (HI) – Naish
3. Robin Johnston (HI) – Mistral
4. Leco Salazar (BRA)
5. Caio Vaz (BRA) – Art in Surf
6. Benoit Carpentier (FR) – Naish
7. Arsene Harehoe (PYF) – Rogue (6th=)
8. Peyo Lizarazu (FR)
9. Justin Holland (AUS) – Starboard (8th=)
10. Tama Audibert (PYF) – Starboard
11. Dave Muir (AUS) – Starboard
12. Zane Schweitzer (HI) – Starboard