Sean Poynter and Iballa Moreno claimed the 2018 APP SUP Surfing World Titles this past weekend during perfect conditions in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
With the contest moving to El Lloret for the final day of competition, the world’s best SUP surfers were greeted with overhead rights, perfect offshore winds, and beautiful sunny skies — all the necessary ingredients for what would become an instant classic.
The day began with some thrilling action in the quarterfinal rounds, most notably a matchup between Zane Schweitzer and Poenaiki Raioha, both of whom came into the contest in the championship hunt. Both surfers performed at a top level and caught several impressive rides, but the Tahitian was able to knock off Schweitzer with a pair of scores in the excellent range. And with Poynter advancing past Brazilian Luis Diniz in his quarterfinal heat, the American would just need to advance into the final to claim the title.
The man standing in Poynter’s way would be Julien Bouyer, an underdog who was putting in the performance of a lifetime to that point. Despite the young Frenchman putting forth a valiant effort, Poynter’s precision surfing and aggressive maneuvers proved too much for Bouyer. The semifinal victory not only secured Poynter a spot in the finals, but more importantly, it meant that he had officially claimed the 2018 World Title.
On the Women’s side of the contest, Canary Island native Iballa Moreno came into the contest looking to secure a World Title in front of her friends and family. With a little help from her good friend, Australian Shakira Westdorp, she would do just that.
Westdorp was lined up again Moreno’s top championship rival, Nicole Pacelli, in the quarterfinal round. With a chance to essentially give her friend the title by eliminating Pacelli, Westerdorp surfed a near perfect heat and was able to topple the talented Brazilian. With Moreno having already defeated Alazne Alonso in her quarterfinal, the 2018 World Title officially belonged to the hometown hero.
With both the Men’s and Women’s championships already decided, the attention shifted to who would claim victory in the contest.
For the Women, it was a marquee match-up of arguably the sport’s top two ladies in the Finals: newly crowned World Champ Iballa Moreno and three-time World Champ Izzi Gomez. With pumping waves providing optimal conditions, the ladies traded both top scores and the lead on multiple occasions. But as the heat was in its closing stages, Gomez proved why she was a three-time champ by earning a near-perfect score – a 9.5 – to secure the contest win.
Meanwhile, the Men’s Final was showdown between the top two SUP surfers in the world rankings, Poanaiki Raioha and Sean Poynter. Just like the Women’s Final, this final was an absolute thriller with each surfer putting on a clinic and pushing the sport to new limits. The duo caught several top scoring rides and once the horn sounded, the result could have easily gone either way. But a winner had to be determined and those honors went to Raioha, who earned a combined score of 17.57, just above Poynter’s 17.4.
The contest was undoubtedly an impressive display of SUP surfing and set the tone for next year when the APP SUP Surfing World Tour will feature four stops – including the return of the Sunset Beach Pro. In the meantime, check out the highlights above from this thrilling day of competition in Gran Canaria.