Photos, recap and results from Finals Day of the 2017 APP World Tour season opener
All photos: Brian Bielmann
We’re running out of sensational adjectives to describe the Sunset Beach Pro, so how’s about we just stick to the facts.
It’s the most respected title of any single event on the newly formed APP World Tour. It’s the pinnacle proving ground for the world’s best paddle surfers. It sets the bar of progress for the year of competition to come, and after witnessing the performance this year, we’re here to tell you: the bar has never been so high.
Men’s Quarter Finals
Thursday brought the goods as we edged near the last day of the two-week waiting period, and the first heat of the Men’s Quarter Finals was in the water by 8:30am HST with solid swell and favorable conditions. Last year’s champ Caio Vaz surfed eagerly for a resounding victory in the first heat, and advanced to the Semis with the second highest heat-total of the round, a 14.7 behind Kai Lenny’s 17 (see also: freakish talent). Based on the dedication and vigor of their performances, our Finals predictions going into the Semis included Lenny, Vaz and Poenaiki Raioha, with Giorgio Gomez, Mo Freitas, Bernd Roediger and the Australian Keahi de Aboitiz all contestable wildcards. These guys were going all-in.
Finals Day Highlights
Men’s Semi Finals
Heat One of the Men’s Semis opened with an unlikely interference call for Vaz, dampening his chances at a second consecutive Sunset Beach Pro title. By the time Gio Gomez and Bernd Roediger took that heat, our focus was already on Heat Two, which featured Poenaiki Raioha, Mo Freitas, Kai Lenny and James Casey. If you’re a fan of professional standup paddle surfing, there’s no better show than seeing these guys surf Sunset. Lenny and Freitas prevailed over the Tahitian and the Australian, and in the end our predictions were only a quarter right with Gomez, Roediger, Freitas and Lenny advancing to the Finals. This kind of contention is why we lose money in Fantasy Surfer.
The men paused before their Final heat to watch the women, who were there to claim their right to the Tour’s first year of women’s competition at the Sunset Beach Pro. And claim it they did. Three-time SUP surfing world champion Izzi Gomez took on former world champ Nicole Pacelli and current racing world champ Fiona Wylde, as well as Australia’s perpetual title-threat, Shakira Westdorp. Need we muse, “hotly contested?” The gals threw down like Tyson in the 12th round, and when the dust finally settled, Gomez claimed her fifth victory at the North Shore stop on the Women’s World Tour.
Did we mention that Kai Lenny is freakishly talented? Well, it can’t really be said enough, though actually at this point in his decorated career, it’s hardly even worth calling out. Lenny--a perpetual master of the Sunset Beach Pro--was in true form for the Men’s Final, and stole the show early with the only perfect 10 of the competition. He may have been a little over-scored, but did you see those turns?
Kai Lenny’s Perfect 10
Lenny went on to combo the field with an 18.5, the highest scoring heat-total of the entire contest, leaving Roediger, Gomez and Freitas needing two rides in the excellent range to take the title. That never happened, and Lenny won at Sunset yet again.
The Tour heads to Maui next for the second of eight stops on the 2017 APP World Tour, a newly formed reincarnation of the Standup World Tour and Standup World Series. We expect it’ll be a great year of standup paddling competition, and we’ll be watching closely. Stay tuned to SUPthemag.com for all the updates. --MM