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Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Ends 7th in Nazaré Challenge :: Increases Big Wave Tour Rankings Lead

December 21st, 2016 No comments
Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker from Durban drops into a giant wave on his way to seventh place in the first WSL BWT Nazaré Challenge in Portugal on Tuesday Image: WSL / Masurel

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker from Durban drops into a giant wave on his way to seventh place in the first WSL BWT Nazaré Challenge in Portugal on Tuesday Image: WSL / Masurel

– Jamie Mitchell (AUS) Claims First BWT Event Victory in 10-15 Metre Waves
– Baker Recovers from Horrendous Wipe-Out to Catch Two More Waves in Semis
– More at WorldSurfLeague.com

South Africa’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker has increased his lead on the BWT rankings after finishing seventh in the Nazare Challenge, Stop No. 3 on the 2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT) schedule which was run in enormous 10-15 metre waves and icy cross-offshore winds at Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal yesterday (Tuesday 20 Dec)

Organisers were delighted when all the conditions aligned for the first paddle-in contest at the notorious big wave break where a deep underwater canyon funnels and amplifies the gigantic swells as they approach the beach, producing surf which is more commonly ridden using jetskis to tow the surfers onto the waves.

Baker started his campaign in the Heat 2 of Round 1 and confidently caught and rode a heat-high five waves to finish in second place behind Nic Lamb (USA) as the pair advanced to the semi-finals along with third placed Pedro Calado (BRA).

In his semi, the South African fell on his first ride and then suffered an horrendous wipe-out when he was bounced off his board at the top of a huge wave and, unable to penetrate the water, skipped 13 metres down the face of the wave on his back before the lip landed on him. Recovering from the impact, Baker then spent more than 20 minutes clinging with all his strength onto a rescue sled behind a jetski as the pilot tried to get out to the lineup through countless massive waves.

In a credit to his courage, fitness and tenacity, Baker was back in position with just five minutes remaining. In a late flurry, he caught and rode two more waves to move into fourth place in the heat. Although he did not advance to the final, the extra rides ensured he finished seventh instead of 11th overall in the event, earning an extra 2000 rankings points.

With just one more event on the 2015/16 BWT schedule, at Todos Santos in Mexico, Baker is now 3,000 points ahead of his nearest rivals, Calado and reigning BWT champion Greg Long (USA), and the Durbanite is in line to add the a second BWT title to the one he clinched in the 2012/13 season.

“Yesterday was pretty unique in my surfing life. Riding a giant double-up shore break where you have to catch 2 waves in 45 minutes for a WSL BWT event was insane,” Baker said on his Facebook page. “Nazare as a wave is a phenom, as challenging and beautiful as any big wave I’ve surfed and the respect I have for Garrett McNamara (the pioneer of Nazare) and the rest of the locals is unparalleled. But do the dangers involved outweigh the rewards?”

“Those 20-30 minutes during each heat on the back of a ski, holding on with all your strength while jumping 10ft (3 metre) foamies, were some of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and something I can’t see myself repeating. Deservingly Jamie Mitchell, the maddest dog, won and hoping all the guys with injuries recover soon.”

Jamie Mitchell (AUS) dominated the event from the outset, catching several of the biggest waves that came through and winning his Round 1 and Semi-final heats before coming from behind to overtake tour veteran Carlos Burle (BRA, 49) to clinch his first BWT event title. The12,500 points Mitchell earned rocketed the former lifeguard and world renowned prone and SUP paddle racer from 13th to fifth on the latest BWT rankings.

“I instantly fell in love with this place and the people the first time I came.” said an elated Mitchell. “Today was next level, it was survival, it was heavy. I want to dedicate this to my wife and little daughter, and to my Mum and Dad, I think today is a family theme. All the big wave family behind me, around the world, it was just an incredible day.”

The final opened with an exciting first exchange between Burle and newcomer Calado (BRA), Burle taking the nod and an early lead with a clean lefthander on his backhand that earned a 6.50. Lamb followed in dramatic fashion with two of the most horrific wipe-outs seen all season and local wildcard Joao De Macedo (PRT) struggled as well, air-dropping unsuccessfully into a monstrous set wave before falling at the bottom and being engulfed in a waterfall of churning white water.

Halfway through the final, Mitchell committed to an incredibly late drop on a lefthander, grabbing the rail of his board to engage into a bottom turn before being eaten by a mountain of foam. Mitchell surfaced with his equipment and was rewarded with an excellent 8.67 for his effort, stealing the lead from Burle. The Australian quickly put a second score on the board to cement a lead that he held throughout the remainder of the heat.

De Macedo was the giant killer of this event, eliminating reigning Big Wave Tour Champion Greg Long (USA) in the first round, as well as current BWT leader Baker and Aaron Gold (HAW) in the semis. De Macedo’s amazing run culminated with a third place in the final.

A capacity crowd of big-wave enthusiasts gathered around the landmark lighthouse on the cliffs overlooking the break to watch the event unfold in the biggest waves ever paddled into in Portugal.

Highlights available at WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL App.

Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1- Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 23.94 (points out of 30)
2- Carlos Burle (BRA) 13.00
3- Joao De Macedo (PRT) 10.84
4- Pedro Calado (BRA) 9.34
5- Nic Lamb (USA) 3.00
6- Antonio Silva (PRT) 0.20

Nazaré Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Pedro Calado (BRA) 21.27, Nic Lamb (USA) 17.34, Joao De Macedo (PRT) 14.83, Grant Baker (ZAF) 10.30, Aaron Gold (HAW) 9.67, Damien Hobgood (USA) 0.20
SF 2: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 22.16, Carlos Burle (BRA) 15.33, Antonio Silva (PRT) 10.44, Trevor Carlson (HAW) 6.20, Christian Merello (CHL) 0.20, Hugo Vau (PRT) 0.20

Nazaré Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joao De Macedo (PRT) 22.13, Damien Hobgood (USA) 19.00, Aaron Gold (HAW) 11.66, Greg Long (USA) 11.29, Kealii Mamala (HAW) 11.26, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 10.67
Heat 2: Nic Lamb (USA) 14.27, Grant Baker (ZAF) 13.67, Pedro Calado (BRA) 10.49, Alex Botelho (PRT) 9.00, Andrew Cotton (GBR) 6.40, Koa Rothman (HAW) 0.00
Heat 3: Cristian Merello (CHL) 20.83, Trevor Carlson (HAW) 14.36, Antonio Silva (PRT) 12.14, Kai Lenny (HAW) 11.67, Billy Kemper (HAW) 11.39, Nic Von Rupp (PRT) 8.37
Heat 4: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 25.24, Hugo Vau (PRT) 24.93, Carlos Burle (BRA) 19.81, Will Skudin (USA) 11.73, Ramon Navarro (CHL), 11.66, Tom Butler (GBR) 3.54

WSL BWT Rankings Top Five (following Nazare Challenge):
1 – Grant Baker (ZAF) – 25,018 points
2 – Pedro Calado (BRA) – 21,943 points
3 – Greg Long (USA) – 21,921 points
4 – Carlos Burle (BRA) – 18,175 points
5 – Jamie Mitchell (AUS) – 15,690 points

About The Big Wave Tour (BWT):
The 2016/17 BWT season is divided into Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere components hosting three possible events within each. The Southern Hemisphere window ran from April 27 to August 31, 2016 with event options in Mexico, Chile and Peru. The Puerto Escondido Challenge was the only event to run and saw Baker take the win. The Northern Hemisphere window runs from October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017 with event options in Portugal, Hawaii and Mexico. The Pe’ahi Challenge was the first event to run on Friday, November 11, and saw Billy Kemper (HAW) and Paige Alms (HAW) claim victory.

ENDS

NOTE: High resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets.

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Jordy Smith Ends 2016 Ranked No. 2 in World after Quarter-Final Finish in Pipe Masters

December 20th, 2016 No comments
Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban) in action during the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii where he placed fifth and moved to No. 2 on the yearend WSL CT rankings Image: WSL / Poullenot

Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban) in action during the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii where he placed fifth and moved to No. 2 on the yearend WSL CT rankings Image: WSL / Poullenot

– Michel Bourez wins Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons
– John John Florence Wins 3rd Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title
– Rookie Kanoa Igarashi Claims Runner-Up Finish at First Pipe Masters
– More Information Available at Worldsurfleague.Com

South Africa’s Jordy Smith has ended No. 2 on the 2016 Jeep Rankings after reaching the quarter-finals of the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons, the final stop on the Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour (CT) at Pipeline in Hawaii on Monday.

Smith’s fifth place finish in the event earned the Durbanite 5,200 points, sufficient to overtake 2014 WSL champion Gabriel Medina (BRA), but still well short of John John Florence (HAW) who clinched his maiden world title at the penultimate event of the season in Portugal in October.

Smith, who was granted a wildcard into the 2016 CT season after an injury-wracked 2015, won the event at Trestles in California, finished runner-up at Bells Beach, third in Portugal and fifth at Jeffreys Bay and Pipeline to match his previous best yearend result of runner-up to Kelly Slater (USA) in 2010.

The first event victory of his career in Hawaii at the QS10,000 rated World Cup at Sunset Beach two weeks ago, combined with a 25th place in the Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa and fifth at Pipeline also earned Smith the runner-up spot behind Florence in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings.

Smith started the final day in hollow one to two metre waves at Pipeline by defeating Alex Ribeiro (BRA) in Round 3 before finishing second behind rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Round 4. After narrowly defeating Nat Young (USA) with an excellent last minute ride in Round 5, Smith posted a heat total of 15.74 (out of 20) in the quarter-final but could not overcome Igarashi’s 18.03 which included a near perfect 9.93 point score for arguably the longest tube ride of the day.

“We come here to get barreled and that’s what happened,” Smith said after his quarter-final loss. “He [Kanoa Igarashi] just got more barreled than I did. I think it just came down to that one last score. I gave him that wave on the inside that apparently just kept funneling across. The wave looked very small to me when I paddled in, but apparently he got nice and deep.”

“To be honest, all around it has been an amazing year for me. This time last year I did not expect to be here as I’d just came fresh off an injury. To finish the year in second is amazing.“

Michel Bourez (PYF) won the Billabong Pipe Masters after defeating Igarashi in the final, his best result of the season and only the second time that the Tahitian made it into the final series (last eight) this year. Victory today also marks the third CT victory of his career and earned Bourez 10,000 points which sees him finish the 2016 season in 6th place on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“I still don’t believe it,” said Bourez. “I’m just happy to be here. Last year I got injured and it was really tricky and tough for me to come back. I almost dropped off tour. I worked really hard at home and tried to stay positive the whole time. I had my baby after Portugal, so I had to travel back and forth during Europe, which was tough.”

Bourez, who previously dispatched Kolohe Andino (USA), John John Florence (HAW) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) before taking on Igarashi in the Final, can add a win at Pipeline to previous wins at Haleiwa and Sunset. Only Hawaiian legends Derek Ho and Andy Irons have also achieved this feat.

“John [Florence] is incredible,” said Bourez. “I’ve lost the Triple Crown twice because of him so that was a little payback. I knew I had to push my level even higher to beat John so that’s what I did. We had such a good day today – Backdoor was pumping and I’m stoked. This is the biggest event to win for a surfer and I did it!”

In his first Pipe Masters appearance, Igarashi has set the bar for the 2017 rookies. At 19-years-old, Igarashi is the youngest competitor on the CT and made a splash this season. Today’s runner-up finish marks Igarashi’s best result this year after a run of 13th place finishes on tour and a 9th at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Igarashi took down 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) before facing Bourez in the Final. Igarashi moves up to 20th on the rankings.

“This is a dream come true,” said Igarashi. “To be in that Final with Michel [Bourez] was really cool. It is something I will never forget. The one moment that really stands out to me is in the Semifinals with Kelly [Slater]. I kind of rubbed the heat off and he was in his rhythm. A big set came in that closed out everywhere and I thought that was going to be my last chance. Right at the end, this crazy wave out of nowhere came in. I laughed because I did not believe it. I stalled as hard as I could and once I came out I fell into shock. I am really proud of myself and cannot wait for next year.”

Slater, the most dominant surfer in this event with seven Pipe Masters titles, will end his season with a 3rd place finish. Slater’s 2016 season saw him claim victory at the Billabong Pro Tahiti and a 3rd place result at the Fiji Pro. The American superstar will start the 2017 season in 7th place on the rankings.

“It’s Kanoa’s day, I hope he wins,” Slater said. “It’s his first time in the Pipe Masters and he’s made the Final, which is pretty sick. He just won the Triple Crown for John [Florence] and put Zeke Lau (HAW) on tour. Both the Finalists have been really on fire today. I did everything I possibly could in that heat to win but the waves just came to Kanoa. I’m excited for next year. I’m feeling pretty good and I’ve been making some headway with getting myself physically into shape. I think I’ve been surfing well. It’s turning more and more into a chess game now and that’s how heats are playing out.”

2016 WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) was eliminated by Bourez in the Quarterfinals. Although he will end his season with a 5th place at Pipe, the Hawaiian has made history with his win at the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational earlier this year, clinching of the World Surfing Title in Portugal and victory at the Hawaiian Pro, the first event of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Florence will lead the elite 34 coming into the 2017 season, which will kick off on the Gold Coast in March.

Florence also capped off his year by winning the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing for the third time in his career.

“It’s been the best year of my life and thank you to everyone that has supported me,” said Florence. “I have had an amazing year and it was a little unfortunate that in that heat I made a couple of mistakes. The waves are really fun right now and I am just stoked to be home and to finish the year. It has been a long year. Now I can just go surfing and take a break for a while.”

Kolohe Andino (USA) was also edged out by eventual winner Bourez in a tough Semifinal match-up. Andino took the early lead with a 13.93 combined score, but Bourez locked in a 15.37 for the slight advantage. The American previously dispatched 2010 Pipe Master Jeremy Flores (FRA) in Round 5 and finished equal 3rd in the event.

The world’s best surfers will return in 2017 with the kick-off event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.

Highlights from the Billabong Pipe Masters available at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL App.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com

Billabong Pipe Masters Final Results:
1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.53
2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 6.17

Billabong Pipe Masters Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.37 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.93
SF 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 15.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00

Billabong Pipe Masters Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.87 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67
QF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.20 def. John John Florence (HAW) 14.00
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.24
QF 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 18.03 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.74

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 4.53
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.80 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.50
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.34 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.17
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.10 def. Nat Young (USA) 16.17

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.66, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.16, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 5.00
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 11.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.17, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.83
Heat 3: Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.24, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 2.77, Nat Young (USA) 1.57
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.34, Kelly Slater (USA) 2.24

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results:
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.34 def. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 1.93

Top 5 on the 2016 WSL Jeep Leaderboard (after Billabong Pipe Masters):
1. John John Florence (HAW) 59,850 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 46,400 pts
3. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 45,450 pts
4. Kolohe Andino (USA) 44,150 pts
5. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 39,500 pts

ENDS

NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Ready for Nazaré Big Wave Challenge Starting Tuesday in Portugal

December 19th, 2016 No comments
WSL XXL contender Garrett McNamara in action at Nazare in 2015  Image: Bruno Aleixo

WSL XXL contender Garrett McNamara in action at Nazare in 2015 Image: Bruno Aleixo

– South African Mentally & Physically Prepared to Defend BWT Rankings Lead
– More at WorldSurfLeague.com

South African big wave charger Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker is mentally and physically prepared for the Nazaré Challenge, Stop No. 3 on the 2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT) schedule which has been given the Green Light to start in Portugal on Tuesday 20 December.

Baker has been practising in the Northern Hemisphere since October and is full of confidence after placing third in the recent Pe’ahi Challenge in Hawaii and retaining his BWT rankings lead.

“I’m feeling fit and healthy as I’ve been in California and Hawaii for two months now surfing most of the big swells and this has helped me be prepared mentally and physically for the event,” Baker explained.

“I’ve been here (Nazaré) for a few days warming up and the wave is very similar to beach breaks I’ve surfed on the West coast of Africa and Ocean Beach in San Francisco, so I feel comfortable. Saying that, it looks like the event will run in larger conditions so I’m not to sure what to expect, but I’m confident in my boards which are specifically designed for Nazare by Pukas Surf here in Europe.

“Huge thanks to my wife Kate and daughter Billi for their support, to my family and friends for giving me the confidence to move forward with my dreams and a special shout out to my friend and business partner Reg McDonald, as I couldn’t be doing this without his great work.”

With a series of major swells heading towards the region, all eyes will be on the world’s best big wave surfers as they take on the waves of Praia do Norte (North Beach), a break notorious for its powerful waves and dangerous white water speeds.

“We are excited to call the inaugural Nazaré Challenge on,” said Peter Mel, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. “We have been closely tracking the WNW North Atlantic swell and see that everything should align for a Tuesday start. The waves are projected to be 11-15 metre (35-45-foot-plus) with favourable winds. We are all eager to see how the world’s best big wave surfers push the boundaries with the debut of this event.”

The highly-anticipated Nazaré Challenge is an all-new event on the WSL Big Wave Tour and will be the first paddle-in event to take place at the venue that put Portugal on the map as a big wave haven. The event will be contested by 24 of the best big wave surfers, led by BWT ratings leader Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF), 2015/16 BWT Champion Greg Long (USA), as well as regional event wildcards Alex Botelho (PRT) and Andrew Cotton (GBR).

Surfline, official forecaster for the WSL, are calling for:

Significant storm activity in the North Atlantic in the next few days will deliver a series of XL to possibly XXL swells for Nazaré for most of the week. The first of these swells, which will arrive on Tuesday, is currently expected to produce waves of 10-13 metre (30-40’) on the face, with the largest sets potentially hitting 15 metres (50’) if the storm behaves as forecast in the next couple days. A similar size swell looks possible for Thursday before fading Friday. Local wind will be variable for much of next week, although does look favourable Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and potentially all of Thursday and Friday.

While the competition is scheduled to start early in the morning Portugal time on Tuesday, December 20, organizers are also keeping the option open of competition days on Wednesday, December 21 and Thursday, December 22, should the local weather conditions call for it.

The total prize purse for the Nazaré Challenge is $100,000 (approx. R1.35 million).

For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com.

Nazaré Challenge Competitors:
Greg Long (USA)
Billy Kemper (HAW)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Cristian Merello (CHL)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Trevor Carlson (HAW)
Koa Rothman (HAW)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Kai Lenny (HAW)
Pedro Calado (BRA)
Will Skudin (USA)
Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Alex Botelho (PRT)
Hugo Vau (PRT)
Joao de Macedo (PRT)
Antonio Silva (PRT)
Andrew Cotton (GBR)
Tom Butler (GBR)

About The Big Wave Tour (BWT):
The 2016/17 BWT season is divided into Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere components hosting three possible events within each. The Southern Hemisphere window ran from April 27 to August 31, 2016 with event options in Mexico, Chile and Peru. The Puerto Escondido Challenge was the only event to run and saw Baker take the win. The Northern Hemisphere window runs from October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017 with event options in Portugal, Hawaii and Mexico. The Pe’ahi Challenge was the first event to run on Friday, November 11, and saw Billy Kemper (HAW) and Paige Alms (HAW) claim victory.

ENDS

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Steven Sawyer Takes Runner-Up Spot as Phil Rajzman Wins Jeep World Longboard Title in China

December 11th, 2016 No comments
Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) hangs 10 on his way to second place in the Jeep World Longboard Championships in Hainan, China on Sunday.  Image: WSL / Hain

Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) hangs 10 on his way to second place in the Jeep World Longboard Championships in Hainan, China on Sunday.  Image: WSL / Hain

– SA’s Matthew Moir Finishes 9th
– Tory Gilkerson (USA) Wins Women’s World Longboard Title
– More at WorldSurfLeague.Com & the WSL App

Riyue Bay, Wanning/China (Sunday, December 1, 2016) – South Africa’s Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) finished runner-up to Brazilian Phil Rajzman in the final of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship presented by Wanning at Riyue Bay on the Island Of Hainan in China on Sunday.

Sawyer started the final day of competition by defeating Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) and Cole Robbins (USA) in Round 4, before overcoming the challenges of former world champion Harley Ingleby (AUS) in the quarters and Sphaier again in the semis in the inconsistent 1 – 1.2 metre waves.

Rajzman got off to a fast start in the final, posting a championship winning total of 17.34 on his first two rides. Sawyer opened his account with an excellent 8.50 for a series of critical nose rides and sweeping cutbacks, but was left chasing a score of 8.85 for the remainder of the 30 minute encounter.

The South African found some long set waves under priority but couldn’t quite post the excellent score he needed, coming closest with a 7.93 on his penultimate ride. After finishing in last place in the 2015 event, to finish second in the world this year is as good as a win for Sawyer.

“I am so stoked, I just can’t believe it,” Sawyer said. “There were a few things I could have done better in that heat to win but I’m just as happy with second as I would have been winning the thing. Every heat I made was just a bonus. When I made it to the fourth round I was ecstatic. Making it to the final I feel like I can go home and be proud forever.”

The Jeffreys Bay resident is just as dynamic on a shortboard as he is on a longboard, winning a wildcard into the J-Bay Open Championship Tour event in his home town in July. He earned US $6 000 (approx. R81 000) for his runner-up spot in China and will be seeded second at next year’s world longboard champs.

Rajzman surfed a solid event but left his best performance till last, displaying huge commitment to nose rides and smooth flowing power turns. He made history in 2007 by becoming the first Brazilian World Longboard Champion and nine years later he has done it again.

“This does not feel real,” Rajzman said. “I feel like it won’t hit me properly for a few days. This event is so amazing because us Longboarders only catch up a few times a year and we are like a big family. Coming and seeing everyone is great and then to win and have all of this support is just unbelievable. I am just so happy.”

“In 2007 I was young and didn’t work too hard for it and didn’t think too much about winning the Title. This one is different – it’s nine years later and I have been working so hard to keep surfing at a high level. All of the work has paid off and it is so important to me, this is the greatest win of all.”

Sphaier and two-time World Longboard Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) finished in equal third in the world, while Matthew Moir was the next highest placed South African. A two-time ISA world longboard champion, Moir finished equal ninth overall in China after placing third in his Round 4 heat behind defending 2015 world champ Piccolo Clemente (PER) and Ingleby.

Tory Gilkerson (USA) clinched the Jeep Women’s World Longboard title on Saturday, defeating Brazilian prodigy Chloe Calmon in the final. South Africa’s Tarryn King (Muizenberg) finished 13th overall.

For more information on the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championships hosted by Wanning Province with support from Corona head to www.worldsurfleague.com or the WSL App

ENDS

NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Steven Sawyer & Matthew Moir into Round 4 of Jeep World Longboard Surfing Champs in China

December 8th, 2016 No comments
Thomas King (Cape Town) hangs five during his Round 3 heat at the Jeep World Longboard Championships in Hainan, China today. Image: WSL / Hain

Thomas King (Cape Town) hangs five during his Round 3 heat at the Jeep World Longboard Championships in Hainan, China today. Image: WSL / Hain

– SA’s Grant Beck, Thomas King & Tarryn King Eliminated
– More at WorldSurfLeague.Com & the WSL App

Riyue Bay, Wanning/CHN (Thursday, December 8, 2016) – South Africans Steven Sawyer and Matthew Moir advanced to Round 4 of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship presented by Wanning as Riyue Bay on the Island Of Hainan in China continued to serve up pumping one metre waves for the fourth straight day.

Sawyer, a rank-outsider in the event after finishing 25th last year, upset former two-time world title-holder Taylor Jensen (USA) in his opening heat on Tuesday and continued his giant-killing act by defeating fifth seed Jeferson Silva (BRA) today to move into the last 12 of the men’s event.

The silky smooth goofy-footer from Jeffreys Bay arrived at the venue a fortnight ago and made good use of his practice at the venue as he rode the nose and switch turned his way to victory in both heats.

“I’m having the time of my life,” Sawyer said. “I’ve been here for two weeks and have been scoring amazing waves the whole time. My focus is a more on single fin, soulful traditional longboarding, so to drop such high scores with this level of competition is a great feeling.”

Moir, a former two-time ISA world longboard champion with a best finish of 5th in the 2013 WSL world longboard champs, struggled to find good waves in Round 1. But bounced back with solid win over Kaniela Stewart (HAW) in Round 2 yesterday and went on to defeat good friend Adam Griffiths (GBR) today to join Sawyer in the last 12.

Thomas King traveled to China to support his wife Tarryn, who had qualified to represent WSL Africa in the women’s event. However, a late withdrawal from the men’s event saw the Capetonian awarded a wildcard and, like Sawyer, he caused a major upset in Round 1 by relegating Silva to Round 2.

Despite surfing well today, King was no match for top seed and reigning world champ Piccolo Clemente (PER) who posted a perfect 10 point ride and added a near-perfect 9.80 to oust the South Africa. King pocketed US $1 300 (approx. R17 500) for his equal 13th place finish.

Grant Beck of Port Elizabeth and Tarryn King were both eliminated in their respective men’s and women’s Round 2 encounters.

The 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championships hosted by Wanning Province with support from Corona waiting period runs from Dec 4-13 and will be broadcast live at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App from approximately 2am SA time daily.

ENDS

NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

Jordy Smith Wins Vans World Cup of Surfing in Hawaii

December 5th, 2016 No comments
Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban) performs a trademark hack at Sunset Beach in Hawaii on his way to victory in the final of the Vans World Cup Image: WSL / Cestari

Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban) performs a trademark hack at Sunset Beach in Hawaii on his way to victory in the final of the Vans World Cup Image: WSL / Cestari

– Durbanite Clinches First Event Victory in Hawaii
– Now No. 3 on Triple Crown Rankings
– More at WorldSurfLeague.Com

Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban), won the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach to claim his first victory in Hawaiian waves on Sunday. The 28-year-old Durbanite triumphed in a stacked final that included Frederico Morais (PRT), Torrey Meister (HAW) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA).

“Unbelievable, can’t believe it,” said Smith. “I feel like this event has eluded me in the past. I didn’t have any expectations coming in this year, I think that was the difference. I just kind of went out there with an open mind. Thanks to everyone who supported me.”

The final Qualifying Series (QS) of the year and one of only five 10,000 rated events in 2016, the Vans World Cup marks Smith’s second competitive victory this year, his first a Championship Tour (CT) win at the Hurley Pro at Trestles in September. But despite reaching the final at Sunset twice in the past, a win in Hawaii has eluded him since he began competing professionally.

“Early in my career I made a couple finals out here, I really had something going with the place,” continued Smith. “I don’t know, it’s been like six or seven years where I just couldn’t do a thing right. And then, everything just came together this year so I’m just really happy.”

The victory sees Smith, ranked No. 3 on the CT, leapfrog into third place on the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing rankings going into the final event at Pipeline which starts on Thursday. The South African is 5,900 points behind Morais, who finished second in both the first event at Haleiwa and at Sunset, and just 200 points behind recently crowned 2016 WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) who won at Haleiwa.

Smith, who was crowned the Triple Crown ‘Rookie of the Year’ in back in 2009, says he has been ‘camping out’ at Pipeline this year in a determined effort to improve on his mediocre previous results in the season-ending CT event. He is bidding to become the first South African man to clinch the Triple Crown, an accolade second only to a World Title in prestige. Heather Clark (ZAF, Port Shepstone) is the only previous SA winner, clinching the Women’s Triple Crown title in 2000.

Gudauskas opened the final at Sunset with two waves before Smith answered back with a super smooth 6.33 on an open face and demonstrated his tactful rail game and signature carves. Morais dropped the first score of significance to take the lead, an 8.23 for a searing carve and a layback snap on the inside section. Meister, the most inform Hawaiian in the event, went vertical on his first wave for a 4.77, but drama unfolded after Jordy secured an 8.73 – the highest single ride score of the 35 minute encounter – to take a lead that his opponents ultimately could not match.

“He always fits this wave really well,” Meister said of Smith after the awards ceremony. “He’s one of the best guys out here. Just his hacks, he’s got probably the best hack in the business. He really suits this wave and he’s really powerful.”

With a place among the world’s top 34 ranked surfers on the 2017 Championship Tour on the line, along with the several of the current top 34 in action, there was drama in virtually every heat on the final day.

Jadson Andre (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS) and secured eighth and 10th positions on the year-end QS rankings, and re-qualified for another season the CT when they reached the semi-finals. Morais steadily pacing himself throughout the event, made few mistakes and jumped up to the No. 3 slot after his runner up finish.

Athletes listed in order of 1st through 10th on the QS (* indicates Rookie CT campaign): *Connor O’Leary (AUS), *Ethan Ewing (AUS), *Frederico Morais (PRT), Joan Duru (FRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), *Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), *Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS). Ethan Ewing (AUS) secured the coveted Vans Triple Crown Rookie Award.

Michael February (ZAF, Cape Town), the only other South African in the Vans World Cup, posted his first heat win at Sunset Beach last Wednesday. The lanky Capetonian advanced to Round 3 after taking the runner-up spot in his next heat and finished 33rd overall. He earned 1,100 points, his second best haul of the season, to end the year ranked No. 53 and guaranteed of a slot in all the major 6,000 and 10,000 rated QS events next year.

See full results, images, video footage of every wave ridden during the Vans World Cup at www.WorldSurfLeague.com

The eyes of the surfing world will now be firmly fixed on Pipeline, a mile to the West of Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, where the Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons – the final event of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour and last gem of the Vans Triple Crown – takes place from December 8 – 20.

RESULTS
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th

Final
1st – Jordy Smith (ZAF), 10000 points
2nd – Frederico Morais (PRT), 8000 points
3rd – Torrey Meister (HAW), 6700 points
4th – Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 6300 points

Semifinals, 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 5th place, 4th = 7th place
SF1: Frederico Morais (PRT), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
SF2: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Torrey Meister (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA)

Quarterfinals, 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 9th place, 4th = 13th place
QF1: Frederico Morais (PRT), Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Deivid Silva (BRA), Koa Smith (HAW)
QF2: Jack Freestone (AUS), Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Billy Kemper (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
QF3: Torrey Meister (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Ian Crane (USA)
QF4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Jadson Andre (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS)

Round of 32 – 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 17th place, 4th = 25th place
H1: Deivid Silva (BRA), Jack Freestone (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
H2: Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZAL), Adriano De Souza (BRA)
H3: Billy Kemper (HAW), Frederico Morais (PRT), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS)
H4: Tanner Gudauskas (USA), Koa Smith (HAW), John John Florence, Marc Lacomare (FRA)
H5: Torrey Meister (HAW), Ethan Ewing (USA), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA)
H6: Kelly Slater (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA), O’Neill Massin (PFY), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
H7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Ian Crane (USA), Adam Melling (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
H8: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Eli Olson

ENDS

NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage are available on request for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm