All Photos: Gran Canaria Pro-Am / APP World Tour
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 16th December 2019: The morning dawned with offshore winds and solid surf, ideal for a FInals Day, as the Men's World Title for 2019 was to be decided in epic conditions along with both Women's and Men's Event Titles.
With the scenarios laid out, the young Tahitian talent, Poenaiki Raioha put his head down with his sights set on the Final, an achievement that would secure him the 2019 World Title. However, it was never going to be an easy task with the level of talent these days on the APP World Tour.
It all started with a quarter final heat against the impressive new talent on Tour from the Basque Country,Clement Roseyro. Poenaiki's devastating assault on the line up secured his place in the semi finals, one step closer to the Title.
In the next quarter final heat, 2018 World Champion and 2019 Title Contender went down against the on form Wellington Reis setting up the most anticipated semi final match up of the event, but eliminating one of the two remaining Contenders that could stand in Poenaiki's way.
Also advancing to the Semis was the other Title Contender, the Brazilian high flyer, Luiz Diniz and the 2012 World Champion Leco Salazar: out of 4 athletes in the semis, 3 were Brazilian! This also meant that the Title Race was not over yet, although Luiz Diniz would have to win the event in order to secure the World Title and Poenaiki would have to get knocked out in the semis.
In one of the most competitive heats ever witnessed on the APP World Tour that saw Poenaiki and Wellington Reis go blow for blow on the epic right hand point break that is El Lloret, Poenaiki was unable to get past the on form Brazilian, despite having a 9.4 in his score line: the performance was that mindblowing, and the result meant that the Title Race would go on, leaving Poenaiki in the unenviable position of waiting to see what happened!
Fortunately for the young Tahitian, he wasn't going to have to wait long, as a late surge from the impressively composed 2012 World Champion Leco Salazar was enough to secure his berth in the Final, knocking out fellow patriot, the final Contender in Poenaiki's way, Luiz Diniz.
And with that, Poenaiki Raioha was able to clinch the well deserved APP World Title in 2019, something that he has been so close to achieving for several years now, but in 2019, the stars have aligned and Poenaiki is sitting on top of the World.
Poenaiki's first showing on the World Tour was 9 years ago, at just 13 years old at the legendary Sapinus Pro. At 14, he reached the semi finals, capturing the World's attention and putting the World's best on notice that something big was about to happen in the World of Stand Up Paddlesurfing.
Fast forward to 2019, and Poenaiki has realized his dream of overcoming the best of the best to become World Champion: an incredible achievement and a testament of what is to come here on the APP World Tour, as the performance level continues to sky rocket year over year.
Here are the Top 5 Overall on the APP World Tour at the end of thew 2019 season:
Poenaiki Raioha (Tahiti)
Wellington Reis (Brazil)
Leco Salazar (Brazil)
Luiz Diniz (Brazil)
Sean Poynter (USA)