Recap of Finals Day through the eyes of Stand Up Journal's Evelyn O'Doherty
It’s a wrap. The APP World Tour has crowned a new 2019 Women’s World champion in Izzi Gomez and the Men’s title race is blown wide open by the dramatic upsets that happened here in Barbados. Gran Canaria will see a full scale competition for the women’s event title run and the Men’s overall World Title Championship. The Barbados Pro-AM becomes a stop to remember.
The bajan welcome has been total and, what’s better, is the respect for APP athletes and the sport of stand up paddle surfing that unfolded among surfers, local business leaders and the general public here in Barbados. Every stop on the APP World Surfing Tour opens the door wider into acceptance and respect in the world of surfing.
“I didn’t know these athletes could rip like that,” said more than one local upon witnessing the performances of APP World Tour athletes at the legendary surf break of Soup Bowl here on the eastern coast in Bathsheba. Sean Poynter, Izzi Gomez, Poenaiki Raioha and the full range of APP talent continue to showcase the level of performance - which seems to grow every year through heated competitions like this and the recent designs in new equipment - on a wider world stage than ever before. Stand up paddle surfing is here to stay.
Tristan Boxford, CEO and visionary to the APP World Tour, works relentlessly to offer these athletes a professional competition platform with multiple tour stops around the world, offering everything from world class waves to full media coverage, a global judging panel and support. The Barbados ProAm becomes a part of that tight circuit after the resounding success of this past week.
The Final Rounds of the competition in Bathsheba offered more than its fair share of excitement. Dramatic upsets to the overall standings, defeats of frontrunners on this year’s tour and incredible performances throughout created an electricity in the air that was felt by everyone.
In the Men’s Quarter Finals, we saw Tahitian Poenaiki Raioha defeat the deep talent of Frenchman Benoit Carpentier (16.16 /12.44). Benoit’s flow, style and power is an exceptional addition to this world tour and our expectation is that we will see his driving talent again take center stage in El Loret, Gran Canaria A fiery heat between Brazilian Leco Salazar and Hawaiian Bernd Roediger advanced the Brazilian, but not before Roediger put his original stamp on the competition with clean, round house snaps off the lip, tail drags and effortless style (16.06 / 12.44).
Sean Poynter and Matheus Salazar went head-to-head in a fantastic display of showmanship, trading waves and scores to a wave-on-wave finish putting Poynter on top and advancing to the Semis (16.77 /10.56). Finally, in another grand upset, Tamil Martino from Spain upset Brazilian Wellington Reis’ run for the Title. The day before, Wellington knocked out of the competition 2019 APP rankings leader Luiz Diniz in an incredible heat that put the world on notice about Wellington’s run for the title. Heartbreakingly, in his Men’s Quarter Final heat,
Wellington succumbed to the incredible display of control, fire and talent of Martino who advanced to the Semi Final round (14 /12.06).
In the Semi’s, the world watched as Leco Salazar, surfing with the power and style for which this wickedly talented former world champ is known, overcame the power and widely renowned talents of world title rankings leader Poenaiki Raioha. Leco’s all-out commitment to every wave, dropping in deep to provide amplitude, snapping powerful carves off the lip, showcasing his fins to water photographer Brian Beilmann and linking maneuvers in a daring display of talent and complete dedication overcame Poenaik andi brought spectators together to cheer the Brazilian to the beach after an enormous heat (16.67 /13.96).
Poynter went to battle against an equally focused Tamil Martino in his semi-final heat. Both men provided formidable competition and smart surfing in the water, choosing Soup Bowl’s clean, outside waves with precision and executing knowledge, power and skill to every turn, slash and cutback throughout the heat. Martino’s near perfect barrel brought a roar from the crowd, but Poynter’s technically excellent style was rewarded by the judges to bring him out on top and advancing to the Finals against Salazar (16.7 /14.9).
The Men’s Final between Brazil’s Leco Salazar and Florida-born Sean Poynter was a match to remember. Leco’s blazing trail towards the podium was pitted against Poynter’s sharp style in a focused heat. Both men gunning for the win, holding nothing back and fierce in their full commitment to victory. Leco continued to light up every wave with the relentless fire of the Brazilian storm created on this stop of the APP World Tour. Poynter answered, as ever, with his flawless style and fierce focus to every movement on the wave. Salazar moved ahead, the crowd held its breath.
Poynter found the combination of moves he was looking for to put himself back on top... and held it there.
As the announcer counted down the finish, the cheers and catcalls on the beach were for both competitors to put on such a professional show of SUP Surfing in front of a newly informed crowd of what this sport can do. It was a moment to be remembered. Poynter puts himself back in the running for the World Title with this showcase performance and win. Gran Canaria’s El Loret will see a full-throated roar from this reigning world champ, the powerful Tahitian Poenaiki Raioha who’s made no secret of his commitment to win this year’s APP Championship and the maximally focused Luiz Diniz from Brazil, who’s upset here will surely only fuel his drive for a successful finish in the Canaries.
We can’t wait to see that show! December 10th - 19th, 2019 at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Stay tuned.
WOMEN’S FINAL DAY
The Women’s World Title competition on Finals Day proved to be the making of 5X World Champion Izzi Gomez, who unexpectedly captured her overall title through the events of a magnificent day.
To start the day, the Women’s Quarter Finals saw match ups between Columbia’s Izzi Gomez and Alazne Alonso (13.93 / 5.33), Canary Island native Iballa Moreno’s win against the tenacious Fiona Wylde (10.44 / 7.4), Peru’s blazing fire of Vania Olivieri Torres took out Maui’s fierce team rider of Lara Claydon (13.67 / 7.7) and Aussie Shakira Westdorp overcame Gabriela Sztamfer (12.54 / 8.1). The level of competition for all the women on the tour is dominant and increasing. From judges to spectators on the beach to the male athletes on tour, the consensus is the women’s side of the sport of SUP surfing is on the rise and exciting to watch. Each of these young ladies showcase a style, commitment and strength that is inspiring and wildly informative as to where we are headed next.
The Semi Final heats started with a premiere performance of 2019 rankings leader Izzi Gomez against the reigning world champion Iballa Moreno. Moreno’s slashing top turns and steep drops made her a perfect match up to Gomez’s power and style. The women traded waves in a formidable display of talent, deep commitment and desire to win. Gomez’s wave selection and ability to execute several maneuvers to the inside of every wave edged her out above Moreno, but it was clear that the Canary Island native was not going to let go until the final bell. (13.27 / 11.57).
In the next final heat, premiering Vania Torres and Shakira Westdorp, we again witnessed two women who’s coaching, training and commitment bring them to the next level of SUP surfing. Vania’s technical work with coach Ian Cairns showed itself in her brilliant execution of choice waves, hitting the placement for top turns and her power in cutbacks and slashes. The Aussie’s talents are unmistakable as she charged every wave with her own personal athletic style, showing clearly how this athlete earned her 3rd place in the overall rankings. Torres’ nailed her maneuvers, driving from deep in the pocket and hitting the lip to power back down the line, surfing each wave to the inside. Her defeat of Westdorp should be noted as a promise of things to come (12.16 / 9.77).
The rankings are calculated over each event with points awarded for placement; therefore, there were several possible scenarios coming into Barbados. As Shakira Westdorp was in third place overall, with a chance at the title, when Moreno fell to Gomez and Westdorp to Torres, a quick review of the results revealed that Izzi Gomez had just captured her 5th World Title Championship. Up on the spectator tent, as the announcer counted down the last seconds of the heat, Gomez put her head in her hands in disbelief that she had just won another world title. Receiving a standing ovation from the crowd around her, Izzi addressed the viewers online with her gratitude and absolute excitement at having been awarded more World Title wins on the APP World Tour than Kai Lenny. Izzi Gomez now enters into a league of her own and we await with anticipation where she will take it. Congrats, Izzi!!! On a job well done and title well earned.
When the Final Round for the Women’s event began, we may have had a world champion in our midst but the outcome of the Barbados ProAm still needed to be decided. Peru’s Vania Torres stroked into the lineup looking every bit a champion herself as she put herself to the test against Izzi Gomez’s success and talent. Torres surfed her heat with the precision and style of her drive to the finals and the judges awarded her for those super-charged turns and slashes off the top. Gomez, still high from her World Title win, found her rhythm in the waves and - with the talent she is known for - edged out Torres for the Barbados ProAm top seed win. Both women surfed incredible heats throughout the event and should be notably celebrated. We are grateful to see such talent arising through the women’s ranks in the growing sport of SUP Surfing (18.1 /10.14).
On to Gran Canaria! The development of this World Title run for the Men will make this next stop a showcase event on one of the world’s most iconic right-hand breaks. And the women will challenge the waves and each other for the event title win plus prize money to make surfing this iconic wave with only a few women out a sporting event with excellent competition. See you in the Canaries, December 10th - 19th and stay tuned to the APP World Tour website for further updates.