16th December 2018 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria APP World Championship Finals
Poynter Advances, Schweitzer Drops Out: A Day of Champions
“The wave was perfect.” – Poanaiki Raioha
These are the words used by multiple athletes, to describe what has been truly, one of the finest days of sup surfing in the sport’s competitive history. Perfect, reeling rights with off-shore winds, sunny skies and an ideal ampitheater for crowds to gather and watch the finale to the 2018 APP World Surfing Tour. What a way to wrap up the 2018 season!
Your winners: Sean Poynter & Iballa Moreno, two newly crowned World Champions, both for the first time, among a host of world class athletes who put on a spectacular performance for spectators and fans alike at El Loret in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for the final day of the APP World Tour.
Watch the FULL BROADCAST replay @ APP TV
El Loret turns on for Final Day of Competition
With ideal conditions lining up for the final day of competition, the decision was made to move to the high performance venue at El Lloret, just down the boardwalk from the main contest venue, where perfect overhead to double overhead surf was reeling down the line, groomed by light, offshore winds and the promise to build throughout the day. In short, El Loret delivered.
In the Men’s Quarter Finals, some of the match ups held the makings of legends:
The first quarter final heat saw Sean Poynter square off against Luis Diniz from Brazil. As the swell began to pump and excitement built, Luis applied pressure and fought valiantly against Sean’s frontside snaps and powerful drives down the line, but – on this day – was not able to advance. We know we’ll be seeing more of his talented Brazillian next year on the APP World Tour and look forward to watch as he continuously redefines the boundaries of performance SUP Surfing.
Moving through the Quarter Finals heat next was Frenchman Julien Bouyer who surfed an impressively competitive heat against Leonardo Gimenes. Julien’s stoke was unmistakable in moving past the Quarter Finals. His first ever advancement in a major event into the Semis and rightfully so, as his beautifully consistent snaps and driving bottom turns were a showcase to watch throughout the event.
In the most significant Quarter Final match up, Hawaii’s Zane Schweitzer surfed against the rising tide of Poenaiki Raioha who’s incredible performances kept getting raising heat scores throughout the day. Poinaiki’s spot on wave selection and flawless turns kept turning the tables on Zane to stay in the heat of the battle. Zane, as always, found multiple waves with incredible style, slashing and firing down the line, but missed the opportunity to advance with one big scoring wave. The end result, with a couple of excellent scores, Poenaiki advanced into the Semi Finals.
WIth Zane dropping out of the competition in the quarter finals, there was only one man left standing between Sean Poynter and his first World Championship Title, and that was Poenaiki Raioha. However, if Sean advanced on into the finals from his next heat, he would clinch the Title, regardless of what Poenaiki did, so the pressure was still directly on the American and somewhat out of the Tahitian’s hands.
The final heat of the quarterfinals saw a flawless display of performance surfing by the Peruvian, Sebastian Gomez, as he bested the ever impressive Wellington Reis from Brazil advancing througn to the semi finals to face Poenaiki Raioha.
Make sure to watch the LIVE broadcast replays from the Gran Canaria Pro-Am @ APP TV
The Semi Finals pitted Sean Poynter against Julien Bouyer and Ponaiki Raioha vs. Sebastian Gomez as the swell delivered some of the best waves of the day, with perfect green faces and long walls for optimal performance from the World’s very best athletes. The crowds also continued to grow for the final rounds in this ideal natural ampitheter that holds El Loret as its showcase.
Sean Poynter led off the charge with an outside set wave against Julien Buoyer. Sean’s performance only grew sharper, with his World Title aspirations on the line – he knew he had to win this heat in order to secure the World Title in 2018, so all the pressure was squarely on him – while Julien Bouyer, already ecstatic with his performance in the Gran Canaria Pro-Am had nothing to lose – a potentially dangerous scenario!
However, the ever professional and focused Poynter maintained composure and delivered an exceptional semi final heat with a couple of excellent scores to secure not only his berth in the prestigious Final heat of the Gran Canaria Pro-Am, but his place in history as the 2018 World Champion!
As the announcer counted down the final seconds of the round, the crowd came to its feet to celebrate a fierce waterman who’s chase for a World Title had finally come to realization. As Sean surfed to shore, the dream became real: the APP World Tour had a new 2018 World Surfing Champion in Sean Poynter.
Relive the moment by watching the LIVE broadcast replays @ APP TV
Semi Finals Raises Bar for Men’s SUP Surf as Poenaiki Raioha Scores Perfect 10
Last in the Semis came Poenaiki Raioha vs. Sebastian Gomez, a highly anticipated heat that pit two of the most stylish and flow focused surfers in the world against each other for a critical heat. While any Title aspirations for Poenaiki Raioha were now over, he let it all out and only raised the bar again in response to the heightened competition, as this Semifinal match up unleased another level from the French Polynesian.
The Tahitian displayed flawless style on one of the most beautiful waves of the day at El Loret with an impressive display of boldly executed maneuvers as he relentlessly drove down the line. The judges awarded him the compeition’s and the season’s only perfect 10, pushing him past Gomez who will have to wait for another day to rise to the top.
Watch the recap of the LIVE BROADCAST to see Raioha’s Perfect Score @ APP TV
The men’s final, perfectly matched between Poynter v Raioha, was the grand finale for an incredible day of competition here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A final display of technical and powerful surfing styles by the two men who’s performances here have literally changed the way SUP surfing is seen on the Canary Islands. Who can forget the fading light of the day bouncing off the incredible hues of El Loret’s magnificent faces with powerful white water pounding into the rocks? What a moment to be a part of the sport.
Poynter and Raioha traded waves back & forth in the pumping surf, driving wave scores to new levels and excitement to a fever pitch. Both men technically excellent; both men surfing at the top of their game on the perfect stage for the world to witness. Massive turns, explosive snaps, roundhouse cutbacks into the towering white water. Poenaiki Raioha and Sean Poynter held the crowd’s attention and went blow for blow, as wave after wave each rider was sending it to a new level.
Poenaiki’s bold and aggressive manuevers were a perfect match to Poynter’s technically defined power and strength. It was a final to remember. As the wave scores rolled in, the lead changing back and forth continuously in the countdown to the finish. In the end, Poenaiki Raioha the French Polynesian surfer, who’s talented efforts pushed the judges to award him multiple scores in the excellent range, was handed the win with a staggering heat score total of 17.57 compared to 17.4 for Sean Poynter. An incredible, compettitive moment for the sport of Stand Up Paddling that will not be forgotten, as history was made this year at the Gran Canaria Pro-Am.
But there were no closes on this day, with a valiant Final performance from the new World Champion, Sean Poynter, and a victorious moment for the young Tahitian talent. What a day it was for Sean who thanked his sponsors, coach Ian Cairns, family & friends and more. Sean’s run for a World Title began in 2010. He has been held off by coming in 2nd multiple times and once third. Today, was a day to become champion, in every sense of the word and it was an emotional moment for the worthy Champion.
The APP World Tour is the Professional World Championship Tour for the Sport of Paddlesurfing (also known as SUP / Stand Up Paddling / Paddleboarding), officially sanctioned by the IOC recognized Federation for Surfing Sports, the ISA (International Surfing Association). Re-branded in 2017 as the APP World Tour (previously known as the Stand Up World Tour and Series) the APP has been crowning the sport’s World Champions for both Men & Women across Racing and Surfing since 2010.
The APP World Tour produces a complete inventory of programming, including live and post produced broadcasts from its events, with distribution to over 100 countries worldwide via premier global networks such as CBS Sports and Fox Sports Asia & Australia. More Information is available at www.appworldtour.com and fans can follow events @appworldtour on Facebook & Instagram. For more information on the APP’s City Paddle Festivals please visit www.citypaddlefestivals.com.