The world watched on as Ho’okipa delivered on the first day of competition at the JP Aloha Classic…
Results so far and best of day one gallery:
Catch up on the AWT live action on the Boardseeker homepage…
AWT Judging philosophy:
“Impress us with your wave selection, timing, tightness of turns, projections off the lip and flow that connects you to the wave. You are starting with a blank canvas, so be creative. The most important thing is the art of surfing on the wave with a sail.”
With the competition now officially open Head Judge Duncan Coombs decided to run straight into the AWT Pro fleet with the first 16 heats of Round #1 while keeping the option to run all fleets later. It was not long before it was clear that the combination of fun conditions and motivated riders was delivering excellent competition. It was decided that we would continue with Round 2 and heats 17 through 24 before moving into the Women’s heats.
The first of a number of interesting family rivalries started with Heat #1 which was to be an all Pritchard affair. Kevin goes into this event ranked 2nd on the AWT Tour and holds a confirmed wildcard into the PWA bracket, he has been battling illness these past few days but you would not know it from watching him sail. With powerful moves and a clean big areal you would expect him to cruise through but older brother Matt was in no mood to lie down and his combination of powerful turns, aggression and style saw him narrowly take the heat and force Kevin into Round #2 where riders who did not win in Round #1 go head to head to win the right to advance.
Camile Juban came into the Tour finals already having wrapped up the overall Pro title for the second year in succession, looking relaxed on the water he found the most critical seconds and demonstrated to the watching crowd and online viewers why he could go all the way and claim both AWT and PWA glory in this event.
If Josh can run deep in the competition he could become more and more dangerous.
Heat #22 saw 15 yr old Harley Stone (son of Josh) face his Uncle Jason and while the older Stone put together some impressive rides it was not good enough to take down the youngster and family bragging rights go to Harley who had narrowly missed out on winning his first heat. The youngest competitor in the Pro fleet now faces Miller, Hauser & Loffreda in Heat #30 when competition resumes. With Josh advancing through Heat #23 we now have the possibility of a father-son semi final if they both make it through!
As the first 24 Men’s heats had been completed the women took center stage with riders old and new excited to battle for the prestigious Aloha Classic title. Unfortunately the wind began to fade and the day was called to a close after only three heats however Junko, Shawna and Sarah had already stomped their mark on the bracket with aggression, commitment and fluid style. Heat #4 which featured top seed and three time AWT Women’s Tour champion Ingrid Larouche had to be cancelled as the wind faded and the surfers began to swarm.
With nearly six hours and 27 heats completed (out of a planned potential 181), we still have lots of action ahead in the days to come. It might be an interesting time to give more insight into what the judges are looking for so you can watch at home and make sense of the scoring.
Despite Camile’s clear prowess there are a number of contenders for this title, none more so than Graham Ezzy who scored the highest wave tally of the day with a large, perfectly timed and clean goiter off a powerful section at the Point. We caught up with him to hear his thoughts about his heat at the competition:
Today was a good warm up – fun-size Ho’okipa. I’ve spent the last 16 or so months away from the stress of competition to focus on my wave sailing here on Maui and all over the globe. Only this year did I really ‘find’ my style, a unique mindset and bodyset in approaching waves and riding them. After such a long absence, competing feels fresh to me, and I love Ho’okipa, my home. The forecast looks good for next week, and this year’s Aloha Classic has a particularly strong group of competitors. I feel excited as both a competitor and a spectator of my favorite sport. Advancing heats requires focus and luck. Wish me luck…