Sean Poynter and Iballa Moreno are crowned World Champions, both for the first time. After displaying some spectacular performances at El Loret in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the final day of the APP World Tour. All competitors out on a great show, demonstrating the strength in depth in the SUP surfing world, and the limits in which the paddlers are pushing.
Men’s SUP Surf Results
The quarter finals saw Zane Schweitzer bowing out after coming up against French Polynesian paddler Poenaiki Raioha. Recent ISA ChampionLuis Diniz from Brazil came unstuck after coming up against inform Sean Poynter, who advacned into the Semi’s. Meanwhile French man Julien Bouyer surfed impressively and booked himself into the semi finals.
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 continued to grow for the final rounds in this ideal natural amphitheatre that holds El Loret as its showcase.
Sean Poynter led off the charge with an outside set wave against Julien Bouyer. Sean’s performance only grew sharper, with his World Title aspirations on the line – he new 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 is 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 following his performances over the series!
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 unleashed another level from the French Polynesian.
In the finals 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 manoeuvres 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, competitive 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.
Womens’s SUP Surf Competition
7-8 foot peeling right handers greeted the women for the morning’s competition and the day exploded into new levels of performance for the Women’s side of SUP Surfing. In the Quarter Final rounds we saw the field narrow as Iballa Moreno superceded young Alazne Alonso in a dominant heat. Iballa’s intent was clear as she made singular use of every wave to maximise her scores in a run for the top. Alonso’s surfing was strong but no match for the World Title contender in her home waters surrounded by her fans, family and spectators all eager to see the Canary Island native bring home a World Championship title.
Vania Olivieri Torres matched up with the USA’s Candice Appleby for a searing Quarter Final heat which saw both women finding multiple rides to increase their overall heat scores. However, Torres managed to find the better waves and scored with her high energy turns and incredible consistency down the line executing multiple manoeuvres for the judges with technical skill and performance.
In Heat #3, Izzi Gomez turned on the power against Gabriela Sztamfater from Brazil. As the swell built in both power and size, the Californian found her comfort zone with powerful hooks off the top and dramatic cut backs to stay within the waves power zone. Izzi rose to her full performance value throughout Sunday’s competition and the Quarter Final Rounds proved to be her warm up for a massive event. Last on the docket for the QF was a great match up between Australia’s Shakira Westdorp and Brazil’s Nicole Pacelli. Shakira, a good friend to Iballa Moreno, had it in her power to hand her friend the World Championship Title if she were able to dominate the exceedingly talented Pacelli and knock her from the competition. Shakira’s focus was absolute and when this young Aussie is on her top performance, she is close to unbeatable.
Pacelli’s strong presence has been felt throughout the APP World Tour with her 2nd place finish in New York and her slashing top turns in Gran Canaria. Shakira was able to overcome Pacelli after a heated battle to surf in to a big battle hug from Iballa Moreno who had just won her first ever World SUP Surfing title!
Semi Final Heat #1 matched Iballa Moreno with Vania Olivieri Torres. Iballa had won her World Title and now, in seeking a win for the Gran Canaria ProAm, unleashed a new level of power. In a display of hometown courage, Iballa sought shelter under the lip in an 8 footer, almost claiming the first barrel of the event. The crowd rewarded this 2018 windsurf & SUP champ with loud, expressive cheers for the native girl’s efforts. Vania fought back, but was no match for a champ on a roll and the heat ended in Iballa’s favor 12.5/ 6.9.
The day’s second Semi Final heat saw a great confrontation between Shakira Westdorp and Izzi Gomez. As both women recall it, they were cheering each other on and calling one another into massive waves in what became an elite expression session for both athletes. Shakira, charging hard as always, found a powerful drive on one wave and executed her stylish cut backs and top turns with usual precision; however, Izzi was lighting the wick of a whole new level of performance scoring an 8.33 ride as well as several others was able to take the win.
Izzi & Iballa, in a final showdown, did not disappoint the crowds and spectators that had come to watch. Iballa’s strong skills and radical moves in the surf all day, showcasing her courage and confidence as well as massive talent is the criteria for any World Champion.
Wave after wave the women traded places at the top of the leaderboard, each driving big to increase scores and please the judges Izzi’s wicked snaps off the lip followed by those roundhouse cutbacks were blazing with talent. Iballa answered every move with her own innovative style and technical skill mking it near impossilbe to predict the winner outcome.
As the clock ticked down, Izzi found a perfect set up and scored a 9.5 – highest wave score for the women in the entire competition – for her dominant forehand powerhouse snaps to put her in the lead. Iballa dug deep, but just could not find the wave she would need to overcome Izzi’s impressive scorline ending the heat and the competition with Izzi on top with a heat score total of 16.07 to Iballa’s 14.16. It was the Infinity rider Izzi who took the win on the day, but Iballa who won was crowned World APP Tour Champion 2018!
Check out the full rankings for the men and women SUP Surf APP World Tour.