The “Wrightsville Beach SUP surf Pro Am” returned to Crystal Beach Pier in Wrightsville Beach (North Carolina, USA) this last saturday for its 5th edition. This is basically the biggest SUP surfing event of the East coast and one of the biggest worldwide too with a stacked field of talented surfers coming from all around the world.
Good conditions, good atmosphere, good organization
With some nice 2-3ft waves, an offshore wind, and a sunny North Carolinan weather, the conditions were perfect in the morning for the contest to start off the right way. The Carolina Paddleboard Company did an amazing job organizing this event, making sure that paddlers of all levels could compete, have fun and leave the beach with a smile on their faces. The contest included pro and open divisions (with age groups) for the shortSUP categorie and an Open division for the Longboard SUP and Glider (11ft+ longboards) categories.
Mo Freitas an Izzi Gomez won the ShortSUP divisions with style
Hawaii’s Mo Freitas wowed the crowd with style, grace and radical maneuvers to capture the top spot in the Men’s Professional Division for 2017. Following Martin Letourneur’s second place finish in this division was Florida SUP Surfer and model Giorgio Gomez in third. Brazil’s Caio Vaz, two times world champion and a crowd favorite in Wrightsville’s competition, finished in fourth place. The level of expertise and execution was so high, only four-tenths of one point separated the top four finishers. Fisher Grant, of Florida, and Bullet Obra, of Hawaii, 2015 and 2016 All Waterman Award winners, were unable to secure a slot in the finals.
In the Women’s Professional Division, Florida’s Izzi Gomez bagged her third victory in a row. Izzi’s World Championship and ISA Gold Medalist skills were on full display. Surfing at an equally high level this year was Lexi Alston from Dana Point, CA. At 15 years old, Lexi took the runner-up in this year’s Pro Division. Fellow Hobie Team Rider, and North Carolina local April Zilg took third place ahead of Florida native Kristin Moyer. Placing 5th and traveling all the way from India to compete in both the SUP Surf Pro Am and next week’s Carolina Cup, Tanvi Jagadish’s dream is to continue to train and compete with the best women in the world despite social conventions where she lives.
Colin McPhillips is still the master of the glide
New to this year’s event was the traditional Glider division, where participants rode surfboards that were 10’6” and longer. Three-time world champion longboarder Colin McPhillips took the win in this new division. As well as the win in the Longboard SUP Open in which he beat the 2015 and 2016 event overall winners Fisher Grant (2nd) and Bullet Obra (4th) alongsides with Frenchman Martin Letourneur (3rd).
The French outsider Martin Letourneur won the overall event
After back-to-back qualifying heats and intense finals competition, Martin Letourneur from Saint-Malo, France, captured the coveted and overall performance trophy, the Haywood Newkirk, Sr. All Waterman Award.
“I am very at home in these conditions, my home surf spot in France is always quite windy with small waves, so these conditions would actually be a good day for us.”
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