Kanoa Igarashi (USA) finished second in both of his heats at the Hainan Classic today to advance to the Round of 32. Pic ASP/Robertson.
RIYUE BAY, Wanning/Hainan Island/China (Monday, January 28, 2012) – Today for the first time in history China hosted the opening event of the ASP World Tour. The ASP 4-Star Hainan Classic held at Wanning’s Riyue Bay on Hainan Island features surfers from all over the planet battling for ASP World Tour ranking’s points and US$95,000 in prize-money.
Raditya Rondi (IND), reigning Asian surfing champion posted an impressive heat win in the Round of 96 today. The four man heat was a see-sawing battle with multiple position changes, but in the end Rondi held the lead thanks to an excellent ride that saw him earn an 8.00 (out of a possible 10), making his two-wave heat-total 13.83 (out of a possible 20).
“I’m stoked to be here,” said Rondi. “I saw this contest on the webcast last year and saw that it was left handers, so I was preparing by going left a lot at home in Bali. I feel so good because I know Kanoa (Igarashi) is very famous, I just tried to catch a lot of waves. I’m stoked to win the heat.”
Kanoa Igarashi (USA) required a 7.51 to take the lead from Rondi in the dying minutes of their heat as he paddled into a great looking wave. Igarashi unleashed some vertical turns, falling just short of the required score, earning a 7.50, matching Rondi’s heat-total of 13.83. In the case of a tie the surfer with the highest single wave score of the heat takes the win and today it was Rondi. Igarashi went on to finish second in his Round of 64 Heat to advance to the Round of 32.
“I love it here in China,” Igarashi said. “It’s really cold at home in California right now so I’m stoked to be somewhere tropical and warm. This is my first ever ASP Star event, it was fun and I’m stoked to make the heat. I’m just here with a friend and we’re just having fun, it doesn’t matter if we lose early or go all the way, we just want to enjoy our time here.”
Carlo Zapata (PER) was the day’s most dominant surfer posting a near perfect 9.17 and backed that up with another score in the excellent range, a 8.33. Zapata started the heat off slow posting a couple of average scores, but came out of nowhere in the second half of the heat to earn the title of the day’s standout surfer.
“I was just waiting for a good one,” Zapata said. “I know the quality of this wave is high and the heat was 25 minutes, so I waited a long time for a good one. The first heat is the one that breaks the ice, it’s the one that if you do well you feel comfortable. There are a lot of lefts in the north of Peru, but I live in Lima where there is rights. I do go north to surf a lot because the waves are really good. I do feel really comfortable here.”
Kaipo Jaquias (HAW), 90s ASP World Tour veteran and Hawaiian legend today showed that good old fashioned power surfing will never go out of style. Jaquias was in second position as time was running out, he caught one last wave, belted the long Riyue Bay runner and clocked an excellent 8.00 that saw him win his Round of 96 heat.
“My era on tour was with guys like Dane Kealoha, Tom Carroll, Tom Curren, Occy and even Kelly Slater,” Jaquias said. “I gave it away to stay at home and raise my son and family, which I don’t regret, but I honestly do miss competing. ISA gave me an opportunity to come here to surf and my wife told me do it. I don’t have a sponsor or pressure to get results, it’s about doing what I know how to do best and that’s catching waves. I’m having fun.”
Hiroto Arai (JPN) was the surprise package of the day, using his smooth and sharp backhand attack to notch the day’s second highest two-wave heat-total – 16.77. Arai will now face Messias Felix (BRA), Soli Bailey (AUS) and Matheus Navarro (BRA) in Heat 13 when competition resumes tomorrow.
“I spend a lot of time in Australia competing and it’s helped my surfing,” Arai said. “The waves were small, but amazing in my heat. It’s slow out there, but if you get the set, it doubles up and lets you do some turns. I got a few good waves so I’m happy with that heat.”
Ryan Callinan (AUS) looked right at home on his forehand at Riyue Bay’s long lefts today. Callinan’s competitive career has suffered a couple of injury blows in recent years, but hard work and training has seen him get back to his best and now he’s looking for a big result at the 2013 Hainan Classic.
“I’ve only surfed out here once so I was just feeling out the line-up,” Callinan said. “This is my first trip to China, I heard the event was at a left point and I thought it would suit me and my style. The 12-year-old kid in my heat Wolf has probably got the coolest name in the event. I was talking to him out there, he’s really cool. It’s good to see the local surfers get into it.”
Wolf Wertheimer (HKG), the 12-year-old surfer from Hong Kong finished last in his heat, but amassed the highest heat total out of all the local surfers and gained a wealth of experience.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to compete in this year’s Hainan Classic,” Wertheimer said. “I think a lot of kids from Australia and all over the world would love to be given this opportunity. I am so happy. It was so good to have a heat with these pro guys!”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre was impressed by the level of surfing at this year’s Hainan Classic from both the international professional surfers and the locals who have embraced our sport.
“I’m very happy the swell has picked up and we are able to run the competition on the point at Riyue Bay,” said Aguerre. “While the surf today is not as perfect as a year ago, the waves and the rides are long, the performance level is high, and the competition has been strong. I’m amazed at how good the young Chinese surfers have become in just one year since the ISA first came to China.”
The first four heats of the Round of 64 ran this afternoon as the swell started to pick up, with Kaito Ohashi (JPN), Davey Cathels (AUS), Maxime Huscenot (FRA) and Mitch Crews (AUS) all posting heat wins. A call will be made at 7:30am tomorrow for a possible 8am start.