The Battle Continues at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival

Friday began with torrential rain at Praia da Tiririca and forced Event Organizers to put competition on hold at the 2015 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. Yet as is the case in tropical regions, the sun shortly returned and the action continued at the WSL Men’s QS 6000 event in Bahia, Brazil.

Bruno Galini (BRA) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Bruno Galini (BRA) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

Bruno Galini (BRA) once again kicked off the excitement with a victory as he earned a 16.07 after opening up with an 8.50 and subsequently backed it up with a 7.57 on his two best scoring rides. Galini was able to defeat a stacked line-up of opponents as he dispatched Nic von Rupp (PRT) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA). Soli Bailey (AUS) moved on in 2nd place with a 12.40 total.

“When I saw the heat draw yesterday (Thursday), I knew I had to surf my best to beat these guys,” said Galini. “I’d have to at least catch the best waves if I wanted to make it to the next round because everybody rips. I felt like the lefts would be key. I saw Yage (Araujo) getting some in the heat before mine, so I thought I’d do the same. In the beginning I couldn’t find anything, but from the middle of the heat on out, I found two good ones to win the heat.”

Santiago Muniz (ARG) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Santiago Muniz (ARG) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

In Heat 5 of Round 3, Jadson Andre (BRA) once again looked to pull rank over QS surfers Santiago Muniz (ARG), Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Derek Peters (USA). Yet it was Muniz who stormed to the lead as he put together a solid heat score of 16.00, which included a 9.00 point ride. Igarashi stepped into action and jumped into second place as he maintained his steady performance in the QS events in Brazil.

“That was a super important heat for me. I mean all the other ones too, but that was a really hard heat. We had a CT surfer and a couple really good QS surfers,” Igarashi said. “The waves were pretty good, so I knew there’d be some high scores in the heat. At the end, Santiago ran away with it. And I was bummed for Derek because we’re staying together. I just waited for my wave and it came and it went my way so I’m stoked.”

Igarashi later shared his perspective in regards to the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival in Itacaré.

Kanoa Igarashi (USA) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Kanoa Igarashi (USA) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

“It’s beautiful here, an amazing place,” declared Igarashi. “I came here 2 years ago when the event was a 4-Star. So I knew this wave had potential to be really good. The tourism board is really supportive and loves surfing, so we’re all stoked to be here. We’re pretty much in paradise. It doesn’t feel like we’re competing. There are trees everywhere, coconuts, açaí, good food, white sand and blue water. It feels like we’re on vacation, but we’ve got to make sure that we remember that we’re still competing because everyone wants to win.”

Only the Top 10 ranked surfers on the WSL Qualifying Series at the end of this year’s Surfing Season will qualify for the 2016 Championship Tour. Results at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival QS 6000 are immensely sought after as the athletes look to solidify their place in the standings.

Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) needs to win the event to make it into the Top 10. Soli Bailey (AUS) and Dion Atkinson (AUS) need to make it to the Semifinals if they want to overcome Maxime Huscenot (FRA) who currently has 15,100 points on the QS rankings. For the remaining athletes in striking range, Evan Geiselman (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS) and Connor O’Leary (AUS) all need to make it to the Quarterfinals to be eligible for qualification.

Connor OLeary (AUS) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Connor O’Leary (AUS) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

In Heat 11 of Round 3, O’Leary looked fierce on the waves in the 2-3 foot range (1 meter) and earned the highest heat total of the day, a 16.70 (8.93 + 7.77). The promising young surfer from Brazil, Yage Araujo (BRA) threw a massive air to take second place and advance into Round 4 alongside O’Leary.

“The tide’s getting high now, so things are getting a bit slower, but I was lucky to get a few at the start before the boys started to catch up to me,” said O’Leary. “I’m currently 22nd right now, so I’m not really thinking about it too much. I started doing the Primes midway through last year, so I’m just kind of going through the motions and trying to get through a few heats.”

The intense battle for conclusive positions on the QS rankings will continue on Saturday at Praia da Tiririca. The contest is scheduled to run three rounds of competition and will determine the four Semifinalists that will compete for the title of the QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival on Sunday.



QS Rankings Continue to Shuffle at Mahalo Surf Eco Festival

On Thursday, a full day of surfing took place at Praia da Tiririca as twenty heats were run at the WSL Men’s QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. The action intensified as the top seeded surfers hit the water in Round 2. From here on out, every heat and every wave is crucial as the surfers battle it out for a spot in the Top 10 on the QS rankings and a ticket straight to the 2016 World Surf League Championship Tour.

19 surfers that are directly in reach of qualification competed on Thursday, but only ten advanced into Round 3. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Ryan Callinan (AUS) both won their heats and currently sit within the Top 10 on the QS. Other surfers to move ahead in competition were: Joan Duru (FRA), Even Geiselman (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS), Dion Atkinson (AUS), Soli Bailey (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW).

Kanoa Igarashi (USA) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Kanoa Igarashi (USA) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

After earning several mid-range scoring rides, Callinan took control of the lead as he earned an 8.73 for the high score in Heat 4 of Round 2. Fellow countryman Soli Bailey (AUS) also found an excellent scoring ride of an 8.50 to advance in 2nd place over Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA).

“It’s fun, there are good waves to be had out there. They’re a little tricky to find, but there are definitely a lot of fun waves and it’s really contestable,” said Callinan. “Yeah, it was a good wave. I actually had like 3rd priority or something but I was able to tag it twice and it ended up being my best score. I’m happy that it got me through the heat.”

Callinan was asked about his thoughts on qualification and who he thinks will win the World Title.

“The QS 6000s really aren’t my focus, the QS 10000S are,” Callinan responded. “But to get a win here will probably see me on there. So I’m putting a lot of effort in here and I’m just trying to get some heats under my belt. I’ve been waking up early, having early dinners and I’ll just keep surfing the way I’m surfing and hopefully it will all go well. I hope Mick wins, because I always support the Aussies, but it’s coming down to the wire now with everyone being knocked out of Portugal, so it’s going to be an exciting finish.”

Jadson Andre (BRA) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Jadson Andre (BRA) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

Kanoa Igarashi (USA) is currently in 6th on the QS ranking and is very close to adding his name to the list of CT surfers in 2016. Igarashi lived up to expectations as he took first place in Heat 9 of Round 2. Granger Larsen (HAW) advanced into Round 3 behind Igarashi in a close finish over Victor Bernardo (BRA) and Vicente Romero (ESP).

“Yeah, that was a hard heat. The waves were really difficult and it was hard to find the ones that gave you scoring potential,” Igarashi said. “So I just made sure I was giving myself opportunities and kept away from the other surfers when I didn’t have priority and I ended up getting my 7.17 without priority. [About the QS Ranking] I’m stoked to be in a position where I can qualify. It wasn’t a goal of mine at the beginning of the year, so to have this opportunity to maybe qualify, that just makes me feel so stoked. I still feel really young and I can’t believe that I’m in the top 10 right now. Of course I want to do good in this event and my goal is to win, so I want to do everything I can to do that.”

The crowd at Praia da Tiririca started to buzz as current CT surfer Jadson Andre (BRA) made his way out to the line-up for Heat 12 of Round 2. Facing Andre were Jean da Silva (BRA), Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) and Stuart Kennedy (AUS), who had just come off a Runner-Up finish at the QS 6000 event in Florianopolis.

Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

However, it was Boukhiam who demanded attention as he destroyed the 2-3 foot (1 meter) walls and obtained an 8.83 from the judges on his best scoring ride. Andre stayed active and was able to squeak past Kennedy by a tenth of a point to advance into the next round.

“I woke up early for a surf here. I spent a long time looking at the waves and I saw some rights breaking farther up the beach,” said Boukhiam. “I caught a good one to start off the heat, then I got another good one, but I ended up falling off. I’m just happy that I made it into the next round. I think it’s the first time that I had a heat in Round 2 of the QS with such incredible opponents. Stu (Kennedy), Jadson (Andre) and Jean (da Silva) are all great surfers and it was a good heat, so I’m glad I won.”

In the following heat, another CT surfer, Ricardo Christie (NZL) ripped apart a lefthander with three huge backside blasts for the highest single wave score of the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, a 9.17 (out of a possible 10 points). Christie added a 7.93 backup ride for the event’s highest heat total of 17.10. Joan Duru (FRA) earned two solid scores in the 7-point range (7.50 + 7.37) to advance into Round 3 alongside Christie over Willian Cardoso (BRA) and Cory Arrambide (USA).

Ricardo Christie (NZL) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Ricardo Christie (NZL) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

“It really was a good little wave. It wasn’t the biggest wave, but it had a double-up. After I took off it doubled in size and it had a bit of power in the sections,” said Christie. When asked about his opinion of Bahia:

“It’s beautiful here. It’s kind of what I imagine when I think of Brazil,” stated Christie. “There’s beautiful bush, it’s right on the beach. The water’s really warm. We’re here drinking coconut and eating mango, it’s pretty beautiful. It’s sick.”

A call is set for 8 am local time to finish off the four remaining heats of Round 2 before moving on to Round 3. First up will be Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Cooper Chapman (AUS), Oney Anwar (IDN) and Ian Crane (USA).


Itacare Set to Host QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival

The Mahalo Surf Eco Festival is the most traditional event on the WSL South America calendar. Eight previous editions have taken place in the state of Bahia; with events held at Praia do Forte and Salvador before making its way to Praia da Tiririca, in Itacaré. Now the event has reached a new level of importance by having its status raised from a 4-Star to a QS 6000 event.

For the third year in a row, the city of Itacaré will attract a large number of international athletes vying for a substantial result and a chance to solidify their positions on the World Surf League Qualifying Series ranking before heading to Hawaii for the Triple Crown of Surfing. The Mahalo Surf Eco Festival will run from October 27th to November 1st and is the second of three consecutive QS events in Brazil. A total of U$150,000 in prize money will be distributed to a wide array of surfers from around the globe that will be competing at Praia da Tiririca.

Praia da Tiririca - Itacaré - Bahia Praia da Tiririca

The Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, developed by Grupo Dendê Productions since 2008, combines a top-level surfing competition together with a music festival and a variety of environmental attractions. Due to its elevated status as a QS 6,000 event, it will be decisive as only the top-10 ranked athletes on the WSL Qualifying Series will achieve their long sought-after goal of making it onto the 2016 Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT).

Railton Lemos, Director for Dendê Productions and founder of the Surf Eco Festival took pride in his accomplishments and had this to say:

“We’ve always believed in surfing’s potential and we were some of the first in the Northeast to invest in the sport, so we’re honored to continue with one of the Qualifying Series’ most traditional events in Brazil. We’re even more excited this year since the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival has now risen to a QS 6,000 Event. But that also means a lot more responsibility, so we’re working hard to provide an unforgettable event for the athletes and the public; making sure that they’ll leave here already thinking about the contest in 2016.”

The Mahalo Surf Eco Festival will be the last QS 6,000 event of the 2015 Surfing Season and Itacaré could possibly guarantee CT qualification for athletes currently on the QS.

In addition to all the action in the water provided by some of the world’s elite athletes and exciting young up-and-comers, the event will focus on sustainability and a number of environmental endeavors all week long at Praia da Tiririca. As an added bonus, the weekend will exhilarate the crowds with a music festival composed of local and national musical acts.

Alex Ribeiro (SP) in 2014 Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 2014 Champion

Since its inception in 2008, the Surf Eco Festival has always ended with a huge music festival. This year, it’s grown even larger with concerts running throughout the duration of the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. The line-up includes: Baiana System, Ponto de Equilíbrio, Seu Jorge, Cidade Negra, Nando Reis and Legião Urbana. In addition, each day of the event will end with DJs performing at sunset. All performances and concerts are open to the public and will surely thrill the animated crowds in Itacaré.

“The musical line-up and our concentration on environmental education has always made our event stand out in comparison to others,” continued Lemos. “We believe that the fusion of surfing and music is a perfect match. We’ve gotten together some amazing talent that will be sure to please the audience’s taste. Our agenda is also centered on propagating a sustainable lifestyle. That’s why each year we set up tents where kids can learn about ecology and teach them how to bring that knowledge back into their households, along with increasing their love for surfing.”

In respect to their view on sustainability, being ecologically correct and nature preservation, Dendê Productions pioneered the history of competitive surfing in 2014 by being the first surf event to use solar energy; reducing the ecological footprint of the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. This positive impact will be repeated this year’s event at Praia da Tiririca in addition to complimentary lectures and activities based on environmental education.

Adriano de Souza (BRA)  - Itacaré - Bahia Adriano de Souza (BRA)

The first edition of the Surf Eco Festival was held in 2008 at Praia do Forte, Bahia and consisted of Men’s and Women’s 5-Star events, won respectively by current CT standouts, Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Silvana Lima (BRA).

In 2009, the contest moved to the capital city of Salvador in Bahia. In addition to the Men’s and Women’s QS events, the contest also held the South America Men’s and Women’s Pro Junior Championships, also won by exceptional current CT surfers. Alejo Muniz (BRA) defeated Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the Pro Junior Final at Praia da Armação. The following year, Miguel Pupo (BRA) took out the title in the same location. In 2011, Filipe Toledo (BRA) won the event at Praia de Jaguaribe, before changing locations to Itacaré in 2012.

In Itacaré, the Mahalo surf wear company began sponsoring the Surf Eco Festival as a 4-Star QS event. In 2013, Halley Batista (BRA) won the contest. In 2014, Alex Ribeiro (BRA), who is currently ranked in the top-10 on the 2015 WSL QS rankings, won the event. Another familiar name to be successful at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival is Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), who came in 1st place at last year’s event.

The Mahalo Surf Eco Festival is brought to you by Dendê Productions and is sponsored by Mahalo, the City of Itacaré, Pousada Ecoporan, the Department of Tourism for the State of Bahia, TV Santa Cruz and Skol. The QS 6,000 Event is sanctioned by the WSL South America and will distribute U$150,000 in prize money and 6,000 points valid towards the WSL Qualifying Series rankings.