Kanoa Igarashi wins the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival 2015

On Sunday, Kanoa Igarashi (USA), 18, achieved the most important accomplishments in his career so far as he confirmed his qualification onto the 2016 World Surf League Championship Tour after defeating Connor O’Leary (AUS), 22, in the Final of the QS 6,000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival held at Praia da Tiririca, in Itacaré, Brazil.

Kanoa got off to a quick start during the Final by throwing a straight frontside air on a right at Praia da Tiririca that gave him a 7.00 on his first ride. He then followed with another ride where he executed several strong frontside hacks for a 6.17. O’Leary chose to be patient and his strategy paid off as he earned a 7.77 on his first scoring opportunity, then added a 5.93 for a 13.70 heat total and the lead over Igarashi.

O’Leary extended his lead when he displayed a series of vicious backhand hacks on a right which merited a 6.97 for his backup score. With only three minutes remaining in the Final, Igarashi scratched into a righthander and reached an incredible speed before chucking a huge full rotation reverse to take the lead with a 7.40. In the dying seconds, with O’Leary needing a 7.20, Igarashi caught another right, threw two air reverses on the same wave and sealed his victory with a 7.57; the final score being 14.74 to 14.40 respectively.

“I can’t believe what I’m feeling, this is amazing,” exclaimed Igarashi as he reached the winner’s podium. “It’s the biggest win in my life and the best year of my life. I can’t believe it, I’m so happy. Things are a lot better for me now. There’s a lot less pressure and less events, so I don’t have to worry as much anymore. Now I can enjoy things a little more and relax, but I still want to do well in Maresias. I’m loving Brazil and I love being here, so I can’t wait for Maresias too.”

Despite not winning the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, O’Leary was pleased with his performance in Itacaré. In addition to establishing the highest heat total (18.44) and the highest single wave score of the event (9.57), the young Australian also climbed into the list of Top 10 surfers that are eligible for qualification onto the elite division of competitive surfing, the Championship Tour (CT).

“Yeah this is a sick result,” said O’Leary. “This is the first QS final I’ve ever been in, so I’m stoked. Things are a bit lumpy and bumpy, but there’s still scoring opportunities out there, so it’s all good. It’s cool to be leaving here with a 2nd place finish.”

Competition on Sunday began with Igarashi facing up against Ryan Callinan (AUS) in Heat 1 of the Semifinals. Although Callinan had an 8.83 on his highest scoring ride, his low scoring 2nd ride was not enough to overtake the Californian and was defeated by a score of 14.83 to 13.16.

In Heat 2 of the Semifinals, O’Leary was matched against the lone Brazilian left in competition, David do Carmo (BRA). Both surfers were neck and neck throughout the heat as they kept busy and produced several mid-range scores. Do Carmo had a chance to take the win on his last wave, but O’Leary held on to a slim lead and advanced by a score of 12.97 to 12.70.

With a 3rd place finish, David do Carmo obtained his best result this year on the Qualifying Series.

“I think I could’ve gotten the score on my last wave, but I bogged a rail and wasn’t able to do the kind of turn I had been doing all contest long,” said Do Carmo. “But I can’t get upset with my result. I’d been losing early in all the QS’s, so getting a 3rd here gives me a good confidence booster.”

After the QS 6,000 Red Nose Pro in Florianopolis and the QS 6,000 in Itacaré, the third and final event of the WSL South America Surf Series will take place from Nov 2-8 at Praia de Maresias for the Oi HD Sao Paulo Open of Surfing QS 10,000. Top surfers on the CT looking to requalify and the best surfers on the QS will battle it out as U$250,000 in prize money will be distributed and crucial ranking points will be up for grabs before heading to Hawaii for the final events of the 2015 Surfing Season.

Via: www.worldsurfleague.com

Semifinalists Decided at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival in Brazil

The lush tropical beach of Praia da Tiririca provided the back drop for Day 5 of the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival in Itacaré, Bahia. Sunny skies and waves in the 2-3 foot range (1 meter) were on hand as Rounds 4 and 5, in addition to the Quarterfinals were all completed on Saturday at the QS 6000.

Connor O’Leary (AUS) has been outstanding in his recent heats and has continued to post high scores in the excellent range. Facing up against Michael Wright (AUS) in Heat 7 of Round 5, O’Leary linked together three vertical snaps in the pocket on a righthander to earn the highest single wave score of the event, a blistering 9.57 (out of a possible 10 points). Wright followed with an 8.93 and a 7.77 for a 16.70 total. But O’Leary could not be outshined after collecting an 8.87 (even discarding an 8.50) for the highest heat total of the event as well, an 18.44.

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

“Yeah wow, that was a really tough heat with Mikey,” said O’Leary. “He’s one of the best up-and-coming surfers in Australia, not to mention the world. It was a really good heat and we both got good scores and the waves turned on for our heat. We’re good mates, we’ve been staying at the same hotels since Florianopolis. So we’ve been playing some card games and surfing a bit, so it’s heaps good.”

After defeating Wright, O’Leary maintained his lofty strike-rate and went on to overcome Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) in the Quarterfinals with a 9.07 and an 8.83 (17.90) against the 12.10 totaled by the South African.

With his result today, O’Leary took control of 10th place on the QS rankings and is currently eligible for qualification onto the 2016 Championship Tour. O’Leary remained modest when asked about his accomplishment.

” I’m not really too worried now,” declared O’Leary. “I’m just kind of doing my thing and we’ll see what happens from there.”

David do Carmo (BRA) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival David do Carmo (BRA) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

O’Leary will now face the only Brazilian surfer still left in competition at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, David do Carmo (BRA), who defeated Noe Mar McGonagle in Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals by a score of 12.90 to 11.90 respectively.

“I’m so happy with this win,” exclaimed Do Carmo. “I lost early on in Florianopolis with an interference call, but here I’ve been really letting my surfing do the talking. I’m stoked to be the last Brazilian still competing. This is going to be my best result of the year and now I’m going to do my best tomorrow (Sunday). I went up against some very hard competitors today. I knew the Costa Rican (McGonagle) surfs with a lot of power, so I tried to match him with strong backside turns and I ended up winning.”

On the other side of the heat draw, Heat 1 of the Semifinals will see the two highest ranked surfers on the QS still alive at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival face off against each other. Ryan Callinan (AUS) is currently in 7th place on the 2015 Qualifying Series, while Kanoa Igarashi (USA) sits in 6th and needs to win at Praia da Tiririca to obtain 23,350 points and guarantee his promotion to the CT next year.

Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) - Mahalo Surf Eco Festival Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) – Photo: Daniel Smorigo

Callinan began the day by beating Bruno Galini (BRA) in Round 5 by a score of 11.67 to 9.73, then defeated fellow countryman Soli Bailey (AUS) with a solid score of 15.24 to 13.17 in Heat 1 of the Quarterfinals.

“Yeah, I’m pretty stoked right now. I kind of had a meltdown in the heat before in the Round of 16. I felt like I could have had one then, so it felt really good to come back in the end and get some big scores and get through,” Callinan said. [When asked about 7th place on QS] “Yeah, I’m pretty stoked. I think I still need a bit more, maybe a win here to seal it. That’s what I’m aiming for. It’s good to be in the Top 10, but you never know what can happen in Hawaii.”

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

In Heat 4 of Round 5, Igarashi, the young surfer from California, merited high scores from the judges after demolishing the righthanders at Praia da Tiririca for an 8.90 and an 8.73 (17.63), eliminating Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) who obtained a 14.74 heat total. Then in Heat 2 of the Quarterfinals, Igarashi defeated Santiago Muniz (ARG) by a score of 15.50 to 12.47 respectively.

“Yeah for me I think Santiago (Muniz) was the in-form surfer of the event, along with Connor O’Leary,” said Igarashi. “I think I needed to get the best waves, and I think I did that. I did what I set out to do, so I’m stoked. This event has been really good to me. I got to the Quarters in Florianopolis and I’m in the Semis now here, so it’s been a really good leg for me so far and hopefully I can win this one.”

A call is set for 8 am local time on Sunday for completion of the WSL Men’s QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. A total of U$150,000 in prize money will be distributed. The winner will take home U$25,000 and 6,000 points that are valid towards their 2015 Qualifying Series ranking.

Via: www.worldsurfleague.com