The most in-form surfer of the Papara Pro Open, Dimitri Ouvre (BLM), absolutely stormed the competition today on a tear to the podium. In a very close Final against Matthew McGillivray (ZAF), Ouvre's talent in the punchy beach break solidified a higher ranking in the international World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) ratings.
The only professional surfer to represent the small Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy, Ouvre surfed from Round 1 of the competition all the way into the finals to take first place against an extremely talented field of international contenders.
"I was last entering, so I started in Round 1, I'm kind of tired," said Ouvre. "But I just wanted to have fun. I think it was just about having fun and just keeping my surfing simple. I didn't want to try stuff that I don't know. You have to keep it simple and you'll get the score you deserve. That was pretty much my strategy. Get the right ones, little rights. Not the big sets but obviously the smallest ones were the best."
At 24 years old, the islander has his sights set on making it into the QS10,000 events in the second half of the season, and after today's win he's one step closer. Ouvre is looking forward to winter in Hawaii: "The Triple Crown has always been a dream so now I will focus on that."
A perfect 10-point ride -- the only of the event -- went to McGillivray for two frontside air-reverses in a row. The South African was on fire and advanced in first throughout all three days of competition, starting off in Round 2.
"I've been working on my air-reverses tons at home," said McGillivray. "Today the wind was perfect for airs, it was blowing to the wave face. That wave had a bit of power so I managed to build up a nice bit of speed. I already had two scores so I just wanted to try and go for broke and get a better one."
In the Final, McGillivray had a good start with a 6.25 on his first wave to take an early lead. Dimitri raced to catch up after scoring a 5.25 and as the sun began to backlight the green waves of Papara, Ouvre scored a 7.75 to take the lead. McGillivray and Ouvre had a wave exchange that raised the bar, a 7.90 for Dimitri followed by a 7.60 by Matthew. Ultimately Dimitri found the scores needed to secure the win, a 15.65 over the South African's 13.85.
In an exciting heat to start the Quarterfinals, Papara Pro Open defending champ and Teahupo'o expert Taumata Puhetini (PYF) fell to the well-executed maneuvers of McGillivray. Puhetini had two excellent scores, an 8.10 and 7.30, and garnered applause from the beach crowd after attacking a massive floater. But the points were not enough to overtake the 18-year-old phenom from Jeffreys Bay.
The Semifinals saw surfers from four different countries -- South Africa, Australia, Tahiti and Saint Barthelemy -- clash for prime position into the Final. In a progressive power battle, McGillivray took down Shane Holmes (AUS) with big turns and keen wave knowledge. The teen was on a roll, posting the highest heat total of the event, a 17.75 to take down Holmes.
Enrique Turo Ariitu (PYF) edged our Rangiroa Open Pro runner-up Finn McGill (HAW) in the third Quarterfinal, securing his two best rides in the first half of the heat. McGill, 15, stayed busy throughout the 25-minute heat but failed to surpass Ariitu's combined wave score of 12.25.
The awards ceremony took place after the competition ended, and three winners were crowned: Papara Pro Open winner, Papara Pro Junior winner and Papara Vahine Pro Junior winner. Additionally, Vans donated $10,000 to the Federation Tahitienne de Surf to award top-placing Tahitians who are entered in upcoming Hawaii events. The money will help the local surfers travel to the Hawaiian archipelago for an opportunity to gain valuable regional ratings points.
The Vans travel award went to Enrique Turo Ariitu and Heifara Tahutini for their performance at the Rangiroa Open Pro; Manarii Varuamana for the Papara Pro Junior; Vahine Fierro for the Papara Vahine Pro Junior; and Taumata Puhetini and Jocelyn Poulou for the Papara Open Pro.