Tahiti celebrated a victory today at the Tama He‘e Classic Men's Longboard competition as Heifara Tahutini Jr. (PYF) took out veteran surfer Michel Demont (PYF) ten years after his father, Heifara Tahutini Senior, lost against Demont in the first ever OPT Tahiti Pro Longboard competition in 2007. Tahutini won in a show of patience and calculated talent and was chaired up the beach to the podium as fans and fellow surfers cheered in solidarity.
The man-on-man Final came down to Tahutini and Demont in small but buttery conditions at Papara for the World Surf League (WSL) Men's Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) 1,000 event.
While Demont took an early lead with a 6.67 on his opening ride, Tahutini stayed calm and waited for the set of the day to appear on the horizon and scored an 8.17 for a beautiful peeling right, backlit by the sun. Demont went left for a quick up and out then paddled to the lineup to secure a 6.70 backup, but Tahutini remained patient and caught another runner in the final minutes. With two hang fives and a hang ten, followed by a mini barrel, Tahutini cemented the win with a combined heat total of 14.67 over Demont's 13.37.
"It feels good, always a pleasure to surf in longboard and this kind of contest and meet all the guys from outside, and surf with all the guys from here," said Tahutini. "It's a big family, longboarding, and I am really happy about this win, this feeling."
Tahutini, 29, is a known competitor in the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region, however his longboard prowess was kept relatively quiet until today. Advancing in first from every round, Heifara cross-stepped his way to the Final and took out the powerfully talented Tereva David (PYF) in the Semifinals.
Tahutini was humble in his victory and expressed that the Hawaii surfers were not given the opportunity to showcase their capacity due to the small surf on offer. But while the Tahitian competes often in shortboard QS events, (most recently the QS1,000 at Ala Moana Bowls on Oahu last May) he favors longboarding for its fun, loose style.
"I prefer the longboard for sure because it's easy," said Tahutini. "I started with shortboard but after, just for pleasure, I longboard and now I'm good. Maybe I'll continue for the next contest, maybe I'll follow the best."
The highest placing Hawaiian, Makame DeSoto (HAW) saw a third place finish plus a fiery heat with nephew Micah DeSoto (HAW) in Quarterfinal 3. The two went head to head in one of the most competitive exchanges of the day and traded waves to start things off amicably. Micah nabbed the first ride of Quarterfinal 3, but didn't get a solid score until halfway through the heat when a set rolled through the lineup.
With competition in his blood, and a WSL Longboard World Champion as a father, (Duane DeSoto) Micah, 19, is eager to test his skills in the competitive realm. Nine years Makame's junior, Micah has only competed once before in a professional WSL event, but looks ahead at more longboarding in his future.
"This is my second event of many more, I'm definitely trying to push, trying to do the tour more," said Micah. "I did one event when I was about 15 and took a break after that. But I definitely want to start doing more contests and hopefully more contests open up for longboarders."
Uncle Makame nabbed a 7.50 for two noserides and a turn, the best ride of the heat, and advanced to the Semifinal with a combined two-wave total of 13.33.
The women were fiercely competitive at the Papara Pro Vahine Open today with a mix of regional and international surfers battling in clean 3-4ft. wave faces for the opportunity to win the region's first Women's Qualifying Series (QS) event of the year.
Vahine Fierro (PYF), one of Tahiti's top junior athletes took the morning off from school to compete and luckily advanced through two rounds for a slot into Semifinal 1.
"Right now normally I'm supposed to be at school," said Fierro. "So I'm going to go back to school right now and study until 3 and then come back and probably surf for 20 minutes tonight and then go back home."
With a Runner Up finish at last year's Papara Pro Vahine Junior, the local has a great read on the break and started the event off strong with good wave selection and multiple 7-point rides for two first place heat advancements. She went against rival Summer Macedo (HAW) in Round 3 and opened with a beautiful 6.17 on her backhand for an early lead.
St. Barthelemy surfer Tessa Thyssen caught up quickly with a 7.23 while Hawaii surfers Macedo and Leila Riccobuano tallied up rides for respectable two-wave totals. However, Fierro threw her 6.17 away after scoring a 7.90 and 7.33 on her two final waves and easily took the win with Thyssen advancing in second.
Macedo had the best wave of the day of both divisions, a 9.17 for multiple technical turns in Round 2, which also gave her the highest two-wave heat total, an impressive 16.17.
"I just stayed patient the whole heat," said Macedo. "I knew there was a few out there so I decided to wait and make sure I had priority when the one that I wanted came. I've been working on my combos and found the wave to try it out on."