Gabriela Bryan (HAW) earned the first perfect 10-point ride of the Papara Pro Vahine Open Tahiti, a QS 1,000 event, for committed, above-the-lip power surfing today in the women's first Quarterfinal. Bryan was in a league of her own while the men's division showcased equally high-performance surfing with the man-on-man Quarterfinal heats set for a final day tomorrow.
Bryan, who placed runner-up at the Papara Pro Vahine Junior days ago and won the Sunset Pro Junior in January, had a flawless approach today and utilized priority with calculation. The wave set up perfectly for multiple maneuvers and she unanimously wowed the judges with high-level, seamless surfing.
"I had first priority on that and I needed to better a 7," Bryan said post-heat. "Taking off, the wave looked like it was going to double-up pretty well and to better a 7 you kind of just need to put everything into every turn and that's what I did. I had a pretty critical last section and I ended up making it, so I was pretty stoked."
Hailing from Kilauea, Kauai, Bryan, 15, has grown up surfing the powerful Hawaiian surf and attributes this to her steadfast style.
"On Kauai there's so many gnarly waves that you just have to go out of your comfort zone and just give it your best, all while being safe," she continued. "It definitely helps (being from Kauai) because you always are going to have to push the limits."
Another notable performance from the women's division came from Papeno‘o's Karelle Poppke (PYF), niece and surf student to Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF), who had a standout performance in the Men's Round 1 yesterday. Poppke had a commanding vertical backside attack and tallied an excellent 9.0 in the second Quarterfinal to eliminate Kelta O'Rourke (HAW) from competition. Poppke, 20, also had the highest two-wave total of the day in the women's division, a 17.80.
"The waves were pumping and really good," Poppke said. "I just surf and have fun. It's a challenge (going against the Hawaii athletes) because I know they have really good surf and I just want to prove my surfing. I'm just staying focused on my goal to win this contest and have fun in the water."
A Tahitian power heat kept the beach abuzz with excitement when Taumata Puhetini, Vehiatua Prunier, Hira Teriinatoofa and Eliott Napias battled in the final exchange of the Men's Round 3. Completely in command of the wave, Puhetini was a force of precision and poise and nailed multiple excellent rides, including a 9.50 for a long right-handed wall that provided the opportunity for a series of forehand attacks, capped off with a critical floater that landed him basically on the beach. Puhetini scored a combined heat total of 18.00, the highest in the competition.
"I feel pretty good, the waves are good today, some good lefts and rights and I found two good scores, I'm stoked," said Puhetini. "I feel confident for tomorrow because I got that 9 and that 8, I surfed pretty good, my boards are good, I feel good and ready for tomorrow."
Puhetini last competed in the 2017 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu's North Shore, however cites financial reasons for not traveling or competing in 2018; the Papara Pro Men's QS 1,000 is his first event of the year. When he is not surfing, Puhetini works as a local butcher in Fa‘a‘a and Papeete and hopes to travel back to Hawaii for the highly-anticipated winter surf season this year.
2016 Regional Junior Champion and technically polished goofy-footer, Noa Mizuno (HAW) advanced through two rounds today despite feeling under the weather.
"I woke up this morning a little sick so I'm just trying to preserve energy for tomorrow," he said. "It seemed like I was trying to go through the motions, but guess I was getting bigger scores for those corner rights. But I was feeling good and my board feels really good, I can't wait for tomorrow."
Mizuno complimented an all-Hawaii heat in Round 3, including Ocean Macedo and Logan Bediamol of Maui and Michael O'Shaughnessy from the Big Island. Macedo advanced behind Mizuno with a 15.60 combined heat total, however Mizuno scored the best ride of the 25-minute heat, an 8.40 for textbook technique.
"Today is good because there's a lot of waves and you can roll the dice a lot," Mizuno continued. "I don't know how many waves I caught, I think probably either 8 or 9 in that last heat so just more chances to get the score. It was fun."
Defending event winner Ariihoe Tefaafana (PYF) stream rolled through Rounds 2 and 3 today and tallied two heat wins and multiple excellent scores including a 9.0. His consistent surfing and calculated forehand attack garnered a spot into the Quarterfinals, where he will meet Vehiatua Prunier (PYF) in a man-on-man clash.