Rangiroa showed its fickleness over the past two days of the Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro event window. After a lay day due to unfavorable winds and dropping swell, competitors picked up right where they left off on opening day despite the smaller, testy condtions.
A place into finals day awaited those who showed their grit throughout the day as they moved through Rounds 2 and 3. The day started with 32 competitors and is now down the final eight to see who will take their first Rangiroa event win when competition resumes.
Tyler Newton's Dream Run Continues
A battle unfolded early in Round 3 Heat 1, but Newton looked unstoppable once more as he took top honors over Marco Mignot, also advancing -- both posting an excellent number, meaning it was an 8.00 or higher. The Kauai, Hawaii, native garnered the event's highest heat total so far, a 15.43 (out of a possible 20) with impeccable forehand attacks. But, the work is not done yet for Newton as he sets his ambitions much higher.
"I was just being patient and wasn't going on too many waves that didn't look like they had potential," Newton said. "I think I've made the Quarterfinals once before in Northern Baja, but I want to keep it going. There's always the little things to work on. I got a little too excited on a few waves, but I like starting strong which I did in both of my heats today. If I can just find those strong starts and find excellent scores that's all I can do."
Ultimate Spoiler: Kainehe Hunt Ousts Remaining Tahitians
One of the day's biggest spoilers belonged to fellow Kauaian, Hunt, after a brilliant display in Round 3 ousted the remaining Tahitians Turo Ariitu and Mauiki Raioha. The 17-year-old continues to find his footing on the QS and is well on his way into the Quarterfinals alongside young, Maui, Hawaii, phenom Eli Hanneman. While Hunt towers over his fellow competitors, he's learned to incorporate that into his surfing and set himself up for success.
"This isn't the furthest I've gone, but it's up there with one of my best performances and I'm just trying to stay consistent," Hunt said. "You treat every heat like it's the first one and come in with the right game plan. Being taller out here actually helps a little bit because when you're caught inside on the reef, you can jump over the oncoming wave (laughs). But it also helps with carrying some power through my turns just having some extra weight."
Noa Mizuno Shows Patience Is A Virtue
Oahu, Hawaii,'s own Noa Mizuno came into this event as the No. 1 seeded surfer and has proven that in the water with three heat wins to his name in Rangiroa. The 20-year-old showcased a dominant backhand attack in his Round 2 and Round 3 bouts along with his patience -- earning the heat-winning 6.67 (out of a possible 10) on his final wave.
"It's tough out there and I think we got a really good window on the first day, but it deteriorated a bit unfortunately," Mizuno said. "I just try to enjoy myself. It's tricky, but there's plenty of waves like this back home so I try and visualize surfing back there. This already feels like home though and I'm comfortable here, it's a pretty stress-free lifestyle. I was hunting waves like I normally do, but I knew if I was patient the waves would come which they did at the end."
Danger Man Chris Foster
A big result has been a long time coming for Foster and it seems the winds are beginning to shift for the 29-year-old Hawaii competitor. Foster has a clean sweep so far heading into finals day and a big Round 3 win over Gavin Gillette, also advancing, an in-form Coconut Willie, and Robert Patterson.
"I just wanted to do this, really, for myself, I've been at it for a while now and I've had a bad streak," Foster said. "Hopefully I've got all the bad stuff away and all the good can come now. I'm just trying to stay positive most of the time. Everyone in this contest is really good and I finally got a little lucky so now I just want to keep that roll going. "
A 7:00 a.m. TAHT call will determine a possible start for Quarterfinal Heat 1. Tune in live when action resumes to see who takes down the 2019 Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro.