- WSL / Tony Heff

A finals day that will be etched in Hawaii's prominent surf history witnessed Moana Jones Wong and Eli Hanneman emerge victorious in firing conditions at the World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard, first stop of the 2022/23' Hawaii/Tahiti Qualifying Series (QS) season. Pristine, four-to-six foot finals day conditions provided a spectacle finish to competition that Jones Wong and Hanneman were able to capitalize on throughout their respective runs to the Final.

Watch: Moana Jones Wong Dominates Finals Day To Win Priority Destinations Pro
The Queen of Pipeline made it known that her high-performance surfing is on par with some of the region's top-tier competitors with a near-perfect Final.

From start to finish, Jones Wong looked unstoppable on her insurmountable forehand as she posted multiple 9-point rides on the way to her second-career QS victory. The North Shore surfer overpowered a formidable Final including former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Coco Ho, world-renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton, and emerging star Puamakamae Desoto - starting with a near-perfect 9.25 (out of a possible 10).

Jones Wong all but put the Final out of reach with her excellent 8.10 back up as DeSoto accrued a brilliant 15.35 heat total alongside Ho's 15.20. (Full interview in video above)

"I'm super stoked and Bowls is super special to me," said Wong. "My grandpa is born and raised right here, and surfed this wave every day when he was growing up. To win at my grandpa's favorite wave is the best thing ever."

Moana Jones Wong (HAW) Jones Wong's forehand attack went unmatched by contest's end. - WSL / Tony Heff

Jones Wong's Semifinal performance also notched her the best single-wave score of the women's event with a 9.65. Following her dream run through the winter with back-to-back Pipeline victories, she now solidifies herself as a dominant threat in Hawaii/Tahiti Nui as she starts the season ranked No. 1 where she left off at the end of the 2021/22' season.

Priority Destinations Pro: Eli Hanneman Breaks Through With Jaw-Dropping Win
Saving the best for last, Hanneman dropped two near-perfect scores courtesy of his aerial assault to take down a stacked Final.

Spectators witnessed a dominant ending to competition for Hanneman in stacked Final affair featuring event threats Jackson Bunch, Joshua Moniz, and Kai Martin. The Maui competitor took to a massive, full rotation aerial assault to stomping the landing for a near-perfect 9.25 in the opening minutes of the Final. Hanneman then added a 6.00 backup to put his opponents on the ropes early before Bunch, Moniz and Martin began fighting back - Bunch accruing an excellent score alongside Moniz.

But, Hanneman all but shut the door with his backhand attack, combined with another brilliant rotation for a 9.00 to earn the highest heat total of the event and his first-ever QS win. (Full interview in video above)

Tony Heff (HAW) From drifting the fins out to full blown rotations, Hanneman brought it all on finals day. - WSL / Tony Heff

"It's been a long time since I've won a contest and it feels nice. It felt good to out and do I what I do. Sometimes when you surf contest and heats it kind of suppresses you're capabilities, and you tend to hold back sometimes. It felt good to go out and put it all on the line.

Hanneman now returns to the Challenger Series for his shot of keeping this momentum alive heading into South Africa and qualification toward the CT.

Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) 16-year-old DeSoto showing power beyond her years and making her presence known. - WSL / Tony Heff

DeSoto's recent run of success between the amateur level at Ala Moana Bowls and representing Hawaii at the ISA World Junior Championships gave her all the confidence heading into the QS. The 16-year-old's forehand was sharp from her first heat until her last to earn a career-best runner-up. DeSoto battled with Wong in both her Semifinal and Final heat, besting former CT veteran Ho in the process as she moves forward ranked No. 2 in the region.

"I had a shocker on finals day in El Salvador (for ISA) so coming into this event I knew I could it if I just showed up and surfed, and was just myself and connect with the ocean," said DeSoto. "It was just a matter of doing that. Yesterday was so much, got two heat wins and today had two heats with Moana (Jones Wong). She got me in both of them but she was ripping and it's just so awesome to have the opportunity to be here."

Jackson Bunch (HAW) Bunch laying into one of his multiple excellent scores during a brilliant finals day run. - WSL / Tony Heff

Eventual runner-up Bunch made his presence known in a big way throughout finals day, accruing multiple excellent scores and near-perfect heat of 18.00 in the Semifinals. This marks a career-best result on the QS for Bunch after overcoming event threats such as Ian Gentil, Tanner Hendrickson, Billy Kemper and more. Hanneman's fellow Maui competitor now sits at No. 2 on the regional QS rankings with a strong foothold toward Challenger Series qualification early on.

"It was kind of hard not to just give it everything, the waves were just firing," said Bunch. "Had a close one in the Quarters and after that I knew I just had to wait on the best waves. There were plenty so it was easy to do that. I just want to do good in a couple contests and give myself a chance at the Challenger Series. That's my main goal so I'll give it my best run."

The next Hawaii/Tahiti Nui event on schedule will be the Sunset Pro QS 1000 beginning October 28 - November 6.

Magic Moving Day Dwindles Fields Ahead of Big Conclusion

Two-to-four foot swell continued to provide moments of brilliance at the Priority Destinations Pro pres. by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard as the men's Round of 64 was finished in its entirety before the women got their historic debuts underway to determine Semifinalists. Now, a 7:00 a.m. HST call will determine a possible start to an all-important finals day with 1,000 points on the line.

Watch: Moana Jones Wong's Statement-Making Debut At Priority Destinations Pro
The event presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard got its best performance from none other than the Queen of Pipeline with a 17.75.

After showing her dominance over both the QS and Championship Tour (CT) fields at Pipeline, earning wins at the HIC Pipe Pro and Billabong Pro Pipeline, Moana Jones Wong displayed her ability to unleash her forehand attack for a near-perfect 9.50 (out of a possible 10) and 17.75 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Both account for the highest of both men and women's competitions thus far as Erin Brooks found an excellent 8.25 to advance, but the North Shore competitor knows the work isn't done.

"It feels like a lot less pressure than doing the Challenger Series," said Wong. "I'm at home. It's free pretty much (laughs). I just feel way more relaxed and I really like it."

Puamakamae DeSoto Takes Over Priority Destinations Pro Debut
The 16-year-old put together a brilliant day of competition to earn two heat wins and move into the Semifinals.

Newcomer and event threat Puamakamae Desoto turned in two clutch victories to earn her spot into the Semifinals with a brilliant 15.50 heat total in her Quarterfinal bout with top-seeded competitor Keala Tomoda-Bannert and Round of 24 standout Eweleiula Wong. DeSoto took charge of the heat with her ferocious forehand as Wong overtook Bannert for the advancing position to eliminate her and Lucy Jarrard.

"I'm really stoked to get the win today and really grateful for the opportunity to surf at Bowls," said DeSoto. "It's been a beautiful day, it's a beautiful place and I'm stoked to see all the people back at competitions."

Coco Ho (HAW) Coco Ho made her presence known among emerging talents and showcased her experience for a Quarterfinal. - WSL / Tony Heff

Also advancing into the Semifinals, former CT competitor Coco Ho and world-renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton notched big wins as Brittany Penaroza and Rumor Star Butts also advanced to keep their event title hopes alive.

"It's so nice to come home and get some reps in in some familiar territory," said Ho. "This is a wave we don't get to spend a lot of time, especially the girls so this has been great. It's been great to get some heats in with some of the regional Hawaiian girls, a few of them just came up on my radar this year and they're dropping big scores so it's exciting."

Men's Field Dwindles to Round of 32
Shion Crawford Shines In Priority Destinations Pro Debut
The event presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard got kicked up a notch with near-perfection from the rising threat with a 17.50 heat total.

Adding his name to the list of emerging threats out of Hawaii, Shion Crawford made a jaw-dropping debut to garner an event-high 17.50 heat total and single-wave score of a 9.50. The teenager made his name known in Haleiwa during the Challenger Series, but Crawford's in no hurry to join the hunt toward Championship Tour (CT) qualification as he looks to continue building his surfing. (Full interview in video above)

"I'm not rushing to get onto the Challenger Series or anything so I'm just surfing contests, doing what I love," said Crawford. "I'll be stoked to do good here and make a name for myself. I'm just stoked to be surfing."

Priority Destinations Pro: Ezekiel Lau Lays Down Near-Perfection at Home
The first QS event at Ala Moana Bowls since 2016 turned on for South Shore's own Ezekiel Lau at the event pres. by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard.

Former CT elite and Ultimate Surfer winner Ezekiel Lau delivered near-perfection at a wave he knows all too well. The South Shore competitor earned a 9.10 and 17.00 heat total in an immaculate debut, bringing his experience to the table while enjoying the stress-free mentality of competition at home. Now, Lau joins a ready-and-able field into finals day for the Priority Destinations Pro event title. (Full interview in video above)

"This is my actual backyard, I live in town so it's only a five-minute drive to come surf a heat and that feels really good," said Lau. "I'm stoked to be competing at one of my favorite waves here at Ala Moana Bowls and it's a gift to be able to surf with no one out."

Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) QS veteran Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) reminding his fellow competitors he's still a force when wearing a jersey. - WSL / Tony Heff

QS veteran Kekoa Cazimero may not be chasing the CT dream anymore, but he relished on the opportunity to surf at his home break - earning an excellent 16.75 heat total in the process.

"It just feels so good to surf my home break, anytime there's waves you always want to hold it down for the boys," said Cazimero. "Personally for me, I have a lot of things going on with my own business Ava but it's important for me to do well in these events so I can continue to compete in my backyard. I love competing and surfing at home, there's nothing better."

Round of 64 wins also included the likes of top-seeded surfers Finn McGill, Eimeo Czermak, Ian Gentil, and Billy Kemper, along with event standouts Joshua Moniz, Kai Martin, Tanner Hendrickson, Thatcher Johnson, and former event finalist Noa Mizuno.

Event organizers will convene for a 7:00 a.m. HST call to confirm an 8:00 a.m. HST start for finals day.

The Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard will run on the best three days during the event event window beginning June 17 through 24 at Ala Moana Bowls.

Opening Day: Moniz Returns To The QS, Emerging Threats Stamp Authority

The World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard, a Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 got underway with electric performances unfolding in three-to-four foot. Men's Round of 96 ran in its entirety before Round of 64 Heats 1 - 4 closed out the day with early eliminations of event threats. Women's competition was called off for the day as a Monday, June 20, 7:00 a.m. HST call will determine a possible 8:00 a.m. HST start to men's Round of 64 Heat 5 before moving into women's Round of 24.

Priority Destinations Pro: Joshua Moniz Makes His QS Return
After a devastating injury that had Moniz questioning his return to surfing, he posted a 15.50 heat total in his Bowls debut.

In one of the most anticipated returns to the QS, Joshua Moniz debuted in stunning form to accrue a 15.50 (out of a possible 20) heat total on his dominant backhand. The 25-year-old suffered a devastating neck injury in Portugal last October and only recently got back in the water. Now, Moniz picks up right where he left off in contest surfing with two near-excellent scores and a renewed perspective. (Full interview in video above)

"You definitely don't' realize how great surfing is and can take it for granted," said Moniz. "It's surreal. I honestly wasn't expecting to ever compete again when it happened initially so just to be back in the water and enjoying it."

Eli Hanneman (HAW) Eli Hanneman made his mark in 2020 and now looks to bring that confidence to this season. - WSL / Tony Heff

Freesurf extraordinaire Eli Hanneman brought that flair into the jersey and matched Moniz's 15.50, notching a brilliant 8.75 (out of a possible 10), and helping eliminate reigning event victor Eli Olson in the process. Hanneman continues to find his footing in competitive surfing, notching two Final appearances in 2020 and now looks to earn a maiden QS victory here at Ala Moana Bowls.

"It feels really good to get off to a start like that," said Hanneman. "Last year we didn't know we were only going to have that one event so we weren't really ready for that. It's cool that this year we have a few more on schedule. Having a steady run of competitions again is great because it's hard to keep that momentum when you don't surf events. You don't necessarily lose it, but you lose that contest feeling and being in jersey while feeling that pressure so it's great to get it going."

Only Sheldon Paishon was able to best Hanneman for the day's top score in the final heat of the day with his backhand to earn a 8.90.

One of North Shore's chargers Shayden Pacarro showcased a dynamic forehand attack to garner an excellent 8.25 for a commanding start in his Round of 96 battle before his Round of 64 bout with top seeds and was eliminated by Maui's Cody Young and Kauai's Tyler Newton. Also winning their Round of 64 affairs, Sheldon Paishon and Eala Stewart overpowered their way into the Round of 32

Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) Six years later, Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) returned to the jersey in dominant form. - WSL / Tony Heff

The Round of 96 finished with a flurry from Kylen Yamakawa with a 15.10 heat total win as Kaimana Jaquias earned the advancing spot, eliminating higher-seeded competitor Michael O'Shaughnessy. Yamakawa recalled the last time this event ran, enjoying time with family and friends before his heat, and now looks to add more memories alongside some of the region's best.

"It was super fun going out there and surfing with all the boys," said Yamakawa. "It's been about six years since I've competed and have all our friends under the tents. I've got about ten coaches telling me what to do (laughs). Thank you to all the Ala Moana Bowl locals for letting us surf this wave, the WSL, and all the sponsors for putting this on."

Kai Martin Deals Out Excellence In Priority Destinations Pro Debut
The QS newcomer came out swinging to drop a 14.50 heat total and steal the show in the Round of 96.

QS newcomer Kai Martin is no stranger to the Ala Moana Bowls lineup and showed that experience in his Round of 96 debut with a 14.50 heat total, including an excellent 8.00. The rising threats of Hawaii/Tahiti Nui continued to show their presence in Round of 96 debuts with Hendrix Frankenreiter, Tony Nunez, Kai Paula, Diego Ferri, and more taking big wins alongside Diesel Storm Butts earning his way to the Round of 32.

"Definitely a good confidence builder, first heats are always the most nerve-wracking because you just want to get it out of the way," said Martin. "(This event) is really important to get that good start toward the rankings, always feels good and gives you that confidence going into the other events."

Event organizers will convene for a 7:00 a.m. HST call to confirm an 8:00 a.m. HST start for men's Round of 96 Heat 5.

The Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard will run on the best three days during the event event window beginning June 17 through 24 at Ala Moana Bowls.

World Surf League
Download it for free on the App store. Download it for free on Google Play.