- WSL / Tim Hain

Japanese duo Sara Wakita (JPN) and Tenshi Iwami (JPN) have claimed victories at the inaugural Tamil Nadu International Surf Open World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event. It was a historic day of competition as the pair overcame a huge international field to win the first-ever WSL event in India as Mahabalipuram Beach turned on pumping three-foot surf for Finals Day.

Tenshi Iwami Tenshi Iwami - WSL / Tim Hain

Tenshi Iwami (JPN) came into the Tamil Nadu International Surf Open in desperate need of a big result as he looks to qualify for the 2024 WSL Challenger Series. He looked to be in good form all event but needed to overcome an impressive Kian Martin (SWE) in the Final. Martin got busy early, posting a number of mid-range scores while Iwami seemed out of rhythm, taking bad waves and falling. The Final seemed to be going Martin's way until in the dying seconds, Iwami found a set wave with priority and went to town, smashing multiple frontside turns to earn an 8.75 (out of a possible 10, and take the lead, winning the heat with a two-wave total of 16.30 (out of a possible 20), which was the highest single wave and two-wave combination of the entire event. As well as claiming the biggest win of his career, Iwami has rocketed up the WSL Asia Regional Rankins to sit in third spot.

"Even though I was behind and needed that big score of 8.00, I knew if I got the wave I could do it," Iwami said. "So when I was out there with Kian and I saw that two-wave set coming, I said please Kian, go go go, as I thought the second one would be the best - and then I just went. It's like I was on pure instinct, as I don't really remember it all. Waiting on the inside, I was so excited when I heard that I got the score. This is my first QS win, so I'll always remember this. I love being here in India, the waves, the people, the food and the culture, it has been really great."

Tenshi Iwami Tenshi Iwami - WSL / Tim Hain

Sara Wakita (JPN) had her work cut out for her in the women's Final as she took on one of the form surfers of the event Shino Matsuda (JPN) who had been impressing the judges all week with her super quick back-hand attack. Both women went wave for wave, each posting mid-range scores but it was Wakita and her stylish frontside technique that found a rhythm, posting a 13.50 two-wave total to take the lead. Matsuda was able to post the highest single wave of the matchup with an 8.10 but was unable to back it up leaving Wakita to claim the win and move into third spot on the WSL Asia Regional Rankings.

"That was a really tough final, but I was expecting it with Shino, as we've been rivals since we started surfing," Wakita said. "We're the same age and I'm stoked to have a final with her. We were trading waves and both got good scores, all during the final. To be here and come away with a win here in India is awesome as it's a historical first-ever WSL to be held here. It's been great being here and having a new experience, thanks India."

Sara Wakita Sara Wakita - WSL / Tim Hain

Arun Vasu, President of the India Surf Federation shared his excitement of seeing Finals Day wrap and such a highly anticipated event for surfers in India.

"That was such an exciting final, and I almost can't believe that after watching so many WSL finals on the internet, we actually had one here at our own home break," Vasu said. "It's just incredible to be hosting this event and seeing all the competitors from all these countries here in front of us. It's been a fantastic event and a fantastic week. This has been amazing exposure and experience for Indian surfing and the Indian surfers themselves, and I'm sure this will inspire them to progress and others to get involved in surfing. I want to thank the Tamil Nadu government, the WSL, the SFI team and the Tamil Nadu Surfing Association and the whole Surf Turf team for their dedication and support in making this happen."

Sara Wakita Sara Wakita - WSL / Tim Hain

The inaugural Tamil Nadu International Surf Open ran from August 14 - 20, 2023.

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