- WSL / Tony Heff

Today, Nora Liotta and Shion Crawford claimed their maiden World Surf League (WSL) victories at The Hawaiian Islands Present the Sunset Pro, a Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, over formidable fields. Four-to-six foot waves provided moments of magic throughout Finals Day that witnessed Liotta and Crawford capitalize on opportunities, and hold their compusre under pressure. A runner-up performance from Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) kept her atop the rankings as Mihimana Braye's (FRA) Finals Day run garnered a runner-up finish and now places him as Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1.

Nora Liotta Claims First-Ever QS Win At The Hawaiian Islands Present The Sunset Pro
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The Maui, Hawaii, contender Nora Liotta earned a well-deserved, breakthrough victory among her fellow Qualifying Series contingent at Sunset Beach. The win pushes Liotta to No. 4 on the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui rankings heading into the U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro beginning November 10 - 12.

A big conclusion to women's competition awaited featuring Hawaii/Tahiti No. 1 Keala Tomoda-Bannert, Challenger Series standout Eweleiula Wong, 2022 event runner-up Nora Liotta, and rising threat Haylee Boverman. Liotta stole the opening exchange with a 7.50 (out of a possible 10) with Wong earning a 5.65 to stay within reach. But, Liotta's 5.00 extended her lead ahead of the Final contingent as Tomoda-Bannert worked her way back into the heat to accrue an 11.50 (out of a possible 20) heat total heading into final minutes. But, Liotta held firm and earned her first-ever WSL victory to garner 1,000 valuable points.

"It feels so good and I love this wave," said Liotta. "I feel really good taking my first win near home. I've had a really tough year. I competed in some Challenger Series events and I didn't do too well so this is a really big confidence booster that I really needed. It took a lot of training at home, working on my heat surfing, and one of my goals is to now qualify for the 2024 Challenger Series."

Maui, Hawaii's, own Liotta started the day with an advancing position behind Tomoda-Bannert in their Semifinal bout to start their respective Finals Day surges. Liotta's Quarterfinal victory on opening day helped kickstart her run atop the podium and now moves to No. 4 on the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui rankings.

Shion Crawford Notches Maiden QS Win At The Hawaiian Islands Present The Sunset Pro
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Haleiwa's own Shion Crawford claimed his maiden WSL win in home waters over a stacked field of competition. The win moves Crawford to No. 2 on the rankings ahead of The Hawaiian Islands HIC Haleiwa Pro beginning November 26 - December 7.

The men's Final included some of the region's 2023 standouts including reigning Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Jackson Bunch, recent Corona Saquarema Pro Challenger Series finalist Mihimana Braye, rising threat Shion Crawford, and fellow emerging talent Diego Ferri. A slow start to the bout then gave way to Crawford's powerful forehand putting on a display for a 7.25. Braye wasn't far behind, posting a 6.00 of his own before Crawford answered back with a 6.00 to push himself further into the lead, recreating a Saquarema Quarterfinal battle between the two. Braye was able to find a 6.60 heading into the final minutes, but Crawford maintained composure with priority and held his lead until the end, solidifying his maiden WSL win.

"It feels really good and I'm just super stoked, kind of speechless right now," said Crawford. "Everything hasn't really hit yet and it's just now starting to sink in that I realy did win. Our bracket was pretty stacked and I just needed to do my surfing. I'm pretty confident right now and I believe I could win [Haleiwa] too, and I believe in myself so much now."

The North Shore's own, Crawford now moves to No. 2 on the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui rankings after a flawless run through The Hawaiian Islands Present the Sunset Pro, not losing a single heat throughout the event. Crawford's Finals Day surge began with a Round of 32 victory before posting some of the day's best heat totals en route to the Final. Now, Crawford looks to maintain his position heading to his home break of Haleiwa beginning November 26 - December 7.

Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) remains at No. 1 on the regional rankings after a second Finals appearance in 2023/2024. - WSL / Tony Heff
Tomoda-Bannert and Braye Lead Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Rankings Leaving Sunset Beach

Another impressive event for Tomoda-Bannert witnessed her overpower fellow contenders toward a third-straight Finals Day, her second Finals appearance of the 2023/2024 year. Tomoda-Bannert nearly earned her second win of the season and fell just short to Liotta after besting the Maui competitor in their Semifinal, Heat 1 clash. Kauai's own, Tomoda-Bannert, now sets her eyes on the U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro before heading back to Hawaii to conclude the women's season at The Hawaiian Islands HIC Haleiwa Pro.

"I just don't want to be satisfied with these results, and I'm hungry to get more wins," said Tomoda-Bannert. "Heading into the Super Girl, I want to take the win there and I feel very mentally and physically ready for it. This year, I'm not looking to just qualify for the Challenger Series, I want to win the region and so far I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of that but I want to keep it going."

Mihimana Braye (FRA) Mihimana Braye - WSL / Tony Heff

One of Tahiti's prominent competitors, Braye, stormed through Finals Day on his march toward a runner-up finish. Braye earned the day's highest heat total, a 14.95, in his Semifinal, Heat 2, battle with eventual fourth-place finisher Ferri, multiple event victor Billy Kemper (HAW), and Hawaii/Tahiti standout Joshua Moniz (HAW). After a runner-up in Saquarema, Braye brought that confidence to Sunset Beach and now sits at No. 1 on the regional rankings.

"this has been one of the best run's of my life in competitive surfing so far after getting my best result in Brazil and it felt good carrying that same rhythm here," said Braye. "Sunset is a tricky wave on your backhand and to be the only Tahitian here, and make the Final, I'm very stoked. I'm just trying to keep my momentum moving forward and I want to try and qualify for both the Olympics and the Championship Tour. I'm going to make it happen."

For the women, the U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro gets underway in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, beginning November 10 - 12 before rejoining the men's QS 2023/2024 season at The Hawaiian Islands HIC Haleiwa Pro beginning November 26 - December 7.

Rising Contenders Flourish Alongside World-Class Competitors

Top seeds made their stunning debuts at The Hawaiian Islands Present the Sunset Pro, a Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, to raise the bar of competition in four-to-five foot waves at Sunset Point. Men's Round of 96, Heats 13 - 16, and Round of 64 were finished in their entirety with women's competition called OFF for the day. Competition has been called OFF for Tuesday, October 31, and event organizers will reconvene to determine a possible start for Wednesday, November 1.

Shion Crawford (HAW) Shion Crawford (HAW) made his presence felt with goals set on a maiden QS win. - WSL / Tony Heff

The Hawaii/Tahiti Nui's newest competitive threats put on a showcase led by one of North Shore's standouts, Shion Crawford. Crawford's dynamic and powerful forehand earned an event-best, single-wave score so far of a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) and 15.50 (out of possible 20) heat total. Haleiwa's own, Crawford, now eyes down a big Finals Day to push himself up the rankings early in the season.

"I just had to choose the right waves and that wave just came right to me, and just wanted to surf it to my best," said Crawford. "It feels good to be back home and get on a good program. My goals are to win this event and take that into Haleiwa to try and win there too. I learned a lot on the Challenger Series from my losses and that good result in Brazil to finish on, and just to believe in myself and that I can make heats."

Crawford's fellow North Shore standout, Finn McGill, surged into the Round of 32 with a 15.10 heat total of his own in an impressive debut.

Jackson Bunch (HAW) Jackson Bunch (HAW) brought his talent to the world on the 2023 Challenge Series and now looks to return with a big result near home. - WSL / Tony Heff

Joining Crawford on the Challenger Series earlier this year and making noise of his own, Jackson Bunch represented for Maui in stunning form. Maui's own, Bunch, earned the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui QS Regional Title after his first-ever QS win in Rangiroa, Tahiti, and looks to continue building his young career with more success.

"It's a bit tricky but it's really nice with no wind on it and a pretty fun size where you can go to Sunset Point or the wide bowl," said Bunch. "I got the really good wave at the point and then I moved to the middle. I had a rough event at Ala Moana Bowls and so I'm stoked to show some good surfing here, as well as take it to Haleiwa. I just want to surf good and get back on the Challenger Series since I missed it by three spots."

Barron Mamiya (HAW) Multiple Sunset Beach victor Barron Mamiya (HAW) is back for more ahead of the 2024 CT season. - WSL / Tony Heff

2024 Championship Tour Competitors Thrive

Alongside Hawaii/Tahiti Nui's rising contenders clashing with proven competitors, some of the region's Championship Tour (CT) elite stepped into the Sunset Beach arena and put on a showcase. Defending event winner, multiple Sunset Beach victor, Barron Mamiya and fellow CT competitor Seth Moniz both earned debut heat wins.

"It's nice to be back home and surfing Sunset, hopefully get some waves for Finals Day but I'm just stoked to be out there with the jersey back on," said Mamiya. "There's not too much pressure being a defending winner, I'm just having fun and working on a few things to better my surfing. I'm just trying to stay healthy and try to win this event and Haleiwa, not trying to over surf or anything, but I want to do good in these events."

Seth Moniz (HAW) Seth Moniz (HAW) may have his goals on the 2024 CT, but he's hungry for a win of his own among the stout QS contenders. - WSL / Tony Heff

"I'm stoked to be at home and surfing an event, this event means a lot to the up-and-coming kids trying to qualify for the Challenger Series," said Moniz. "It's a really important event and as I'm competing with a lot of them, I'm rooting for them too to get on the Challenger Series and get some more Hawaiians on Tour. I've had a break and now it's good to stay warm, and take it seriously because there's some good competition here."

Moniz is joined into the Round of 32 with both of his brothers after their debut heat wins including current Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Isaiah Moniz and QS veteran Joshua Moniz.

Also earring their way into the Round of 32 with big heat wins are multiple Sunset Beach victor, and multiple WSL Big Wave World Champion, Billy Kemper, QS veterans Shayden Pacarro and Sheldon Paishon, former event victor Cody Young, rising threats Kai Martin, Diego Ferri, Kai Paula, and Robert Grilho.

Competition has been called OFF for Tuesday, October 31. Event organizers will reconvene to make a call Wednesday, November 1, at 7:00 a.m. HST.

Standard Set on Opening Day

Opening day is in the books at The Hawaiian Islands Present the Sunset Pro, a Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 event. The women surged in the four-to-six foot waves on offer with light winds to finish their Round of 24 and Quarterfinal bouts. The men followed with Round of 96, Heats 1-12, battles to start setting up all-important Round of 64 match-ups when competition resumes.

Nora Liotta (HAW) Nora Liotta (HAW) all smiles after making her way into the Semifinals. - WSL / Tony Heff

The women's Quarterfinals kicked off with an exciting come-from-behind heat win by Nora Liotta, finding a last-minute score to jump from last to first, win the heat, and advance ahead of defending event champion and Championship Tour (CT) No. 9 Gabriela Bryan. Liotta continues to show she's one of the region's top threats and looks to secure a major victory in the 2023/2024 season.

"I didn't know what scores I had, and I saw a few girls catch some good waves," said Liotta. "It was definitely a relief walking up the beach and hearing that I made it. Those were a lot of good surfers in my heat."

Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) Current Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) pushed the pace once more. - WSL / Tony Heff

Also through to the Semifinals is Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1 Keala Tomoda-Bannert, advancing through along with Puamakamae DeSoto. Tomoda-Bannert continues her outstanding 2023/2024 season, having already won the Local Motion Surf Into Summer Regional QS 1,000 at Ala Moana Bowls, and finishing equal-third at the co-sanctioned Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro QS 3,000.

"I'm just trying to keep the flow going and definitely had a lot more confidence after the Bowls win, and then the third place in Super Girl," said Tomoda-Bannert. "For me, I feel like at Sunset no matter what you just gotta keep busy. Catch a wave if there's a wave in front of you and just go for it."

Eweleiula Wong (HAW) Challenger Series threat Eweleiula Wong (HAW) is back and feeling right at home. - WSL / Tony Heff

Despite a slow start to her heat, current Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 5 Eweleiula Wong found two of the better waves on offer to advance on to the Semifinals. Wong looks for her chance to rejoin the Challenger Series contenders and stay atop the regional rankings for that opportunity.

"I'm really excited for the rest of the event," said Wong. "The conditions are a little bit tricky out there, but happy to make it through. My goal for this event is to win, and hopefully to requalify for Challenger."

PIPELINE, UNITED STATES- JANUARY 29: Eala Stewart of Hawaii advances to Round 3 of the 2020 Volcom Pipe Pro after placing first in Heat 8 at Pipeline, Haleiwa on January 29, 2020 in Hawaii, USA. (Photo by Keoki Saguibo/WSL via Getty Images) Eala Stewart (HAW) laid down on of the day's best performances in his Round of 96 debut. - WSL / Keoki Saguibo

Following women's opening rounds, the men got their competiton underway to determine their first eliminations. One of Hawaii/Tahiti Nui's mainstays, Eala Stewart, continues to show his style and power in the jersey and posted the day's highest single-wave score of a 7.25 (out of a possible 10). The South Shore's own looks to keep his momentum going in the jersey and eyes on the winter season ahead.

"Some of my goals this winter is to have a beautiful winter and just stay healthy and happy," said Stewart. "Everyone's saying it should be El NiƱo and a lot of crazy swell. It's been a good start so far and any contest I can get into I'll be stoked to do my best. I'm just grateful to be home."

Also joining Stewart into the Round of 64, Kane Turalde, Branden Defilippo, Shayden Pacarro, Tiger Abubo, Chase Burnes, Rylan Beavers, Merrik Mochkatel, Kalanoweo Desoto, Logan Bediamol, and Nalu Deodato, all earned impressive debut heat wins.

Event organizers will reconvene for a 7:00 a.m. HST call for a possible 8:00 a.m. HST start.

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