Stop No. 9 on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) came to a thrilling conclusion this twesday, 11 October 2016.
After the win of Hawaian Carissa Moore, on the Roxy Pro France, defeating the world Champion Tyler Wright, it was the time of an Hawaian, Keanu Asing, take down defending event winner and 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the Quiksilver Pro France Final to claim his maiden Championship Tour win and leap up thirteen places to 21st on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I’m stoked and this is a dream come true,” said Asing. “The work’s not done yet but I hope I did something good for John (Florence) maybe and helped him with the title race. I’m over the moon -- it’s so surreal. I’m super happy and I feel like I’m dreaming right now. I’m stoked to see my other Hawaiian competitor and childhood friend, Carissa (Moore), also win. I’ve never even made a QS (Qualifying Series) final so this is crazy. Having all my friends on the beach is even more ridiculously unbelievable.” “Every time I put on a jersey it’s to do one thing and that’s to win,” continued Asing. “The last time I won a contest is probably when I was a junior so it’s crazy to come here and win my first CT event. Competing with Kolohe (Andino), and John and Gabby (Medina) and all these guys is unbelievable. The competitive spirit that we all have and share is over the moon and really pushes me hard.”
The young Hawaiian unleashed forceful backhand maneuvers to put pressure on the Brazilian powerhouse. With five minutes left, Asing put Medina in a combination situation to challenge Medina to turn in two new scores. A 5.90 on Medina’s eleventh exchange bettered his situation, only requiring an 8.04 to counter. An interference penalty called on Medina in the last minute disqualified one of his wave scores, solidifying Asing’s win.
“I love France -- it’s been a good place for me,” said Medina. “I’m happy with second, I would be more happy if I won but I think second is good. It’s been a good warm up for Portugal. Congrats to Carissa (Moore) and Keanu (Asing). I know the feeling to win your first event so I think he’s really happy right now. They both deserve it and of course Tyler (Wright). I feel very proud of her and I know Owen (Wright) must be very proud too. It feels good to be closer to John John (Florence) so -- never give up!”
The all-Hawaiian Semifinal matchup witnessed a heated battle between John John Florence (HAW) and eventual winner Asing. With an opportunity to strengthen his World Title campaign for Florence, and requalification on the line for Asing, both surfers charged through the heat with excellent rides. Asing barely edged out Florence by 0.87 with his 16.94 combined heat score. Florence’s run in France will end with an Equal 3rd place finish and while the Hawaiian keeps retains pole position on the Jeep Leaderboard, the gap has now shrunk to only 2,700 points between him and Medina.
Kolohe Andino (USA) couldn’t quite rival Medina’s flair on the lefts of Guardians, and despite excellent efforts on multiple waves, ended his Semifinal in a combination situation. Currently in his best season amongst the Elite Top 34, the Californian claims an Equal 3rd place and the allocated 6,500 ranking points to move up to 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard.
“I’m stoked, I think I’m fifth now and I hope I can stay up over that range for a good seeding next year,” Andino said. “I definitely would have liked to have won an event, but two more left so I’ll see what I can do. Surfing is a unique sport, I think the final day has got to be your day, today’s was Keanu (Asing). I felt like I was surfing my best but I had a hard time finding good waves through that heat. I’ve never really done well at Pipe so this year I want to prove to myself that I can, so that if next year I’m in the title race I’ll be able to bank off that.”
The next stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour for the men will be the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal from October 18 - 29, 2016 while the women will culminate their season with the Maui Women’s Pro from November 23 - December 5, 2016.
*Caption: Carissa Moore (HAW) claimed victory at the Roxy Pro France after defeating Tyler Wright (AUS) in the Final.
Image: © WSL / Poullenot