Two Major Surfing Contests Just Wrapped. The first is the Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger.
John John Florence claimed victory at the World Surf League Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger. It was the final stop of the 2021 Challenger Series. Still, after overpowering XL swell at the iconic North Shore reef break along with Jack Robinson (AUS), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), and Samuel Pupo (BRA). A thrilling, action-packed Final. It was Florence’s ninth North Shore, Oahu victory in his career to tie the late 3X WSL Champion Andy Irons (HAW).
“I’m feeling good, really good, and it’s just so much fun being here and competing again,” said Florence. “After those injuries the last few years, it just feels good to be here. I just want to say thanks to my wife, my family, my whole team, and everyone who’s there supporting me. It’s been huge going through these last couple of years, and to be here winning again is awesome.”
An early start from Pupo got the attention of eventual winner Florence. The North Shore, Oahu surfer, unleashed an array of his signature power and progression on a wave at the midway point of the Final for a perfect 10. So, it had the crowd erupting in cheers and applause. The 29-year-old, 2X WSL Champion, wasn’t to be stopped – holding the highest single-wave score and heat total throughout the event – and placing all of the remaining finalists in a combination situation.
It was Jack Robinson’s first-ever Finals appearance on the hallowed grounds of Haleiwa, and he surged through the competition on his way to a runner-up finish. The 2021 CT Rookie will return to compete against the world’s best with renewed vigour following dominant performances at Haleiwa.
“That was a good run, and it was funny because John and I were in a paddle battle before he just turned and went on a wave,” said Robinson. “I think that put him in a good rhythm with those two waves, and I turned around thinking what just happened. But it was such a fun event and a good tune-up for next year. It’s funny. It’s been two years since I’ve qualified now, and everything here feels so different. Still, at the same time, it’s the same beautiful place, and I’m just excited to be back here.”
A third-place for Igarashi kept him atop the Challenger Series rankings to close the 2021 season as Pupo’s fourth-place notched a career-best in a major WSL event.
The Alaïa Open Winter Cup in Switzerland
Sion, Switzerland – The snow and rain stayed away. It was a beautiful and fresh day for the finals of the Alaïa Open Winter Cup finals at the Alaïa Bay wavepool facility. It was the first event of this magnitude to be held at the wavepool. To celebrate, the opening day saw light snowfall throughout most of the day’s competition.
It was top action all the way on finals day, as the surfers fought out some fierce battles to be in the cash and prizes. The day featured progressive surfing, some big aerial moves, and speed, power and flow scoring high from the judges.
Jamie Veselko was victorious in the Kids Division, beating Alejo Valedi and Fransisco into minor positions. In the junior Division, Kai Odrozola took the win from Hans Odriozola and Axel Domingues.
The Ladies Division was dominated by an experienced Maud Le Car, who beat dynamic Nadja Erostarbe Beiser into second and Lucia Martino into third place.
The Men’s Division saw the Brazilian contingent rise up for the win, with power surfer Pedro Menezes taking the win from fellow Brazilian Franklin Serpa. Justin Becret had a great day on the opening day at Alaïa Bay. Still, had to settle for third place in the finals.
Last week’s column right here