Poenaiki Raioha on Fire: SUP Surfing’s next World Champion?

Poenaiki Raioha F-ONE world champion app world tour
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If you know him, you respect him. F-ONE Team Rider Poenaiki Raioha, a fierce contender in any SUP surf contest, made an international name for himself with his powerful performance in last year’s APP World Tour.  This year, Poe has his eyes on the World Title.

Here is Standup Journal’s exclusive interview with the potential 2019 APP World Tour Champion, Poenaiki Raioha from Tahiti, French Polynesia.

F-ONE Poenaiki Raioha Haumaru Media Tahiti
Photo by Haumaru Media

Standup Journal:  Poe, what was your impression of last year’s APP World World Tour sites in Long Beach, New York and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria?

Poenaiki:  For me Long Beach was not really a success because the conditions were not there but I still tried to give everything to go as far as possible. I managed to reach the semifinal, luck was not on my side and I finished 3rd in the ranking of the first leg of Long Beach-NEW YORK. On the last day of the Gran Canaria Pro, when I saw the spot and the conditions, I immediately felt confident. The waves were really adapted to my surfing style and they were very consistent and present in all the series. I had the best waves and the best scores which allowed me to reach the final and win this competition.

Poenaiki Raioha Tahiti F-ONE world champ
Photo by: Haumaru Media

SJ: In the final stages of the competition in Gran Canaria, you got a perfect score of 10. Can you tell us about this wave? What techniques did you use? What did you think of this score?

Poenaiki: I did not think that I was going to be scored as a 10, but this wave allowed me to reach the final. My technique has always been the same since I started in competitions. I always take risks and bring as much power as possible in my maneuvers. For me, this score was a bit surprising because I thought I rode better waves in the previous series for which I had only 9 or 8 points.

Poenaiki Raioha F-ONE world champion app world tour
Photo by: Haumaru Media

SJ: This year, you’ve controlled the Sunset Beach Pro with an electrifying performance. What was your favorite moment of this event?

Poenaiki: The final ! Without hesitation ! It was a great moment of pride, and especially an honor to wear the colors of my Fenua until then.

SJ:  What do you think of your own surf right now? Do you have a plan for how you will train for your next event?

Poenaiki:  My style and my way of surfing does not change, because it defines me and it seems to please the judges. For my preparation, I would like to lose some more weight, so I plan to train even more during my crossfit training, but also to bike some more as well.

Poenaiki Raioha F-ONE friendship

SJ:  Which F-One board did you ride?

Poenaiki:  I ride a F-One “Anakao” 8’0 x 24. It’s a fast board and has a very good handling. It’s a board that can handle my weight well and is great in all conditions.

SJ: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Poenaiki: Michel Bourez. He is a humble man and of immense simplicity in spite of all his victories. For me, to be humble is an essential quality for a great sportsman.

SJ:  Where is your favorite wave for surfing the world?

Poenaiki: My favorite wave in the world is Sunset Beach, it’s a big wave, long and powerful.

Poenaiki Raioha F-ONE world champion air time
Photo by: Haumaru Media

SJ:  Which of the events of the 2019 APP World Tour: Sunset, New York, Barbados or Gran Canaria are you looking forward to and why?

Poenaiki: The stops I look forward to are Barbados and Gran Canaria because the waves are often of a good height that I could more easily exploit. While for the New York stop I think the conditions will be a bit more difficult for me.

SJ:  What can you say to beginners who aspire to be as good as you in the surf? What advice can you give them?

Poenaiki: Always keep your motivation high and never let anything go. You have to know how to persevere and never back down behind a beautiful and big wave. Those are the ones that will make you progress.

Poenaiki Raioha F-ONE off the lip Brian Dorr photo
Poenaiki drives off the lip at the Santa Cruz Paddefest in California. Photo by: Brian Dorr

SJ:  Who would you like to thank?

Poenaiki: First of all I would like to thank all my big family, especially my grandfather, my dad, who are always behind me. Thank you to my girlfriend.

A big thank you to all my sponsors, F-One, Manera, Air Tahiti Nui, International Virus, Crossfit Varua, The Tahiti V Room, Surf and SUP Ply, Heiva Cosmetics and finally the Relais de la Maroto, without whom I would never have reached this level.

Thank you all for supporting me!

Aloha Poenaiki!  Thank YOU.


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.