The Gran Canaria ProAm, 4th & Final Event of the 2019 APP World Tour, delivers incredible waves and performances last weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The powerful Tahitian Poenaiki Raioha wraps up 2019 season winning his first APP World Title.
Gran Canaria ProAm: A Weekend of Powerful Waves and Incredible Performance in Las Palmas
After completing the early rounds of competition at La Cicer in Las Palmas under solid 6-foot wave conditions, local organizers Björn Dunkerbeck of SUP Gran Canaria and the APP World Tour crew moved the event site, including judges booth and media tower, to the reef break at El Lloret. El Loret delivered solid swell and pristine conditions for the final days of competition.
Saturday morning, El Loret awakened for the final rounds with 8-10 foot reeling right handers peeling along the reef for more than 300 meters in soft, offshore winds. Rounds 3 and 4 for both Men and Women launched at 9AM with frothing riders happy to see El Loret come alive again. Spectators witnessed the best SUP surfers in the world put on a show with impressive surfing style and bold, powerful maneuvers.
Formidable Talent: Marching Toward a World Title
In one fiery exchange, the 2012 World Champion from Brazil Leco Salazar put his A-game to the test against Hawaïi’s formidable talent of Mo Freitas. Salazar’s sharp and powerful backside surfing worked to his advantage in getting his ticket stamped to go to the quarter finals. Tahitian Poenaiki Raioha, impressed spectators with a massive demonstration of talent for the weekend crowd at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to secure his qualification for the next round. 2018 World Champion 2018 Sean Poynter from the United States, Spain’s Guillermo Robello, Brazil’s powerhouse Luis Diniz and the fiery Wellington Reis along with France’s ISA World Champion Benoit Carpentier and teammate Clément Roseyro also won their respective heats to have the privilege to surf on the final day.
Final Event: Two Champions Crowned in Perfect Waves
The swell size remained consistent for the Final day of competition at El Loret. Competitors awoke to clean offshore winds and quality waves at the famous right-hand break in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for the culmination of the Gran Canaria ProAm. Poenaiki Raioha was first into the action in Round 1 and launched himself one step closer to a World Title by defeating the young goofy footer Roseyro. The Brazilian powerhouses of Wellington Reis, Leco Salazar and Luis Diniz continued their respective roads toward the final, each with incredible backside demonstrations that put Poynter, Carpentier and Robello out of the competition.
The contest rolled straight into the Semi Finals on Sunday with one of the most competitive heats ever witnessed on the APP World Tour when Poenaiki Raioha and Wellington Reis traded waves in a blow-for-blow performance which brought the crowd to its feet. Raioha, despite having a 9.4 opening wave score on this ticket, was unable to get past the local rider from Sao Paulo, Wellington Reiss who put forth a mind blowing performance. This elimination meant that the Title Race between Diniz and Raioha would march forward to the Final Rounds.
Fortunately for the young Tahitian, he didn’t have to wait long, as a late surge from Santos local Leco Salazar knocked out fellow Brazilian Diniz to secure his berth in the Final. This elimination of Diniz was the deciding factor in the rankings, giving the well deserved 2019 APP World Title to Poenaiki. After several near misses in recent years, the stars finally aligned and Poenaiki Raioha is sitting on top of the World. The full crowd in front of El Lloret celebrated the moment with great laughter and ample good cheer for the new champion. It was a very emotional moment for the young Tahitian as he let the pressure go and went to his grandfather’s arms in tears. After nine years on the tour with a first appearance at thirteen-years-old at the legendary Sapinus Pro, Poenaïki Raioha reached his goal by clinching the APP World Title.
The competition was not yet over as the ProAm Final Round promised to be promising between two talented and feroicioius Brazilian SUP surfers. This last heat of the Pro Surfing competition was launched in pumping conditions. From beginning to end, Wellington Reis put on a performance for the ages, posting a perfect 10 and a 9.4 to dominate his battle against Leco Salazar and capture his first well deserved APP event victory with some brilliant surfing. It was victory to be relished for the talented Brazilian who finished his successful season with a 2nd place Overall in the APP World Tour rankings for 2019. He has now set his sights on the 2020 World Title!
Iballa Moreno: Queen of the Peak at Gran Canaria
2018 APP World Champion Iballa Moreno, after a slow start to her season, came roaring back in the November Barbados Pro event on the APP World Tour finishing in 3rd place. Iballa is certainly one of the favorites for this last event on the Tour in her home turf of Gran Canaria. Those who were present last year at her World Title win, still remember her powerful level of surfing at El Lloret where she dominated the break in the presence of her family and friends. Iballa put forth stellar performances throughout the rounds at the Gran Canaria ProAm with formidable scores. After a win in Round 3 against her friend Shakira Westdorp followed by a solid semi-final against the talented young Peruvian Vania Torres, Moreno took her spot in the final where she challenged the newly crowned World Champion Izzi Gomez in a rematch of last year’s final.
The Canarian dominated the whole battle, taking the biggest set waves and carving a canvas with excellent combinations of manoeuvers to secure her 1nd win in front of a hometown crowd. As Moreno returned to the beach, she was embraced and celebrated by friends and family, her win representing the host venue of Gran Canaria in incredible fashion once again. This victory catapults Moreno’s 2019 World Tour rankings to 2nd Place Overall for 2019. An incredible achievement for this Canarian local who is no stranger to World Championship Tour victories having won multiple Windsurfing World Titles to her credit. But the flavor of the Gran Canaria ProAm victory in front of a home crowd under such supreme conditions is definitely one to savor.
The consolation final also demonstrated the elevation of the level of performance in women’s SUP surfing over the past several years. The APP World Tour female athletes are on top of their game. A very nice backhand top turn demonstration by Peruvian Vania Torres trumped advantage over Brazilian Gabi Sztamfater’s impressive front side carves. With their Round 3 losses, American Fiona Wylde and the Australian Shakira Westdorp ended the season with 4th and 5th places respectively.
Maximilian Torres Won the Junior contest
After the Men’s and Women’s Pro Finals, the much-anticipated Junior Under 18 competition took to the water while the waves of El Lloret continued to pump. The impressive skill levels, stylish performances and ease of each of these young riders became a showcase for the future of the sport of SUP. The energy of this Final Round was electric as the whole crowd cheered vociferously for every wave surfed. Puerto Rican Maximilian Torres demonstrated his incredible talent winning the Junior SUP World Championship in a final heat with Juan De los Reyes, Fernando Serra Perrez and Frenchman Arthur Lemenn. These four elite young riders show us all what we can expect from the future of stand up paddle surfing in a big way. Their Under 18 Junior World Championship event was a pefect way to wrap up the APP World Tour Gran Canaria ProAm.
Gran Canaria Pro Am Inflatable SUP Race in Playa Las Canteras
The Gran Canaria Pro Am completed on Sunday with the inaugural Technical Race on inflatable stand up paddle boards. Amateurs and Elite riders gathered for this final morning of competition in Las Canteras, the same beach as La Cicer which had been hub for the Main Event. Outside the rock barrier and breaking swell is an awesome flat water playground suitable for paddlers of all ages and ability levels. Competitors launched from the beach for a 10km course including five laps inside the lagoon at a strong pace with lots of glide on their inflatable race boards.
A spectacular battle between Carsten Kurmis and his dad Fridjof, the young German Maui Sach took the lead and kept pushing hard to the finish line to secure a great win in this first inflatable SUP World Games.
Also participating in the Junior World SUP Racing Championship and Main Event for SUP surfing was local young waterman Liam Dunkerbeck, son of the legendary windsurfer Björn Dunkerbeck. Liam showed huge versatility in his talents and triumphed over the Junior (Under 16) Race division with strong, impressive paddling. From beginners to pros, the paddling community experienced fantastic fun together on the water and challenged themselves in this new, promising racing format. This format will definitely become a part of the event in the future and grow every year.
That’s a wrap for the 2019 Gran Canaria ProAM. This premiere event on the APP World Tour, has become in less than two years, a staple on the Tour with incredible surfing, and now, racing. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is one of the favorite venues for the World Tour competitors who report they love the waves in Gran Canaria, the stellar organization of the event and relaxed atmosphere of Las Palmas. The challenge now is for everybody to wait twelve more months to see if the Canarian surf breaks will fire once again for the APP World Tour competition!
APP GRAN CANARIA PROAM RESULTS:
TOP 4 MEN
1. Wellington Reis (Brazil)
2. Leco Salazar (Brazil)
3. Poenaiki Raioha (Tahiti)
4. Luiz Diniz (Brazil)
TOP 4 WOMEN
1. Iballa Moreno (Spain)
2. Izzi Gomez (Columbia)
3. Vania Torres (Peru)
4. Gabi Sztamfater (Brazil)
TOP 4 JUNIOR (UNDER 18) PRO
Maximilian Torres (Puerto Rico)
2. Juan de Los Reyes (Spain)
3. Arthur LeMenn (France)
4. Fernando Serra Perez (Spain).
APP WORLD SURFING TOUR 2019 FINAL RANKINGS
TOP 5 MEN:
Poenaiki Raioha (Tahiti)
Wellington Reis (Brazil)
Leco Salazar (Brazil)
Luiz Diniz (Brazil)
Sean Poynter (USA)
TOP 5 WOMEN:
Izzi Gomez (Columbia)
Iballa Moreno (Spain)
Vania Torres (Peru)|
Fiona Wylde (USA)
Shakira Westdorp (Australia)
TOP 4 JUNIOR PRO
1.Maximilian Torres (Puerto Rico)
2. Juan de Los Reyes (Spain)
3. Zane Saenz (Hawaii)
4. Rui Horikoshi (Japan) / Kauan Terra (Brazil)