SUNSET BEACH, Oahu - After an incredibly tricky holding period filled with storms, incessant rain, devil winds, thunder and lightening, the APP World Tour was blessed with a pristine final day of action Tuesday to wrap what has been, when all is said and done, a spectacular event. With clean lines and offshore winds finally contrasting the seemingly never ending onshore pattern of the last few weeks, the world's very best put on an exciting display of performance surfing at Sunset Beach.
Poenaiki Raioha from Tahiti has looked like the man to beat throughout the holding period, with flawless, and powerful rail surfing that has been turning heads all week, and coming into finals day, he seemed focused and ready for the job at hand. However, through round 4 and the quarters, he was looking a little less alive than he has been previously, not able to find the waves he was looking for, but still putting together a solid performance.
In the semi-finals, the waves went a little slower, but Poenaiki found enough to win the heat and earn his spot in the final. Once there, the conditions turned on and he put on a performance for the ages, unleashing full power rail turn after rail turn, posting a near perfect score and backing it up with another score in the excellent range, combo-ing the other three athletes in the heat to take his first victory at the Sunset Beach Pro presented by Local Motion.
Poenaiki once again made Tahiti proud, and also made his intentions for the 2019 season very clear; he wants the World Title and he has the first notch in the belt on his way there with three more events to go this year.
Bernd Roediger once again demonstrates his comfortability at Sunset Beach to take a well deserved 2nd place. | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
Bernd Roediger from Maui is no stranger to the finals at the Sunset Beach Pro presented by Local Motion, with multiple appearances over the past few years as a testament to this. However, this year, his surfing has been on point, as he has drawn clean, fluid lines across the Sunset walls throughout the week, finding the right sections to hit and making it count to progress all the way to the finals once again.
While he was unable to overcome the mighty Poenaiki Raioha in the final showdown of the event, he put on a solid performance, and was able to secure second place for the event, a result that will prove incredibly valuable as we embark on the 2019 Title Race with three more events to come. This remaining events this year will be held in New York in September, Barbados in November and of course ending once again in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in December.
There is no doubt that Bernd Roediger is one of the most well rounded athletes on tour and is certainly a major threat to look out for through the 2019 season.
Wellington Reis puts on a masterclass in surfing Sunset on his backhand to take 3rd place at the Opening stop of the Tour | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
Wellington Reis turned heads back in New York with a mind-blowing display of flawless surfing in the tricky beach break line ups. While he had a good showing in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and was able to finish in 5th overall for the year in 2018, coming into Sunset Beach, the unknown was how his surfing would adapt to the powerful and tricky Sunset Beach line up.
Wellington well and truly answered that question today after a putting on a masterclass of performance surfing on his backhand at Sunset Beach and making it all the way to the final at an event that is notoriously difficult to do well in on your backhand.
As we look past Sunset to the year ahead, it is hard to put a finger on Wellington's weaknesses, as we look forward to see what is setting up to be one of the most exciting title races yet unfold in 2019 in which, Wellington Reis will no doubt feature heavily.
Caio Vaz returns to great form to make the final and finish in 4th place, kicking off his 2019 season the right way. | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
Caio Vaz is back and is looking stronger and more dangerous than ever. While he is still so young, he, along with fellow Brazilian World Champion Leco Salazar are now the leaders of Stand Up Paddling's very own Brazilian storm: with riders such as Luiz Diniz, Wellington Reis, Matheus Salazar, Bezinho Otero, Lucas Medeiros, Marcio Grillo and many more lining up to take on the best of the best on the APP World Tour. It is an exciting era for Stand Up Paddling in Brazil.
With regards to Caio's performance at Sunset, he once again showed that he has a great connection with this wave as one of only four winners out of the nine years of the Sunset Beach Pro, with two wins to his name. In 2019, a finals finish saw him throw everything at it to take the win, but had to settle for 4th place. While 4th place is not a victory for Caio, it is still a great start to his season, especially coming off a long injury that sidelined him for the majority of the year in 2018 and from which he still isn't 100%.
Rui Horikoshi makes Japan proud by taking victory in the U18 division of the Sunset Beach Pro presented by Local Motion. | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
Japan is one of the fastest growing regions for SUP in the world right now and the influx of young talent coming from Japan onto the APP World Tour is a clear testament to this, with the Sunset Beach Pro presented by Local Motion proving to be a true testament to this. Rui Horikoshi put on an impressive display in the main event, as did his compatriot, So Nomura, as the two made their presence felt and did their country proud.
In the U18 division (Rui is just 16), Rui took it a step further to take the well deserved win ahead of the on-form Maximilian Torres from Puerto Rico in 2nd, Leonardo Gimenes from Brazil in 3rd and So Nomura from Japan in 4th. There is no doubt that Rui is a name to watch out for in 2019, as we look forward to seeing him represent Japan across the entire Tour this year.
Derek Hama makes a dramatic comeback in the Masters division to take victory on his home turf. | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
It was a local affair for the Masters Division of the 2019 Sunset Beach Pro presented by Local Motion, as four Hawaiian athletes stepped up to do battle in pristine surf on tap at Sunset Beach. After a disappointing finish in the main event, Derek Hama came back strong in the Masters heat to overcome his competitors and take the well deserved victory ahead of Pete Lakos in 2nd, Jimmy Kress from right here at Backyards in 3rd and Jonny Kahakaloha in 4th.
It was great to celebrate the complete spectrum of competition at Sunset Beach, from 9-year-old Bobo Gallgher who took on full sized surf on Sunday, the pro men and women who once again raised the bar of performance SUP surfing, to masters, who put on a great display out at Sunset. The sport of SUP surfing continues to evolve and grow and the future is clearly bright.
Sunset Beach once again has the last say, delivering pristine conditions for an epic Final Day of competition. | Photo: Brian Bielmann / APP World Tour
While the performances from all APP World Tour athletes set a new bar and delivered a spectacle like no other, one thing is for sure: Sunset Beach was still the star of the show, wowing the crowds with its unpredictability, power and splendour, and while this was perhaps the trickiest forecast the APP World Tour has seen in its 10 years on the North Shore, Sunset Beach still did not disappoint, delivering pristine surf on the final day and a very complete and exciting challenge on the opening two days of competition.
With Sunset Beach now secured as the opening stop on the APP World Tour through 2021, we can't wait to come back to what has become the proving grounds for performance Stand Up Paddling here on Oahu's North Shore. Next up: Long Beach, New York from the 31st - 5th September for the APP World Surfing Tour, followed by Bathsheba, Barbados from the 9th - 17th November and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from the 11th - 18th December.
Go to appworldtour.com for all the latest from the APP World Tour and to check out highlights, replays, recaps and galleries from all the Sunset Beach action and make sure to follow us across social media @appworldtour
About the APP World Tour and Waterman League International
The APP World Tour is the Professional World Championship Tour for the Sport of Paddlesurfing (also known as SUP / Stand Up Paddling / Paddleboarding), officially sanctioned by the IOC recognized Federation for Surfing Sports, the ISA (International Surfing Association). Re-branded in 2017 as the APP World Tour (previously known as the Stand Up World Tour and Series) the APP has been crowning the sport’s World Champions for both Men & Women across Racing and Surfing since 2010.