IQUIQUE, CHILE (THURSDAY, June 28, 2019): DON’T MESS WITH THE LOCALS. MORRETINO ON A TEAR. THE WOMEN DANCE WITH DOS AND SETTLE THE SEMI’S.
DO NOT MESS WITH THE PUNTA DOS LOCALS (BECAUSE THEY WILL ELIMINATE YOU IN STYLE)
If you had asked anyone on planet earth with an appreciation for polypropylene foam craft if they thought Jared Houston (SOUTH AFRICA) and Iain Campbell (SOUTH AFRICA) would finish =17th at any event this year on tour they would have laughed. But that is precisely what happened today at Punta Dos, Iquique – two world champions were eliminated from the Bellavista Pro, Iain Campbell at the hands of Pro Junior sensation Joaquin Soto (CHILE) and Jared Houston at the hands of Alan Irons Espinoza (CHILE).
There were of course other notable exits from competition today: while Lewy Finnegan (AUSTRALIA) did manage to fly the flag for the Australians through into Round 6, he couldn’t sustain the momentum, eventually falling to Gabriel Braga (BRAZIL) and David Barbosa (BRAZIL). Diego Cabrera (CANARY ISLANDS) was another standout rider who was unable to continue his strong form beyond Round 5, eliminated by fellow Canary Islander Armide Soliveres and a devastatingly in-form Tristan Roberts (SOUTH AFRICA). Current ratings leader Dudu Pedra (BRAZIL) was also eliminated by local Alexander Wittmann (CHILE) and fellow countryman Eder Luciano (BRAZIL).
While the departures of Houston and Campbell at the hands of local riders was significant enough, it was by no means the defining moment of local brilliance at Punta Dos today. That award goes to Maikol Pascal (CHILE), who put on a clinic in hitting sections on the near-dry end-section and being able to attract every decent set wave in a 30-minute period. Huge ARS’s were launched and landed perfectly, his local knowledge was matched by his technical skills and the local crowd loved every moment of it.
With this form and understanding of the reef at Punta Dos, Maikol Pascal (CHILE) just might be raising the winner’s trophy yet in Iquique.
SAMMY MORRETINO CASUALLY LOOKING LIKE A LEGIT WORLD TITLE CONTENDER
Sammy Morretino (HAWAII) is a two-time Dropknee World Champion and has claimed both titles by defeating man-on-man the undisputed king of competitive dropknee (Dave Hubbard). What this means is that he is comfortable competing when everything is on the line. This is how he competed today – like a world title was on the line.
Morretino’s (HAWAII) heroic performance today started in the dying seconds of his Round 5 match-up with Jared Houston (SOUTH AFRICA) and Alan Irons Espinoza (CHILE). In what was a heat dominated by Espinoza (CHILE), Morretino struggled to find a decent score for almost the entire 25 minutes of the heat, only holding below average scores. 2018 world champion Jared Houston (SOUTH AFRICA) was sitting in second place but also holding average scores – a vulnerable position as the minutes descended into seconds remaining. With under a minute remaining, Sammy Morretino managed to find a suitable ride that would provide him with the ramp he needed to launch a clean invert and move up into second place before the hooter sounded, leaving Jared Houston without time to respond.
In Round 6, Morretino was much more dominant from start to finish, launching large rollos, flips and inverts, building scores higher and higher throughout the exchange with Alan Munoz (CHILE), Yoshua Toledo (CHILE), and Alexander Wittmann (CHILE). Anyone would have assumed that the heat would have been a much tougher one for Morretino to take control of, given the dominance of Chilean riders in the heat. All three Chileans had been strong performers so far during the Bellavista Pro, but it was only Alan Munoz who was able to continue his good form and look at all like challenging Morretino for the victory. By the time the final hooter sounded, Morretino had 17.4 points – a brutal victory.
After returning to shore and the post-heat interview, Sammy Morretino casually signaled his true intentions this year. When asked why he would look to the prone division this year rather than focus his efforts more an claiming a third dropknee world title, he casually responded that his goal last year was to qualify to the top 24 and that this year he thought he would ‘have a crack at a prone world title’.
How many riders in their rookie year make a statement of intent so casually while showing that it might actually be an eventuality?
Sammy Morretino does, and his current form looks just like that of a world champion.
THE WOMEN CHARGED – TWO WORLD CHAMPIONS ELIMINATED
After the Men’s Round 6 was completed it was time for the Women’s Quarter Finals to take to Punta Dos. The swell was still hitting the reef with strength and the wind was whipping the surface up even more than earlier, but that didn’t stop a few devastating performances.
Ayaka Suzuki (JAPAN) launched a huge rollo onto the shallow end section at Punta Dos to earn herself an excellent score to eventually defeat Joana Schenker (PORTUGAL) with a combined heat score total of 14 to Schenker’s 5.5. Sari Ohara (JAPAN) had a lowering scoring victory over Teresa Miranda (CANARY ISLANDS) to join Ayaka Suzuki in an all Japanese Semi-Final 1. A major upset in Quarter Final 3 saw Chilean Anais Velis defeat iconic world champion Neymara Carvalho (BRAZIL) after nailing another huge rollo late in her heat. The fearless Chilean rider was overwhelmed with the victory and the locals had another reason to celebrate. In the final Quarter Final, Isabela Sousa (BRAZIL) provided another exceptional technical performance to eliminate Chilean big wave sensation Valentina Diaz (CHILE).
The performances from the women today in challenging and downright dangerous conditions once again showed that they match it with the men when it comes to tackling waves of consequence. Let’s see who can claim the ultimate glory tomorrow in what might be even more challenging conditions.
The finals day is what’s next! The Bellavista Pro will conclude tomorrow and what is certain is that the world title race will well and truly be on for the Women’s division; a change of rankings leader will definitely take place for the men; and a Pro Junior rider from Iquique will be victorious (we just don’t know which one yet!).
You know where to go for all the action.
Details on the statistics of each heat during the event can be viewed by downloading the Stact App.