PRAIA GRANDE, SINTRA (Sunday, September 15TH, 2019): MORRETINO CLAIMS THIRD STRAIGHT DROPKNEE WORLD TITLE. ANAS HADDAR MAKES HISTORY FOR MOROCCO. OHHARA HAS ONE HAND ON THE WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE. CAPDEVILLE DOES THE FAMILY NAME PROUD.
Even though conditions were tough for the final day of competition at Praia Grande, there were some historic moments for the books. The biggest of which was Sammy Morretino’s 3rdDropknee World Title against idol/rival Dave Hubbard.
MORRETINO CLAIMS THIRD STRAIGHT DROPKNEE WORLD TITLE
There was no doubt that Sammy Morretino was on track for a successful title defence throughout the week of competition at Praia Grande. He was consistently posting high combined heat score totals in his heats and never failing to get the crowds online and at the beach excited with his antics. His title defence wasn’t guaranteed, but he sure looked like the guy to beat. Of course, multiple Dropknee World Champion Dave Hubbard (HAWAII) was moving well through the draw and while he wasn’t matching the high scores of Morretino throughout the event, his reliable approach to heats was seeing him on track for a final day match-up with Morretino from the start.
In the Dropknee Final today, the riders took alternate approaches to the heat. Dave Hubbard focused his attention on a sand bank to the north of the competition area, where he was able to find both frontside and backside dropknee rides on smaller waves, while Morretino went further south and found some larger backside rides where he was able to connect some nice turns. A pivotal moment came in the heat when Morretino found a rare frontside wave that allowed him to throw some tail and get a good score from the judges (a 6.75).
For the rest of the heat, Morretino stayed characteristically busy, locking in 12 rides before the final hooter and victory was his. In winning the Dropknee World Title, Morretino was humble, thanking his friends and family, sponsors and also crediting Dave Hubbard as an idol and inspiration.
ANAS HADDAR MAKES HISTORY FOR MOROCCO
Like was the case for the Dropknee World Title journey regarding Sammy Morretino, there seemed to be a certain inevitability to the fact that Anas Haddar of Morocco would be the eventual champion at Sintra this year. His build and abilities lend himself to the challenging conditions at Praia Grande and he was able to launch higher and move faster than anyone else during this week of competition. He still had a tough contender to deal with in Dave Hubbard, but the smaller conditions of the final day definitely played to his strengths.
The final was evenly matched for most of the 30-minute exchange until the latter stages when Haddar was able to surge ahead of Hubbard with more of his seemingly easy flips on the lefthander. He closed out the final with a solid 8-point ride to remove any doubt that the Sintra Pro title was his this year. It was a great performance and one celebrated in Portugal with his support crew of Moroccan bodyboarders, and also online with a huge audience of Moroccans at home.
OHHARA HAS ONE HAND ON THE WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE
Sari Ohhara was on fire all event and like Morretino and Haddar in the other major divisions, she seemed destined to take the win and take herself one critical step closer to the World Title this year. She needed to out-surf Canary Island rider Alexandra Rinder to do that, and with Rinder’s strong competitive history, this was not going to be easy.
What was ciritcal during this final was wave selection, which Ohhara seemed to be much better at, finding the larger rides and completing her maneuvers well. Her highest score of a 6.75 came on her last ride for victory and included not one but two rollos, which was quite a feat considering the conditions. Ecstatic in victory, Ohhara now has one hand on the world title for 2019, which will be decided at the Fronton King in October at the famous El Fronton.
The pressure really is on Ohhara’s main rival, 2018 World Champion Ayaka Suzuki, who needs to win Fronton if she is to take the title for a second year in a row. This isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Suzuki, who is known for charging huge waves and has serious skills in reef breaks. Ohhara’s best bet is to take the title herself to remove all doubt. Let’s see!
CAPDEVILLE DOES THE FAMILY NAME PROUD
The Pro Junior division at the Sintra Pro was more a warm-up for the more serious Viana World Pro Junior Championship later this month. If warm-ups are a sign of what’s to come, Ethan Capdeville is certainly looking like a legitimate contender.
Capdeville had total control of the final today of the Pro Junior division. Wave selection and completion of moves was critical, and Capdeville was able to combine the two. Ethan finished the heat a whole 3 points ahead of second place after finding two late rides that took his heat score total up to 12.5.
For more information about the Pro Junior World Championships in Viana go to the APB Tour website.
Pro Juniors will head to Viana for the Pro Junior World Title September 19 till 22 and the Women’s and Men’s tours will go to the Fronton King October 12 – 26.