KIAMA SURF BEACH, KIAMA (Wednesday, September 4th, 2019): PIERRE-LOUIS COSTES DEFEATS SAMMY MORRETINO IN HIGH OCTANE FINAL. GEORGE HUMPHREYS WINS AIR ASIA AIR SHOW WITH 540 AIR REVERSE.
It might be known as ‘The battle of the backflip’ at Kiama Surf beach today as multiple world champion Pierre-Louis Costes (FRANCE) and world title contender Sammy Morretino (HAWAII) put on a dizzying display of aerial bodyboarding for the huge local crowd. Both riders dispatched of in-form riders Eder Luciano (BRAZIL) and Dave Winchester (AUSTRALIA) in tightly contested semi-finals to secure their rightful place in the final.
For Sammy Morretino (HAWAII) his match up with Winchester saw his ARS game shine brighter than Winchester’s strategy of connecting moves and length of ride. It should be noted that Dave Winchester no longer regularly competes on tour, so his finish on the podium is exceptional.
PLC had what could be argued as an even tougher opponent in Eder Luciano in the semi-final. Coming off a crucial victory against Tanner McDaniel (HAWAII) yesterday and then out-surfing 3-time world champion Ben Player (AUSTRALIA) in the morning’s quarter final, it seemed like no one could stop Luciano. In the semi-final there were plenty of opportunities for the Brazilian to get the better of PLC, but he couldn’t capitalize, and, in the end, the young Frenchman had the victory.
With both Morretino and Costes the leading contenders for the world title this year, the final was an eagerly anticipated match-up, with many wondering if a victory for either would be a sign of what is to come at the end of the title race. The waves had improved significantly throughout the day, proving that Event Director and APB CEO Alex Leon has nerves of steel when it comes to calling on today’s action. The Kiama Wedge provided opportunity after opportunity for each rider to perform and that they did.
In his post-final interview, Pierre-Louis Costes had this to say about the event and his preparation for it:
“What is funny about this event is that you don’t know where you are going to surf. The event could be held anywhere so it is really difficult to prepare for.”
“I am so happy that the waves turned on this year. Last year was pretty bad for waves but the event organization was amazing.”
He also touched on one of the more interesting reasons why he hasn’t done so well in Australia in the past:
“I haven’t done well in Australia before, probably because I am always thinking about which amazing wave I might surf tomorrow, so I am really happy to take this win.”
Forever gracious in victory and in defeat, PLC gave credit to the young Hawaiian Sammy Morretino before the champagne could be popped as well:
“We all have to agree that Sammy Morretino is the standout performer this year. I don’t know how he has gone from qualifying to now being a world title contender in one year, so well done to him.”
This win for PLC strengthens his hold on the 2019 world title lead in the rankings but he is still no sure thing. With the best 3 Grand Slam events and best QEST event counting towards the world rankings this year, a strong performance by PLC in Sintra (the final QEST of the year) next week will be critical before the final Grand Slam at El Fronton in the Canary Islands.
PLC had this to say about the anticipation for Sintra:
“Pipe was a great event. I didn’t go there for the points, just because it is a prestigious event. Then I skipped Iquique, but now Sintra is a pretty important event for me.”
The Sintra Pro kicks off next week in Portugal so it will be very interesting to see how the world title race develops from there.
GEORGE HUMPHREYS GETS HIGH AND SPINS OUT FOR THE AIR ASIA AIR SHOW VICTORY
The success of the tow-out demo at last year’s event at Kiama saw a sponsor come on board to support the action. This year, Air Asia came to the party, offering up a cash prize of 500 AUD and a return ticket to Bali for the rider who could fly the highest at Surf Beach Kiama.
Riders were invited to participate in the air show, with those familiar with the format eager to take up the tow-rope for the chance at victory.
In the early qualifying heat it was Jeff Hubbard (HAWAII) who flew highest, launching a sky-high air reverse to be the obvious choice for eventual victory. George Humphreys (AUSTRALIA), Michael Ostler (SOUTH AFRICA) and Joshua Kirkman (AUSTRALIA) were also able to perform well enough to secure a spot in the final that would take place between the completion of the semi-finals and final of today’s competition.
Local bodyboarder and former world tour competitor Grahame Miller was on hand to deliver the jet-ski assistance for the riders and he didn’t fail in finding the opportunities they needed in the tricky conditions.
All riders in the final managed to find a clean ramp at one point or another, with the lead changing hands to almost each and every rider throughout the 30-minute final. In the end though, it was one very clean air reverse followed by another 540 that saw the young Western Australian George Humphreys take the win and the trip to Bali.
The APB Tour moves to Europe for the final two events of the competitive year, the Sintra Pro and Fronton King, where a new world champion or Pierre-Louis Costes will be crowned APB World Champion. Anticipation is high and the bodyboarding world is in for a treat.
The Kiama Bodyboard King Pro is the only Association of Professional Bodyboarding (APB) World Tour event in Australia.
For more information please visit www.surfingaustralia.com/nsw or www.apbtour.com/kiama.
The Kiama Bodyboard King Pro is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW. Destination Kiama is a proud sponsor of the annual event. The event is a collaboration between Surfing NSW and APB to run and host Australia’s largest bodyboard event.