Day one started early for both riders and staff with a first skippers meeting at 830am and the opening ceremony straight afterwards. The Chinese don’t do things in small measures, they always go all out in celebration and this opening ceremony was no exception, top delegates came to sanction the event and show their support for the field of world class athletes.
With low tide in the morning the choice was made to begin with the big air. This was decided open as the waves are generally shaped better throughout the higher tide on Pingtan beach which would better suit the requirements of the Waveriding division.
A solid 20 knots of wind provided a great platform for the Big-Air riders to showcase their skills, with an over-all impression format in use it was imperative that riders show the judges a well-rounded approach to their heats in order to advance to the later rounds.
Round one for the men saw Crathern, Martinez, Kerneur and Hoppe all winning their respective heats and posting up some solid scores. Crathern, Martinez and Hoppe all reached the 80 point mark (out of a possible 100), with Martinez pushing hard to score an 88.3.
All of these men showed a solid combination of big jumps, kiteloops and handle-pass maneuvers to place them at the top of the pack. We shouldn’t underestimate the underdogs but it looks fairly likely that it will also be these four men battling it out for a spot on the podium in the later rounds tomorrow.
On the Womens side of the big-air local rider Chen put on an artistic display in heat one to come in tied for first place with rider Hou. Both Women will advance to the Finals tomorrow coming up against Magaji and Correia from heat two.
It was undoubtedly Magaji though who stole the show for the Women, posting up a 76.6 putting even some of the Men to shame. Magaji showed a well rounded performance with not only High Jumps but also both Boardoffs and big Kiteloops filling out her repertoire and setting her apart from the rest of the field.
As the tide came in so did the Waves and the decision was made to put the Big-Air on hold in favor of the Waveriding discipline.
The waves were hotly contested with a sporadic beach break prevalent through out the competition area. Riders were tested on not only their board skills but also on their ability to read and choose the correct wave to catch in order to maximize their scoring potential.
Riders Matoz, Ribeiro, Ferreira and Kerneur all placed first in their round one heats respectively advancing straight to the semi-final round. With all three besides Kerneur posting a score in the 14s (for a two wave total) it was clear that it would be tight in the final rounds.
Carew and Brito were the two lucky riders who pushed through the second chance round two to meet the four winners from round one.
Heat 13 saw a super close battle between Matos and Ribeiro with both surfers exchanging blows wave by wave, however it would be Matos taking out Ribeiro with what can only be described as his signature clinical vertical backhand attack.
In Heat 14 Carew as the underdog managed to better his position by narrowly edging out the competition vetran Kerneur by half a point for a place in the loosers final and a chance at a third place finish tomorrow.
However Ferreira got the upper-hand in the heat 14 exchange with his smooth approach pushing him into a final round match up tomorrow where his skills will be tested against the precise vertical attack of Matos. There’s no doubt that these final two heats will be exciting to watch!
Over on the Womens side the Waves were largely dominated by both Correira and Ferreira the Portuguese and Brazilian duo. These two Ladies showed a rail game that some of the men could even learn a thing or two from and they no doubt will have their eyes set on the prize in the final heat tomorrow.
Hou came through the consolidation round to meet the two in the final tomorrow but will have a hard time against these veteran athletes. It will be interesting to see how they all perform in the one heat and whether or not they can continue their form with the added pressure on their shoulders.
Overall Day One provided competitors with conditions that were about as good as it gets here in Pingtan.
We hope that these conditions continue into tomorrow so we can finish both Wave and Big Air disciplines concentrating on the competitor heavy Twin-Tip field in the days to come.