Strapless riders raise the performance bar in long awaited mega swell.
With the long-anticipated mega swell hitting One Eye today and winds holding strong, the KSP One Eye Pro resumed with Men’s Round 4. Ten- to 12-foot faces (and the occasional 15-footer) kicked the day off to an exhilarating start.
More offshore than normal, the strong winds kept the wave faces exceptionally clean, setting the stage for some history and career-making heats.
Riding strapless in Heat 23, Jesse Richman (Hawaii) pulled into the sickest and longest barrel of the event so far, but was knocked off his board as he exited the tube. Had he ridden out of it, “I would have given him a 10,” commented KSP Judge Felix Pivec. “He was so close.” Scoring an 8.5 for his best wave, Richman advanced to the Quarter Finals.
Video of the day
Heat 24 pitted North teammates Patri McLaughlin (Hawaii) and John Amundson (Hawaii) against one another. Demonstrating his progressive, unstrapped surf-influenced style, McLaughlin beat Amundson.
Next, as Women’s Round 4 Heat 11 started, the swell ramped up to 15-foot sets (faces), the biggest of the day so far. Both catching some bombs, Kristin Boese (Germany/Best) rode strapped against the unstrapped Steph Bridge (United Kingdom/North). After Bridge’s kite went down early in the heat, Boese went on to ride a couple monsters, advancing to the Semi Finals.
Standing out from the rest of the women’s pack, Mauritian local Ninja Bichler (originally from Germany) exhibited stellar flow in Heat 12 as she rode the triple-overhead waves top to bottom. Riding 11 waves, Bichler scored an 8 on a set wave, the second highest women’s score of the day — which she later destroyed.
As the wind ramped up a notch and the swell continued to grow in size, Round 5 featured standout riding from Solbach and Monteiro. Sky with an 8 on his best wave and Mitu with an 8.83.
Riding rail to rail on macking waves in Round 5, Bridge advanced to the Semi Finals, where she faced One Eye wave slayer Bichler in Heat 16. Tremendously familiar with the break, the unsponsored Wild Card winner Bichler beat out Bridge with some mind-blowing riding. As the surf jacked up to 20-foot faces, and the Coast Guard rescue boat disappeared deep into the trough, Bichler wasn’t the least bit shy of the quadruple overhead monstrosities. Picking off set wave after set wave, she scored a 9.6 on one bomb, securing her a place in tomorrow’s finals against Marie Gautron (France).
Action-packed, the Men’s Quarter Finals shook the ground of the sport as well. Receiving 10s across the board from the five judges, Airton Cozzolino (Italy/North) scored the first perfect wave of the event with his strapless performance in Heat 30. Smashing set waves with clean, dynamic turns in the most critical sections, Cozzolino nudged out the unstrapped Solbach and fell just half a point short of a perfect heat score of 20.
Then in the last Men’s Quarter Final, Heat 32, Monteiro (Cabo Verde/F-One) with his innovative and smooth style faced McLaughlin’s surf-influenced grace, making for one of the closest matchups of the day. With a heat score of 18.5, Montiero knocked out McLaughlin by 2.5 points.
Conditions permitting, tomorrow will consist of Men’s Semi Finals (Pedreira v. Cozzolino and Richman v. Monteiro), followed by Women’s and Men’s Loser’s Finals and Finals.