Press Release sent by the APB// Perfect glassy conditions greeted the officials for the final day of the 2017 Teahupoo Tahiti Challenge, to finish the last four heats of round three and move into the business end of the Competition. APB Contest Director Alex Leon made the early call to finish the finals today. “look at this it’s absolutely picture perfect and will be the best conditions for the rest of the waiting period”, Leon said.
The final four heats of Round 3 saw the best conditions of the day with nine-time world champion Hawaiian Mike Stewart absolutely dominating with a nine-point tube ride. The other outstanding performer was Lewy Finnegan from Australia who had at 8.67 to knockout Tahitian local Nicholas Richard. With the real upset of around three coming with Tahitian Hitoti Henry from Ty Hayley knocking out dual world champion Amaury Levernhe (Reu).
Round 4 the non-elimination round was dominated by Australians Garth McGregor and Paul Blaz. McGregor was outstanding with a 9.33 tube ride, really looked like to have lost everything then made an incredible bottom turn to pull into the perfect position, and finally getting spited out of the barrel to make the section. Paul Blaz who has been the giant killer of the event continued to dominating Dudu Pedra from Brazil, who is basically regarded as the most hardcore big wave rider on tour at the moment.
Now down to the business end of the event, with the elimination Round 5, where the winner was through to the quarter-finals and the loser out of the event, Jared Houston from South Africa had a nail-biting finish over Nicolas Poilvet from Haiti to win at 15.6 to 15.33. Dave Hubbard from Hawaii made light work of Dudu Pedra recently just could not find a wave, taking it out 15.43 to 9.37. Heat 3 saw the battle of the Hawaiians with Mike Stewart “the master” taking out Patrick Orr (14.23 to 13.10). Finally, last heat saw Australian Lewy Finnegan taking out Hitoti Henry from Tahiti – 14.73 to 13.43 points.
Things really started to heat up in the quarter-finals with some of the biggest scores of the whole event taking place, precisely when the swell show a real pulse in the swell. In quarter-final one, Jared Houston knocked out the last Tahitian of the event, Nicolas Poivlet in a close match up. Jared had to take his ride to the next level to be able to overcome Nicolas’ incredible knowledge of Teahupoo. Final result was 15.60 to 15.33 pts.
Paul Blaz is the man creating upset in this event. After knocking out Jeff Hubbard earlier in the event, it was time for him to defeat his younger brother, Dave Hubbard. Paul is full of energy as he got all the best waves knocking out Dub, 16.83 to 15.00 points.
Mike Stewart defeated Alex Uranga from the Basque Country in Heat number 3. Alex’s was on fire from the start of the heat but Mike found the deepest barrels to knock him out. Mike’s best score of this awesome heat was 9.87 points and we did witnessed the most incredible wave exchanges and suspense at its highest level so far in the event. Stewart pointed 17.83 to 16.57 from Alex.
Heat 4 was an all Aussie heat between Lewy Finnegan and Garth McGregor. Garth showed the highest level of barrel riding, managing to sneak as deep as it gets in the biggest set waves. He ended up with a total score of 17.93 and Lewy has been unable to beat him despite getting some absolutely perfect barrels for a total of 16.20 pts.
In the first semifinal, Jared Houston faced Paul Blaz, AKA “Mr. Upset”. However, Paul’s wave magnet had run out of power and he was unable to catch the bombs this time and Jared locked very-good-range scores early to put Paul in combination barely in the semi-final, with Houston tearing away to at 14.43 to a 4.00 points win.
The semifinal number 2, both chargers and barrel riders Mike Stewart & Garth McGregor battled for a slot in the Grand Final. Mike started with medium-sized long and clean barrel to score an 8.33 pts. Garth followed going deep in an absolute bomb to score a 9.33 pts and took the lead early in the Heat while Mike kept priority after this wave-exchange. Mike used priority to get the next set wave and score an 8.17 pts boosting a huge roll coming out of the barrel. Garth took the heat out in the last 30 seconds getting the scoring, a 8.73 points, to overcome Mike’s score and advance to the Grand Final!
Podium final saw Mike Stewart facing Paul Blaz. Mike got off to a great start with two long tube rides to have Blaz in a combo situation early in the podium final. Paul tried valiantly using his priority to get the best ways but simply couldn’t make it out of the tubes to put any real pressure on Stewart. Taking out the podium final and third place in the event with 14.40 to 10.83 pts.
The Grand Final saw former 2015 world champion Jared Houston taking Garth McGregor. Both riders had the crowd and the fans at home equally split, but the South African had really put his skills and wave knowledge to the test with an 8.17 opening ride. Realizing he was in a bit of trouble McGregor then went for one of the biggest maneuvers of the event, doing the ARS in a critical section over the dry sharp reef, almost making the breathtaking maneuver before he got sucked backward over the falls, ending his campaign.
In the end, both riders felt like they were winners, with Jared Houston in his first event after what looked like to be a career ending shoulder injury last October in Nazare.
“I’m just so emotional at the moment it doesn’t really seem real from where I’ve come in the last few months and the hard work I put in. It is such an amazing reward, to win this prestigious event. I just want to thank my wife and family,” Houston said just after the siren.
The APB World Tour takes a short break now before moving on to Brazil in June (14-25th) for the Itacoatiara Pro.
PT // O sul-africano Jared Houston acaba de vencer a 2.ª etapa da APB Tour, o Teahupoo Tahiti Challenge, frente ao veterano australiano Garth McGregor. O antigo campeão mundial a dar-se bem após a lesão contraída em outubro do ano passado numa “free session” na Praia do Norte, que obrigou a cirurgia e cerca de 4 meses de recuperação e fisioterapia. Na final consolação, Mike Stewart arrecadou a vitória, ficando assim em 3.º lugar num dos eventos mais espetaculares do calendário mundial, deixando o aussie Paul Blaz no 4.º lugar da geral. Próxima etapa é o Itacoatiara Pro, no Brasil, dias 14 a 25 de junho. Até lá!