HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Local Motion Surf Into Summer WSL Men's QS1,000 event launched this morning with a competitive comeback from Dege O'Connell (HAW), who saw his first heat win in three years after taking time off to recover from injury. The Maui native looked resilient in the shoulder-high waves and exploded off a set wave with powerful vertical hits for a 9.00 – the highest score of the morning.
O'Connell's wave set the bar for the day, and surfers battled to find solid scores in the tricky conditions to progress into Round 2.
Jason Shibata (HAW) posted an equally high scoring wave, a 9.0, in his heat against Bowls local Gregg Nakamura (HAW), Tahiti standout Heifara Tahutini (PYF) and 17-year-old Kala Willard (HAW). Shibata took a win at Ala Moana Bowls back in 2010, which marks his only WSL victory to date.
A new and rising SW swell produced clean conditions in the morning, but my mid day the wind picked up and proved challenging for competitors. The surfers had to exercise good judgment on wave selection to find mid-range scores.
Another surfer excited to be here was Enrique Turo Ariitu (PYF), who traveled from French Polynesia on a scholarship award. Ariitu recently saw a Semifinal finish at the Papara Pro Surf Tahiti Men's QS1,000 and hopes to continue his campaign this fall season on the North Shore.
"I'm just trying to qualify through the regional QS," said Ariitu. "I want to qualify for the Triple Crown events. Just do these events and see for next year if I'm higher in the ranking… It's great because now all the Tahitians have the chance to make it to the Triple Crown, all the big events. It's easier for us now."
The competition will end after heat 11 of Round 2 today and resume tomorrow morning at 7:30am. A winner will be crowned midday on Saturday, and a new name will be etched into the event's 31-year history.