The first day of the Rangiroa Open Pro, a World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 event, saw technical barrel-riding from some of Tahiti's finest, plus impressive performances from Hawaii and international notables. The competition continued to heat up as key athletes advanced and the field narrowed.
A NW swell pulsed barreling 6-8 foot faces throughout the morning, but by 11:30 a.m. contest organizers called the competition on standby until the waves proved more consistent. By 2:30 p.m., the surf had picked up and Round 2 was in action. Mild offshore winds cooled down the hot and humid temperatures while local Tahitian music filled the event site and added to the island atmosphere.
Judges were looking for well-executed performances and completed waves, which was tricky for surfers as conditions shifted in the afternoon. In the opening heat of the morning, Dimitri Ouvre (BLM) kept the lead against fellow competitors Ludo Horoi (PYF) and Moana Domenech (PYF), posting a 6.25 and 5.25 to secure first and advance onto the next round. Ouvre continued his winning streak by moving onto the third round after surfing against a stacked heat. He went up against Jason Shibata (HAW), Tereva David (PYF) and Mateia Hiquily (PYF). Shibata also advanced into Round 3.
The only competitor to call Rangiroa home, Horoi, had a unique advantage given his sharpened awareness of the wave's nuances. The Tahitian was able to secure the second-highest scoring wave of his first heat, however, Horoi's crusade was cut short after an interference call was made against his favor in Round 2.
Standouts of the day included South Africa's Matthew McGillivray, who posted a near-perfect 9.90 after taking off deep in a barrel that measured 10 feet on the face. He worked through two sections and wowing the judges by narrowly escaping on dry reef. Contestants are striving to make few mistakes here at Rangiroa, since one fall could result in a broken board -- which was the fate of many surfers' equipment today -- or worse.
Brothers Teoro Tahutini (PYF) and Heifara Tahutini (PYF) of Papenoo, Tahiti, were among the top talents of the day, matched up against each other in the second heat. Heifara set the benchmark with a solid, Tahitian style of surfing and advanced in first with two good scores, a 6.25 and 7.50. Teoro advanced behind his brother, surely making dad proud. His father won the ISA World Championship Open Division in Japan, 1990.
Ruarii Atani (PYF) secured the second highest ride of the day, an excellent 9.0 score for a deep, off the point take-off. Atani showed expert skill as he drove through an 8-foot barrel and made a clean exit, then found a second barrel to round out a smooth and well-executed ride.
Atani also scored an 8.0 in his first heat, where he locked in on a critical takeoff, threaded the barrel and found the exit just in time before ending on dry reef, an exciting feat that judges rewarded.
Two of the few Australians of the event, Braiden Maither and Shane Holmes were both able to secure their place in the upcoming day 2 of competition, placing first and second, respectively, in their heats.
Contest organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. local time to determine if the Rangiroa Open Pro will resume. If called on, the competition will pick up at Round 2 Heat 8 with Gatien Delahaye (GLP) Elijah Gates (HAW), Shane Sykes (ZAF) and Mauiki Raioha.