Papara delivered clean 6-foot wave faces and offshore winds for surfers fighting their way into the Quarterfinals of the Papara Pro Open, a World Surf League (WSL) Men's QS1,000 event. Solid head-high sets began pouring into the lineup by midday, and Hawaii's [Noa Mizuno3954)](athelte: took advantage of the waves to display technical surfing for the second highest wave score of the day, an 8.60.
"I felt good, my board feels good," said the Honolulu native. "Just trying to figure things out, this wave is probably one of the most challenging waves… it's really fun but tricky at the same time. This whole week I've been trying to figure out where to sit and which waves to catch so it's been a tough time, but the last heat came together for me."
Mizuno, 17, talked about gathering insight from the locals: "The Tahitians are good over here, they know where to sit and which waves to catch and they're really smart. In the beginning of the week I tried to see what all the Tahitian locals guys were doing, how they're surfing, seeing where they're sitting, which waves they're catching and it's been paying off. I'm stoked."
Finn McGill (HAW), runner up finisher at the Rangiroa Open Pro, claimed the highest wave of the day, an 8.65 for a few technical maneuvers. McGill, 15, advanced in first place, .25 points ahead of second place finisher and fellow Hawaii surfer Kekoa Cazimero.
In the Round of 32, Heat 3, the Tahitians took the lead against Billy Kemper (HAW) and Rangiroa Open Pro event winner Kai Mana Henry (HAW), upsetting the chance for either to move on. Taumata Puhetini (PYF) showed expertise in the beach break waves, and as the defending winner of the event, looks to secure another title. Jocelyn Poulou (PYF) also advanced on with a combined two-wave total of 11.60 taking him one step closer to the win.
Day 2 of the Papara Pro saw the field narrow, but the international mix stayed strong as the competition whittled down to just 16 surfers. Hawaii accounts for the majority of athletes left in the competition - seven in total - followed closely by Tahiti's five still in the running. South Africa, France, Australia and Saint Barthelemy are also still represented.
Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) and Mateia Hiquily (PYF) were the first two surfers to advance into Round 4, with McGillivray, 18, posting another excellent score, an 8.50. A total of 16.00 combined points put the South African in the lead, while Hiquily was close behind with a two-wave total of 14.50.
Some barrel riding was had on the inside right sections this morning, with Steven Pierson (PYF) finding deep cover and an 8.25 from the judges. The wave, along with a backup score of 6.40, catapulted him into first. The Papara local is pleased to be advancing on and has enjoyed the friendly international competitors.
"I'm happy to share my beach break with all the surfers in the world," said Pierson, 31. "And especially with the Hawaiian surfers, for the Hawaiian region. All the Tahitians are happy about that. It's such an advantage for the Tahitian surfers and I'm happy to see the surfers surf Rangiroa and the beach break here, it's only positive vibes."
Dimitri Ouvre (BLM) sat in last place for most of Heat 5 until he scored an 8.50 on the 5-minute mark for two beautiful frontside carving turns. Hailing from the French island of Saint Barthelemy, the surfer fought for a 4.25 backup score and will move into Round 4.
"I got lucky on that left because everyone was on the right side, so I was waiting on the left side," said Ouvre. "There was a little hustle game in the water. Tricky, but lucky to get that left and a couple good turns on it."
This is the 24-year-old's first time to Tahiti, and he compares the Papara beach break to the waves at home. "Saint Bart is always fun. It's pretty inconsistent, maybe a couple big swells during the year, but you can surf fun waves everyday. It looks a little bit like here, but the wave here is way better."
Ouvre is working to get into the WSL QS10,000 events before the cut off this year. "For the moment I think I'm pretty close, just need one more result. And then I'm giving myself two years for maybe qualification."
Next call for the Papara Pro is Thursday, March 17 at 11:00am with a possible start at 12:00 noon. A SW swell is expected to fill in in the morning with a more direct track, which should provide solid surf for the final day. When the contest resumes, Heat 1 of Round 4 will hit the water first, which sees a mix up of McGillivray, Poulou, Pierson and Eli Olson (HAW) go up against each other.
Tomorrow two juniors will be crowned as the Papara Pro Junior and Vahine Pro Junior resumes at the Quarterfinals. A 10am call will determine whether the competition will get underway in morning light.