The Papara Pro Surf Festival ran through Round 1 and six heats of Round 2 of the ASP 1-Star Qualifying Series division in a historic day of surfing. It's been over 15 years since surfers have competed in Tahiti for ASP QS ranking's points and the locals were excited by the opportunity. The level of surfing was extremely high with solid rail surfing and technical aerials being thrown down in clean three-foot (1 metre) surf at Papara rivermouth.
Hira Teriinatoofa (Tahiti) used local knowledge and lightning fast carves and snaps to advance through Round 1 and 2 of the Papara Pro Surf Festival. Teriinatoofa is one of Tahiti's most successful professional surfers, making the Quarterfinals of the Billabong Pro Tahiti in 2006 and winning many other events and titles over his career.
"I was nervous at the beginning, but I know that you can easily get two good waves out there," Teriinatoofa said. "I'm really happy to have this event here, the first ASP QS event in Tahiti in a long time and the first one ever at Papara. There's a lot of talented surfers here so this is a great opportunity for them and for all of us. We all want to win."
Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen, NSW/AUS) continued on his impressive form the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior into the open ASP 1-Star QS division, advancing through both Round 1 and 2 with excellent scores and big manoeuvres. Chapman has reached the final 16 of both divisions.
"It's really fun out there today," Chapman said. "Everyone has been tearing, there are so many good local guys that I'd never even heard of that are surfing unbelievably good. I'm just trying to keep up with them really. It's good to make a few heats, it's not worth thinking about the podium until you get there. I hope I have another good day tomorrow and keep the roll going."
Vehiatua Prunier (Tahiti) advanced in second place in Round 1, in a very tight heat, but came into form and won his Round 2 heat with ease. Prunier surfed strong and hard all day, mixing critical floaters with impressive fins free turns.
"It's so great to have a QS event in Tahiti and get to surf with all my friends," Prunier said. "Everyone in my last heats rips! It was very tough. I was lucky at the end to find a left and I scored and 8.50."
Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) was eliminated in the first Round of the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior, but advanced through two very difficult open 1-Star heats at Papara. Hing used smooth rail turns and huge airs to amass solid scores and is through to Round 3.
"That was a really tough, close heat," Hing said. "Two good waves came through near the end and I missed them and I thought I'd blown the heat. I thought this wave hated me or something because I lost first round of the Pro Junior two years in a row, but I seem to be having more luck in the QS so I'm still happy."
Steven Pierson (Tahiti) tore through his two heats at the Papara Pro Surf Festival today, surfing with speed, power and flow to post excellent scores and set himself up as one to watch as the event gets down to the business end.
"It's so good for the local guys to have a QS here, and it's at my home spot, I'm so happy," Pierson said. "The local guys surf really well and so do the Australian juniors, it's only a 1-Star rating but the level of surfing is really high."
The Papara Surf Festival will run from April 8 â€“ 13. For more information log on to papara.prosurfinglive.com