South Africa’s Michael February won his Round 1 heat at the Hawaiian Pro on Thursday, posting an excellent heat total of 15.74 out of a possible 20 in rising overhead waves at Ali’i Beach in Haleiwa.
The first jewel in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the Hawaiian Pro is a QS10 000 rated event on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) and one of nine major events in the series that determines the 10 qualifiers for the following year’s elite Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
Competing in a WSL event in Hawaii for the first time thanks to his current No.80 ranking on the QS, February took advantage of the opportunity to cement his place in all the major QS events for the 2016 season. After six consecutive lay days due to small surf, the Hawaiian Pro got underway in inconsistent one-metre waves that grew to two-metre plus overhead surf.
The 22-year-old from Kommetjie opened his account with a 7.17 (out of 10) before being overtaken by Michael Dunphy (USA) who posted a near perfect 9.40. Using his priority intelligently, February paddled into a set wave and after racing through the first section, blasted two turns off the lip before carving a cutback in the tricky ‘Toilet Bowl’ section of the break.
The ride earned an excellent 8.57 from the judges and moved him into a lead that his three opponents could not match. The South African advanced to the Round of 96 along with Dunphy, while third and fourth placed Adrien Toyon (FRA) and Hawaiian Elijah Gates were eliminated from the event.
‘Day 1 done – thanks everybody for the rad support. I’m too stoked to be competing in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing,’ said February on his Facebook page after his victory.
History was made at the Hawaiian Pro when 2000 World Champion and six-time Triple Crown winner, Sunny Garcia (HAW), 45, took to the surf in his Round 1 heat. He matched the 29 appearances of fellow Hawaiian legend, 1993 World Champion and four-time Triple Crown champion, Derek Ho.
Garcia went on to place second and progress to Round 2. With the surfing series now in its 33rd year of prestige, it is doubtful anyone will rival Garcia’s accomplishments here.
The Hawaiian Pro resumes with Heat 3 of Round 2. South Africa’s Beyrick de Vries (ZAF, Umhlanga) will open his campaign in Heat 4 against Evan Geiselman (USA) and Hawaiians Kaito Kino and Kakoa Cazimero.
February will take on Carlos Muniz (CRI), former World Junior Champion, Pedro Henrique (PRT), and veteran Hawaiian standout Olamana Eleogram in heat 10.
Jordy Smith (ZAF, Durban), who is seeded directly into Round 3 of the Hawaiian Pro, returns to action for the first time since the J-Bay Open in July after a succession of injuries to his knee, foot and back. Smith will be in Heat 3.
The Hawaiian Pro has a holding period that runs until Monday 23 November.
Picture of February, courtesy of WSL/Cestari