A fitting end to a wonderful event. Do enjoy ‘A tale of two divisions’ from finals day at the VW SA Open of Surfing presented by Hurley.
All images the almighty, Ian ‘Hawkman’ Thurtell.
Men’s Division (The ferocious Adin Masencamp)
Sometimes in competition, the winner is decided from the first round. Meaning someone puts on such a dominant performance, so far above the rest of the field, that it’s obvious they should win the event. Think John John Florence at Margaret River two years ago or even Jordy Smith when he won Bells. From round 1 JJF looked two steps above the rest. A man unto himself. John John Florence wrote the rules at Margaret River, he was the measuring stick by which all the other waves surfed were measured upon. Occasionally you get to see performances like that. But Adin’s movement through the draw was no JJF at Margaret River or Jordy Smith at Bells. It was a gritty performance, a determined performance and a ferocious performance. After round one there were no easy wins for Adin and he had to put his head down and grind.
Round 3 and 3/4 way through the heat and Adin had nothing much to show for his 15 mins. Lying in fourth he found a 6.40 and quickly backed it with a 4.00 as the heat counted down. Walking up the beach the commentators read the score, just enough and in the nick of time.
Round 4 and while Adin’s field of Australian competitors got to work early in the tricky conditions Adin remained picky in the bad waves sitting far left when the bank further right delivered score-able rides to his Australian rivals. As the heat wound down Adin continued to let waves go, uninterested, no suitable partner in sight. But once again as the heat drew to a close and with everyone’s nails chewed down to the bone, Adin found himself a match. And a great match it was. In a land of flat waves, Adin found a runner that stood tall offering a lip to punish. Adin made his way up the beach to a ride the judges deemed excellent surfing, an 8.00 point ride, the first of the day.
The final was a tall order for Adin, Sheldon Simkus of Australia had been a clear standout throughout the event. His surfing, electric, light-footed, highly entertaining and innovative. Sheldon easily won every heat he surfed from round one to the semifinals. Sheldon in the final was no surprise. But Adin is a competitor, one that won’t let a win slip by him lying down. After losing the battle for the first ridable wave, Adin dropped anchor and waited. Sheldon got busy in the small conditions posting a 4.50 and a 4.00. Adin waited. And he waited and waited. It seemed he might just wait forever, too picky, but after 19 minutes of waiting, finally, a single wave set snailed its way onto the Pipeline boil. And guess who was awaiting its arrival!? Adin Masencamp. Adin gave that wave three hellbent uppercuts to the lip ending with a brutal assault on the inside. The judges, once again, deemed it excellent surfing. An 8.17 was awarded. Adin quickly backed his 8.17 up with a 3.17 and the win was secured. It was a determined effort, a highly entertaining watch and one deserved of the win.
Women’s Division (The cream rises to the top)
The quarterfinals of the women’s event read Isabelle Nichols vs Summer Macedo, Chelsea Tuachvs Holly Wawn, Kirra Pinkerton vs Sophie McCulloch and Vahine Flerrovs Pauline Ado. All of the girls within the top 40 on the QS rankings.
Semifinal heat 1, Chelsea Tuach vs Isabella Nichols and from what we’d seen from Isabelle throughout this event it seemed this would be an easy heat for Isabelle. Nichols had been in form throughout the event, finding great waves and surfing them flawlessly. But in semifinal heat 1, Isabelle lost her concentration. Chelsea Tuach got going quickly posting two keeper scores, a 6.83 and a 4.83 and putting pressure on Isabella. And as the heat wound down, the perfect wave came Isabella’s way, best wave of the heat with a bowl to die for, a bowl that just screamed, ‘beat me, beat me, beat me!’ Nichols set it up perfectly, a delightful bottom turn and into a beautiful carve, hints of Steph Gilmore and then without warning, her back foot slipped off. Opportunity lost. Heat done. Chelsea Tuach to the finals.
Semifinal two was a battle between two former WSL World Junior Champions, Vahine Fierro of France and Kirra Pinkerton of the USA. It was a close duel with Vahine using her impressively reliable backhand to squeak ahead of Kirra.
As the tide rose and the offshore wind picked up, the swell slowly died and by the time the Women’s Finals entered the water, the waves were almost breaking directly on the shore. It was a battle to find a corner that offered multiple turns. But Chelsea, as she had in the battle with Isabella, kept a level head, finding a wonderful runner left breaking off the Pipe that offered several attacks to the lip on the backhand which the judges deemed a 5,50. She backed her 5.50 up with a 3.93 and victory was hers. Chelsea exited the water and was hoisted on the shoulders of her competitors and carried to the podium. A wonderful end to a superb event.