HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/ USA (Sunday, January 15, 2017) – The World Surf League (WSL) Shoe City Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 crowned Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Chelsea Tuach (BRB) its respective champions after a brilliant day of competition at Huntington Beach. Both took their Championship Tour (CT) experience into the start of a fresh 2017 and put on a display of power surfing throughout the final day of competition. Both will spend time in California to continue training and preparing for a big year before heading to Australia as Igarashi plans his Sophomore year on the CT, and Tuach looks to return to the elite stage.
Hometown hero Igarashi came into this event feeling no pressure and a hunger to match that of his competitors which was on full display — posting the event’s highest single-wave total of a 9.50 (out of a possible 10) in the Semifinals. After dispatching an in-form Ian Crane (USA) from the event, Igarashi set his eyes on the Final against dark horse Takumi Nakamura (JPN) where the two battled for the title. But, Igarashi was relentless after an early start, posting a 7.83 on his opening ride and backed that up with a 7.07 to solidify the win.
“It’s amazing when you set your eyes on something and get to accomplish it — this year couldn’t have started better,” Igarashi said. “I’ve gotten to spend some time with my family and the people I love, and with a chance to do the contest so I’m feeling really good mentally and physically. I know they’re Top 100 guys and they’re going to come out hungry since it’s a regional event. It means a lot to them in that way which makes them even more dangerous, but at the end of the day I came to compete and give it my all.”
This marks Igarashi’s second Shoe City Pro QS1,000 title, but the times have changed since his first-ever QS victory.
“Winning this contest the first time I was an underdog and got on a roll as a young kid not thinking I was going to win it,” Igarashi continued. “It’s crazy coming back two years later as a favorite with different kind of pressures, but getting that chair up the beach was like déjà vu. I had the same friends on the beach with my family here, same kind of boards and same kind of feeling. I’m just excited to come away with a win here and get everything started off right.”
Men’s Runner-up Nakamura couldn’t have dreamt a better start to his 2017 campaign — not losing a single heat until Round 5 where he earned runner-up behind Brett Simpson (USA). But, the Mise, Japan-native got his payback with a Semifinal win over Simpson before taking on another powerhouse competitor in Igarashi. Nakamura finished at No. 133 on the QS last year and will be looking to build a lot of confidence, and momentum, out of this result to start the year.
“I’m so happy to have made that final after battling with one of the top seeds here, there’s no other way I would’ve liked to have done it,” Nakamura. “Matching up with Kanoa [Igarashi] in the Final was incredible and so stoked to have put up a fight against him. That was an incredible experience surfing against two CT guys back-to-back and helped get some confidence moving forward into the rest of the year.”
Caption: Women’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 winner Chelsea Tuach (BRB) winning her Quarterfinal heat earlier in the day.
WSL/ Van Kirk
Chelsea Tuach (BRB) found her rhythm to begin the year in the best way possible after falling off the CT last season. The Bajan came into the Shoe City Pro QS1,000 looking to find her form once again and did just that — posting the highest single-wave score of the women’s event with a 9.00 in the Quarterfinals. Tuach now preps for a massive year ahead of her and has this win to build from.
“It feels so good to start off the year with a win after feeling a lot of nerves at the end of last year so this is amazing,” Tuach said. “It was great to surf my way through some rounds and I had a lot of confidence going into that Final already having a few heats under my belt. I felt like I was in a good rhythm with a good game plan and it all fell into place, just like old times.”
“I’ll stay in California for awhile and get some training in while working on some boards with Matt Barron before heading over to Australia for those QS6,000’s,” Tuach continued. “I’ll be working on my technique more than anything — no heat strategy, nothing like that, just get my form really dialed in. I’m feeling fresh again for those events which feels great and can’t wait to get the year really off and running.”
Event wildcard Samantha Sibley (USA) took full advantage of the opportunity given to her all the way to the Final and finished runner-up. The 14-year-old kept her dream run alive with a massive performance in the Semifinals, topping Tuach, and then getting off to an early lead before the Bajan responded. Still just a Junior Tour competitor, Sibley will keep her main ambition there with plenty of time to grow.
“I’m so stoked and had no expectations coming into this event — my goal was just to make it through my first heat, but to get runner-up is awesome,” Sibley said. “I was totally not expecting any of this to happen and can’t believe it right now. This event got such good waves with yesterday being perfect and today it was a bit more tricky, but still so fun. This is a lot of confidence to get a good result in the QS and still be focusing on the Juniors is really cool. I’m just super excited for this year and can’t wait.”
Tia Blanco (USA) finished with a solid third-place finish as Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) rounded off the women’s Final in fourth.
Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Finals Day Results:
Men’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Final Results:
1 – Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.90 1,000 points $3,000
2 – Takumi Nakamura (JPN) 12.20 750 points $2,000
Women’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Final Results:
1 – Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 14.30 1,000 points $2,000
2 – Samantha Sibley (USA) 13.27 750 points $1,000
3 – Tia Blanco (USA) 12.56 560 points $600
4 – Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 6.70 525 points $500
Men’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 16.57 def. Ian Crane (USA) 9.30
Heat 2: Takumi Nakamura (JPN) def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.97
Women’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Samantha Sibley (USA) 15.33, Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 11.96, Bailey Nagy (HAW) 10.57, Mainei Kinimaka (HAW) 8.74
Heat 2: Tia Blanco (USA) 12.07, Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 11.67, Frankie Harrer (DEU) 11.03, Dax McGill (HAW) 4.70
Women’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Chelsea Tuach (BRB) 15.50, Mainei Kinimaka (HAW) 9.90, Rachel Presti (USA) 8.80, Alexxa Elseewi (USA) 7.10
Heat 2: Samantha Sibley (USA) 11.06, Bailey Nagy (HAW) 9.57, Chelsea Roett (BRB) 7.83, Caroline Marks (USA) 6.60
Heat 3: Tia Blanco (USA) 15.27, Frankie Harrer (DEU) 10.44, Maddie Peterson (USA) 9.00, Elle Sampiere (USA) 3.40
Heat 4: Kaleigh Gilchrist (USA) 10.56, Dax McGill (HAW) 10.13, Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 5.90, Bethany Zelasko (USA) 5.37
Men’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.33, Ian Crane (USA) 13.04, Kilian Garland (USA) 11.90, Cam Richards (USA) 9.10
Heat 2: Brett Simpson (USA) , Takumi Nakamura (JPN) , Jake Kelley (USA) , Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Men’s Shoe City Pro QS1,000 Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Ian Crane (USA) 13.87, Cam Richards (USA) 12.46, Taylor Clark (USA) 11.50, Shuji Nishi (JPN) 7.07
Heat 2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.26, Kilian Garland (USA) 12.37, Cory Arrambide (USA) 10.20, Matt Passaquindici (USA) 8.87
Heat 3: Takumi Nakamura (JPN) 12.00, Brett Simpson (USA) 11.66, Victor Done (USA) 8.43, Colt Ward (USA) 8.10
Heat 4: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 12.67, Jake Kelley (USA) 12.50, Jake Marshall (USA) 10.70, Noah Beschen (HAW) 10.03