HALEIWA, North Shore, Oahu/Hawaii – (Tuesday, January 23, 2018) — Two-time Pe‘ahi Challenge winner and Sunset expert Billy Kemper (HAW) bested a field of 112 competitors today for the win at the Sunset Open in an all-Hawaii Final that saw Maui athletes Ian Gentil and Ian Walsh take second and third respectively, and Barron Mamiya (HAW) in fourth. A World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 event, the Sunset Open is the first of the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Region 2018 season and sees Kemper earn the lead on the rankings.
“To kick off the year like this, it feels absolutely amazing,” commented Kemper post-awards presentation. “I put just as much time out at Sunset as anyone and I’m just really stoked to end up on top. 1,000 or 10,000, for us here in Hawaii this means everything and I’m really stoked and grateful.”
It was a nail-biting Final and Kemper had a strong opening ride to set the pace, a 7.67 for a mixed bag of power turns, then maintained first throughout the 30-minute heat. He continued to strengthen his lead with an 8.27 after finding a barrel off the point and then tallied another 7.30 throw-away score. Kemper’s decades of experience surfing the big wave break was a key component to today’s win.
“I think two of my scores were under their (competitors’) priority and I feel like that was just Sunset Point knowledge,” Kemper continued. “I moved over here when I was eight years old and I graduated from Shores to Vals to Sunset Point to Sunset, so this event was really cool because we got a mix of everything. We started at Big Sunset, went to west reef Sunset and ended up at 3-4ft. Sunset Point, really high-performance surfing.”
Gentil was but 0.24 points away from claiming his first professional win amongst a talented group of Sunset champions. Kemper’s first victory was in 2010 during the HIC Pro, a Men’s QS3,000; Walsh’s in 2005 and ’15 at the HIC Pro; and Mamiya’s last year during the 2017 Sunset Pro Junior.
“I’ve surfed against Billy a couple times, I can’t remember if I’ve ever beat him so I really want to get that done soon, at some point,” said Gentil. “It was cool to surf against Ian and Billy and Barron. Barron rips out here, he surfs 8-footers like they’re 4-footers, it was a stacked Final.”
Along with a runner-up finish, Gentil also scored a perfect 10-point ride after he disappeared behind an 8-foot curtain and exited cleanly on his opening ride in Semifinal 2.
“The heat started and I saw Jack (Robinson) paddling over to the west peak and I know he’s always barrel hunting so I sort of followed him, but stayed a little deeper,” explained Gentil of his perfect wave. “I almost didn’t go because I felt like I was too deep, but I knew if I didn’t go he was going to go so I just went anyways. I pulled in and I wanted to come out of it so much earlier than I did but it just kept throwing and throwing and throwing and I just tried to hang on and came out. I was so stoked, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a 10 in a QS so I was just happy with that.”
Semifinalist Jack Robinson (AUS) enjoyed the event’s first perfect 10 in Round 4 after navigating a lengthy, deep barrel with a near-impossible exit. The Australian blasted through the whitewater and followed up with a couple of powerful turns to close out the heat in first ahead of France’s Tristan Guilbaud.
Walsh and Mamiya stayed patient in the lineup and were selective with their waves during the Final, both finding mid-range scores, a 6.97 and 6.60 respectively. Walsh was a couple of points shy from overtaking Gentil for runner up with a combined two-wave total of 13.64, while Mamiya was unable to find a solid back-up score to bump up.
This is Mamiya’s second Final appearance in three days, as he took home third place on Sundayduring the 2018 Sunset Pro Junior. Mamiya, 17, is the current Regional Junior Champion and had a stellar year after multiple wins and a fifth place finish at the World Junior Championships earlier this month in Australia.
Top finishers from Tahiti included O’Neill Masin and Eliott Napias who went against each other plus Kemper and Mamiya in Semifinal 1, but fell just short of advancing into the Final. The two have been standouts along the North Shore for the past few years and will look to increase their regional rankings at home during the Rangiroa Pro Open and Papara Pro Open Men’s QS1,000 events in March.
The WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region now shifts its focus to Pipeline for the Men’s QS3,000, the Volcom Pipe Pro. With a holding window from January 29 – February 10, contest organizers and officials are anticipating more excellent swell to hit the North Shore with a target on the new WNW direction for Tuesday, January 30. For more updates, visit WorldSurfLeague.com and be sure to check out the Sunset Open event page for the competition highlights.
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th, all athletes from Hawaii unless otherwise noted.
1st – Billy Kemper, 15.94
2nd – Ian Gentil, 15.70
3rd – Ian Walsh, 13.64
4th – Barron Mamiya, 7.93
Semifinals (1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 5th place, 4th = 7th place)
SF1: Billy Kemper, Barron Mamiya, O’Neill Massin (PYF), Eliott Napias (PYF)
SF2: Ian Gentil, Ian Walsh, Jack Robinson (AUS), Olamana Eleogram
Quarterfinals (1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 9th place, 4th = 13th place)
QF1: O’Neill Massin (PYF), Billy Kemper, Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Adrian Garcia (PER)
QF2: Barron Mamiya, Eliott Napias (PYF), Keoni Yan, Elijah Gates
QF3: Ian Walsh, Ian Gentil, Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Finn McGill
QF4: Jack Robinson (AUS), Olamana Eleogram, Kekoa Cazimero, Nathan Florence
Round of 32 (1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 17 place, 4th = 25th place)
H1: Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Eliott Napias (PYF), Andrew Jacobson, Sunny Garcia
H2: Adrian Garcia (PER), Elijah Gates, Wyatt McHale, Kai Lenny
H3: Keoni Yan, Billy Kemper, Kyle Ramey, Koa Rothman
H4: Barron Mamiya, O’Neill Massin (PYF), Jeronimo Vargas (BRA), Kaito Kino
H5: Ian Gentil, Olamana Eleogram, Liam O’Brien (AUS), Makai McNamara
H6: Finn McGill, Kekoa Cazimero, Ulualoha Napeahi, Evan Valiere
H7: Jack Robinson (AUS), Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Eala Stewart, Martin Jeri (PER)
H8: Nathan Florence, Ian Walsh, Joshua Moniz, Imaikalani deVault
Round of 64 (1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 33rd place, 4th = 49th place)
H14: Eala Stewart, Nathan Florence, Mason Ho, Eli Hanneman
H15: Joshua Moniz, Tristan Guilbaud (FRA), Ezra Sitt, Kaimana Jaquias
H16: Imaikalani deVault, Martin Jeri (PER), Sebastian Correa (PER), Isaac Stant