|The Elimination Rounds said goodbye to event wildcards Matahi Drollet (PYF) and Tyler Newton (HAW) in Heats 1 and 2, respectively. Drollet fell one-backup score shy of advancing in Tahiti against Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and Jordy Smith (ZAF). Zietz dominated the day with two-seven point rides and will now prepare the Round of 32 against Michel Bourez (FRA).
“This is more of what we came for, yesterday was a bit tough and hard to swallow,” said Zietz. “Next time I put on a jersey, I hope it will be the real-deal Teahupo’o coming. There is a super west swell forecast. Mixed reports on how it will be but I think either way it will be pretty gnarly and it will be fun. Super bummed Matahi (Drollet) lost. I am sure he was looking forward to getting some heavy Teahuop’o. I almost wanted to let him go on that last wave but then I couldn’t do that to Jordy (Smith), and he is also a super scary guy to draw later when it is heavy.”
Ryan Callinan (AUS), the highest-ranking male Australian, won his heat with injury replacement Caio Ibelli (BRA) in second to dispatch Newton from the draw. Ibelli sits in 22nd place on the world rankings, right on the cut-line for requalification into the CT next season. Ibelli needs a strong finish in Tahiti in order to strengthen his requalification campaign for 2020.
Watch Callinan’s post-heat interview.