Haleiwa, Oahu/HAWAII – (Tuesday, January 21, 2020) – The first World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui event of the new year, the Sunset Open, a Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 and Men’s and Women’s Pro Junior event, has been called ON at Sunset Beach with the Men’s and Women’s Pro Junior dominating the day. The Men’s division will hit the water first at 8:00 am HST followed by the Women’s Quarterfinals and then alternate between the divisions until winners are crowned by 4:00 pm.
“We have very clean 6-8ft. (faces) NNW swell at Sunset Beach today for the juniors,” said Marty Thomas, WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Competition DIrector. “Clear skies and offshore winds to kick off the 2020 Hawaii contest season. Winners will emerge today to take the lead on the regional Junior rankings.”
The Men’s Pro Junior Round 1 features eight heats that comprise the best 18 and under regional surfers that Hawaii has to offer. Nearly 80-percent of the draw hails from the islands, but defending event winner, Roi Kanazawa (JPN), will be contesting the formidable field along with other international threats from Tahiti, Brazil and Australia for the 2020 title.
2019 WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional Junior Champion, Robert Grilho (HAW), will surf in the opening heat of the day against Jake Maki (HAW), Tony Nunez (HAW) and Ben Brantell (USA) while last year’s finalists from Maui, Levi Young (HAW) and Eli Hanneman (HAW), will compete in Round 1 Heats 3 and 8 respectively.
Two-time Papara Pro Junior winner, Kauli Vaast (PYF), is also entered in the competition and will look to bring his big-wave brilliance from Tahiti to the lineup at Sunset Beach for the first time since 2017 where he placed third.
The Women’s Pro Junior sees Gabriela Bryan (HAW), 2019 and 2018 WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Pro Junior Champion, as the top-seeded surfer in the draw. After starting 2020 with a 9th place finish at the Corona Open China Women’s QS 5,000 event, Bryan is looking forward to competing back in Hawaii and getting a jump on the regional ratings for a third Sunset Pro Junior win and Regional title.
Bryan will surf against Stella Valdez (HAW), Ellie Brown (HAW) and last year’s runner-up Ariana Shewry (NZL) in the first heat of the Women’s division. Finalist and Honolulu native Leila Riccobuano (HAW) will compete in Heat 4 against former Regional QS Winner Savanna Stone (HAW), Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) and Irie Fitzgerald (JPN).
A regional newsfeed and image gallery will be uploaded to the links below, please check back throughout the day for updates. Following the awards presentation, the press release will be distributed with highlighted moments, quotes and more from today’s action. The Men’s QS 1,000 looks likely to run later this week as a new NW swell builds with more XL surf on the horizon toward the end of the holding period.