Kolohe Andino (USA), current WSL Jeep Rankings’ Leader, has delivered well in recent seasons at Teahupo’o, finishing 5th, 3rd and 5th at the event in the past three seasons. Andino’s comfort with the challenging South Pacific reef pass will be an advantage as we move into the Tahiti Pro window.
“Tahiti is a really special event for me,” Andino said. “It’s a place where I grew up watching guys like Andy (Irons) and Kelly (Slater) absolutely dominate. It’s a spot I really wanted to get good at and I love coming here. I’ve had some decent results in recent years, but I want a win. That’s always the goal and a win helps the Title campaign. Hope we get some solid surf.”
Andino will look to cement his frontrunner-status – the first Californian male to do so in 23 years (since Shane Beschen in 1996) – as contenders Filipe Toledo (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Jordy Smith (ZAF)look to gain ground in the hunt for the 2019 World Title.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), reigning two-time WSL Champion and defending Tahiti Pro winner, had a stalled start to the season, hampered by back-to-back 17th place finishes in Bali and Margaret River. However, the current WSL No. 7 and defending Tahiti Pro winner, is coming off a victory in South Africa and will look to build on that momentum heading into the South Pacific.
Medina faces rookies Peterson Cristano (BRA) and Soli Bailey (AUS) in the opening heat of the Round 1.
Hurley, into their second year as presenting sponsor for 2019, is excited to see the world’s best surfers back at one of the most critical waves and critical tour stops of the season this coming week.
“Teahupo’o is one of the most special places in the world. It’s an arena unlike any other, and has hosted some of surfing’s most spectacular performances and historical moments,” Jeff Hurley, Hurley, said. “Hurley is thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of the Tahiti Pro, and we can’t wait to see the best in the world do what they do best.”
John John Florence (HAW), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL) and Mikey Wright (AUS) have withdrawn from the event due to ongoing injuries and will be replaced by Caio Ibelli (BRA), Francisco Morais (PRT), and Tahitian Matahi Drollet (PYF). Drollet will be placed into the draw once the trials are complete.
The two remaining places in the draw will be determined via the Tahiti Pro Trials, a 32-man, one-day trials event that will take place between August 16 and 18.