All photos by Matt Catalano.
Those who follow competitive surfing know the sad truth that swells and conditions often wither during contest waiting periods. With a four-day window at South Shore Oahu's most famous break, Ala Moana Bowls, the Ripcurl Gromsearch International Finalists crossed their fingers for two days of contestable conditions
Day one came in hot with fun-sized, rippable South swell that allowed for big scores and hearty performances on both sides of the draw. However, things got a little sketchy when days two and three went flat, forcing consecutive lay days. With only one day left in the waiting period, the Pacific Ocean knowingly kicked it into high gear and provided the best waves of the entire event. The competitors said thanks by smashing the swells to pieces.
After highly contested quarter and semi-final rounds, it would be Nolan Rapoza (USA) and Kehu Butler (NZL) on the boys' side, and Brisa Hennessy and Leilani McGonagle on the girls' side who would be fighting for the international title. But before they could begin, many of the already-disqualified competitors shared the lineup for an expression session with local legends Mason Ho, Freddy P, and Mikey Bruneau. Talk about inspiration.
The finals were hard fought on both the boys' and girls' sides, but it was regularfoot Brisa Hennessy and screwfoot Nolan Rapoza who brought home victory. This win will be a big step for both competitors, who are quickly entering the stage in their careers where a run towards the World Tour is no longer a distant dream.
But first, celebration! One can only imagine the number of Fantas that will be consumed this evening in Honolulu.
QF 1: Brisa Hennessey (HAW) 10.97, Juliette Brice (FRA) 9.43, Cinta Hansel (IDN) 4.73
QF 2: Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 15.50, Raiha Ensor (NZL) 10.23, Summer Macedo (HAW) 9.97
SF 1: Brisa Hennessey (HAW) 11.17, Raiha Ensor (NZL) 7.30
SF 2: Leilani McGonagle (CRI), Juliette Brice (FRA) 7.13
Final: Brisa Hennessey (HAW) 11.36, Leilani McGonagle (CRI) 10.73
QF 1: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 15.33, Koby Oberholzer (ZAF) 15.33, Anderson Junior (BRA) 13.00
QF 2: Kehu Butler (NZL) 15.50, Rio Waida (IDN) 12.63, Liam O'Brien (AUS) 8.26
SF 1: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 17.66, Rio Waida (IDN) 15.50
SF 2: Kehu Butler (NZL) 18.04, Koby Oberholzer (ZAF) 10.17
Final: Nolan Rapoza (USA) 13.17, Kehu Butler (NZL) 12.16