The Maui Strong Aloha Classic
Day 1: Majority of top seeds survive unscathed, but shock exits for world title hopefuls Sarah Hauser and Marc Paré
After patiently waiting for the wind and waves to align during the first six days of the holding period, today was finally the day when the green light was given to get the 2023 Maui Strong Aloha Classic Grand Final underway. Conditions offered sets up to logo high, and there were plenty of standout moments as the elite of the wave sailing world were finally unleashed upon Ho’okipa.
Women’s – Single Elimination
In the opening quarterfinal, Jane Seman (Severne / Severne Sails), who has an outside shot at the world title, was able to win a tightly contested heat ahead of Angela Cochran, who edged out Jessica Crisp (Hot Sails Maui) for the remaining qualifying position.
Heat two saw the upset of the day as former two-time Aloha Classic champion – Sarah Hauser (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing) – suffered a shock quarterfinal exit meaning she will now have to hope for a second chance in the double elimination to stage a comeback. Maria Behrens (Duotone / Duotone), who finished second in Sylt, was the standout sailor in the second quarterfinal as she won the heat ahead of Shawna Cropas (Duotone), who also progresses.
Heat three witnessed a proficient display by Maria Andrés (Duotone / Duotone Sails), who is Offringa’s closest challenger as things stand. The Spaniard looked in a confident mood, showing solid wave selection and a nice variety of turns to win the head ahead of Lina Erpenstein (Severne / Severne Sails).
Current World Tour leader – Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard / NeilPryde / Maui Ultra Fins) – successfully booked her place in the semifinals, but she needed a powerful two turn combo to leapfrog from third to first in the latter stages of Heat 4, while Marine Hunter (Quatro / KA Sail), who won Sylt, had a tight tussle with Coco Foveau (Severne / Severne Sails), but it was the latter who would crucially advance after a couple of critical late hits.
Men’s – Single Elimination
In the opening heat of the 2023 Maui Strong Aloha Classic, Takara Ishii (RRD / RRD Sails) and local boy – Kai Lenny (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing) secured the top two positions to book their places in the round of 16 with both sailors looking equally at home at Ho’okipa.
Marc Paré (Duotone / Duotone Sails) harboured world title aspirations at the beginning of the first day of competition in Maui, but the Spaniard now faces a mountain to climb after being eliminated from the round of 32 after former Aloha Classic champion – Camille Juban (AV Boards / S2Maui) – and fellow countryman Marino Gil (Goya Windsurfing) beat him to the qualifying positions. Paré didn’t sail a bad heat as he landed a goiter towards the end of the heat, but it wasn’t enough with Gil stomping a big frontside 360, while Juban tweaked aerials to progress, while leaving Paré’s world title hopes in tatters.
In Heat 3, Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde) looked to be in dangerous form as he planed out of a goiter to win the heat ahead of Arthur Arutkin (Duotone / Duotone Sails / Black Project Fins), who showed off a nice vertical approach to end the hopes of Russ Faurot (S2Maui / Quatro / Black Project Fins) and former 3-time world champion – Victor Fernandez (Duotone / Duotone Sails)… in the single elimination at least.
Ricardo Campello (Naish / Naish Sails), who currently leads the World ranking as he goes in search of a maiden Wave World title, survived a potentially tricky first heat after being drawn with Bernd Roediger (Flikka / Hot Sails Maui / Black Project Fins) – a former Aloha Classic champion, Federico Morisio (Severne / Severne Sails) – who has spent plenty of time at Ho’okipa and Julien Flechet (Flikka / Hot Sails Maui), who came through the qualifying round. Roediger deservedly claimed the top spot in the heat after stomping a beautiful goiter to earn the highest wave score of the day – 7.37 points – but Campello won’t be too worried about that as he still secured second place to keep control of the title race at this stage.
In the bottom half of the draw, Graham Ezzy (Tabou / GA Sails), who grew up on Maui, but doesn’t spend as much time on the island as he used to, looked to be in decent form as he showed off his rail work, while also claiming a goiter, which earned him 7 points to win Heat 5 ahead of another Maui local and former Aloha Classic champion – Morgan Noireaux (JP / NeilPryde) – who rotated through a radical taka, which was packed with plenty of torque to dispatch of Antony Ruenes (Tabou / GA Sails) and Dieter Van der Eyken (Severne / Severne Sails).
Antoine Martin (Starboard / North Sails) picked up a knock before the start of the Aloha Classic, but there was little sign of that impacting his performance in Heat 6 as the 2019 Aloha Classic champion made a confident start to earn the victory ahead of Hayata Ishii (RRD / RRD Sails) and Levi Siver (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing), who had a colossal battle for second place. Siver looked as though he had performed a buzzer beater after tweaking an air, only for Ishii to reply with a powerful frontside hack of his own to reverse the positions once again as the 18-year-old claimed a hugely impressive victory over the 2013 Aloha champion.
In the penultimate heat of the opening round, Adam Warchol (Quatro / Goya Windsurfing) looked sharp as he demonstrated excellent wave selection to win Heat 7 ahead of Jake Schettewi (JP / NeilPryde), who edged out Takuma Sugi (Tabou / GA Sails / Black Project Fins) and Julian Salmonn (Bruch Boards / GUNSAILS).
The final heat of the day in the Men’s division saw Ricardo Campello’s main title rival – Marcilio Browne (Goya Windsurfing) enter the fray for first time and the reigning world champion didn’t put a foot wrong as he earned second place behind Thomas Traversa (Tabou / GA Sails). Browne was very selective with his wave choice – riding only 3 waves in the entire heat, but he notched up the scores he required to advance to keep the fight for the world title firmly alive. Meanwhile, Traversa looked dangerous with the Frenchman oozing speed and flow on the wave to deservedly advance into the top 16.
The forecast for Sunday looks promising so the green light has already been given to run the content tomorrow. The sailors will meet again at 10:30am (GMT-10) for the skippers’ meeting with the action commencing from 11am onwards – conditions depending.
Watch for updates on our Social Media channels (Instagram and Facebook), and the official Maui Strong Aloha Classic page to view the live broadcast and stay up to date with all the latest from Maui, Hawaii.