Fierce Elimination Rounds Bring Open Men One Step Closer to Gold at the ISA World Surfing Games

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Team France retain early lead in team rankings, look to build on Women’s medal performances

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Fiercely surfed elimination rounds ran on the fifth day of competition at the 2017 ISA World Surfing Games in Biarritz, France. The Men completed Repechage Round 1 and 13 heats of Main Event Round 2, eliminating a total of 58 surfers and narrowing the field of hopeful men world champions down to 110.

Brazil’s Elivelton Santos put on one of the most impressive performances of the morning in Biarritz. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Team France remain one of 14 countries that still has all four of their male surfers in the competition. Given that Team France’s Pauline Ado and Johanne Defay respectively took the Gold and Silver in the Open Women Division, they remain in first overall position with four days remaining in the event window.

The fifth day of competition took place in a declining swell that provided waves in the waist to chest high range during a sunny, cloudless day at the venue of Grande Plage. The Open Men’s Division finished off the sole Repechage Round of the event that had begun the previous evening with some powerful Surfing put on display.

Argentina’s Felipe Suarez and Norway’s Luca Guichard were the stand out performers, facing off in the same Repechage heat. The surfers tied for first in the heat and marked the highest heat total of the round with 14.90 points, bouncing back after their Round 1 Main Event losses.

The reigning ISA World Junior Champion and Brazilian surfing prodigy , Weslley Dantas, also rebounded after an uncharacteristically poor performance in Round 1 of the Main Event. Dantas took advantage of the second opportunity that the Repechage Round provides to seed back into the Main Event and stayed in form for his following Main Event heat to finish in first place, sending him into Round 3 of 7.

Overall in the Repechage Round, 34 surfers were eliminated from the competition, including Fiji’s Lesi Navuwai. As a member of the first-ever Fijian Team to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games, Navuwai did not dwell on his loss, but spoke about his positive experience this week in France:

“My experience in France has been amazing, the people in Biarritz are very friendly. All the international surfers that I have met in the water have been welcoming and supportive, chatting about the great waves that we have in Fiji. I just tell them that they need to come to Fiji and see for themselves!”

“We are hoping to get more funding next year and bring a full team with women as well.”

Lesi Navuwai is all smiles after his experience this week in Biarritz, even after being eliminated from the competition. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The afternoon continued with the Men’s Main Event Round 2 after a contest hold during the high tide. Now moving into single elimination rounds, the athletes left it all in the ocean and put on gutsy performances to make their nations proud and remain in the competition.

The second portion of Main Event Round 2 that ran was highlighted by an electric performance from Brazil’s Elivelton Santos (BRA) who was able to create speed in the small surf and launch progressive aerial maneuvers to earn the second highest heat total of the round with 16.1.

The top performance of Round 2 belonged to Tahiti’s Ariihoe Tefaafana, who navigated the smaller afternoon conditions and earned the highest heat total of 16.13.

Round 2 will continue with the 20 remaining heats when competition resumes.

Spain’s Luis Diaz, former US Open Juniors Champion, moves on through the Repechage Round and will surf again in Main Event Round 2 when competition resumes. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

ISA President Fernando Aguerre spoke about the action taking place at Grande Plage:

“We have now entered into the second half of the competition and the in-form surfers are beginning to emerge above the rest of the field. In the days that are coming, emotions will run high and the competition will intensify as the event edges closer to crowning world champions. We are witnessing history as Gold Medalists will soon be crowned on Sunday, the first champions in the Olympic Surfing cycle.”

A call will be made for Thursday’s competition at 9am local time (CET). Conditions are expected to be small, with a new westerly swell arriving for Friday in the waist to shoulder high range, therefore a lay day is possible.

If competition runs, the schedule will be the following*:

9am – Call
9:20am – Possible heat start Men Main Event Round 2
12pm – call
12:20pm – Possible heat start Men Main Event Round 2

*Schedule subject to change.

The schedule for the remainder of the event is as follows:

May 25-28 – Men’s Competition, Grande Plage
May 26 – World Premiere of “Shredding Monsters”, an Olympic Channel Production, 8pm CET at the Municipal Casino Theatre, Biarritz
May 28 – Closing Ceremony, Grande Plage

Watch the event live May 20-28 on

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 100 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro. The ISA’s four Vice-Presidents are Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL).