PHOTOS & RESULTS: Hawaiian, Frenchman take top spots at Wrightsville Beach SUP Surf Pro-Am

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A worldwide lineup concluded the championship heat of the Wrightsville Beach SUP-Surf Pro-Am on Saturday afternoon, showing that in its third year, the competition is becoming an important stop for a growing international sport.

Competing for the men’s pro championship, and a purse of $2,000, were paddle surfers from Brazil, France, Hawaii and Florida. Only four-tenths of one point separated the top four finishers.

Hawaiian Mo Freitas  won the men’s championship, while Frenchman Martin Letourneur won the “Heyward Newkirk Sr. Waterman Award,” which recognized the top finisher in both the shortboard and longboard competition. Izzi Gomez, of Florida, won her third straight women’s shortboard title in the Pro-Am, which needed just one heat to crown the winner.  

The sport features surfers on standup paddleboards that are designed to ride waves. It’s a segment of the standup paddleboard sport that is often seen in Banks Channel  and other Wrightsville Beach waters. The event is a fundraiser for the Wrightsville Beach Museum. 

This weekend, Wrightsville Beach will host the Carolina Cup, which has emerged as one of the top standup paddleboard races in the world, attracting athletes from locations across the world. Accordingly, several of the SUP surf contests are staying through the week to compete in the Carolina Cup.

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Letourneur, also a Carolina Cup participant, said the SUP-Surf Pro-Am had become one of the top events outside of events on the International Surfing Association World SUP and Paddleboard tour, where this year’s world championships will be held in Denmark.

“Wrightsville Beach has become one of the top two or three,” Letourneur said of the Wrightsville Beach SUP Surf Pro-Am, noting that only a SUP surf competition

Colin McPhillips, a world-champion longboarder, also said the Wrightsville Beach tournament is growing a event in the growing sport.

“Any event in in waves like this is a good one and the people here really support it,”  McPhillips said. “The U.S., this is becoming the premier event.”

Another Floridian surfer, Kristin Moyer, won the women’s amateur division, in what she said was her first competition outside of Florida, though she regularly competes in similar events in Florida. She said the draw of the world-class lineup helped bring her up.

“I was honored to be in the water with Izzi,” Moyer said, referring to women’s champion Gomez. “I came here to check out the competition.”

In addition to shortboard and longboard SUP style surfing, the contest also introduced competition in a unique form of longboard surfing. Called a “glider,” the 10-foot-6-inch boards were too long to maneuver like a longboard, requiring competitors to find a line on the wave and ride the boards directionally for as long as possible.

“You can’t be radical like you can with a longboard, you just have to ride it as long as you can,” Letourneur said.

The conditions for the contest were strong at the day’s start around 8 a.m., however, winds made the waves more choppy by the time of the men’s finals, which came at around 4 p.m. The water temperature was in the high 60s.

For Tanvi Jagadish, a 16-year-old from India competing in both the pro and amateur division, it was her first ever SUP surf contest, and the conditions were challenging, as she had never surfed in water that cold.

“The waves were a little bit powerful, but I caught three good ones and one small one,” she said of her performance in the pro competition.

See all results here:

All Waterman Award

–      Martin Letourneur

Men’s Pro

  1.   Mo Freitas  (Oahu, Hawaii)
  2.   Martin Letourneur (Saint-Malo, France)
  3.   Georgio Gomez (Florida, USA)
  4.   Caio Vaz (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Women’s Pro

  1.   Izzi Gomez (Florida, USA)
  2.   Lexi Alston (California, USA)
  3.   April Zilg (North Carolina, USA)
  4.   Kristen Moyer (Florida, USA)
  5.   Tanvi Jagadish (Mulki, India)

Longboard Open SUP

  1.   Colin McPhillips (California, USA)
  2.   Fisher Grant (Florida, USA)
  3.   Martin Letourneur (Saint-Malo, France)
  4.   Bullet Obra (Big Island, Hawaii)

Glider Open

  1.   Colin McPhillips (California, USA)
  2.   Georgio Gomez (California, USA)
  3.   Bullet Obra (Big Island, Hawaii)
  4.   Byron Kurt (California, USA)

Men’s Amateur 15-49

  1.   Brycen Jergnigan (North Carolina, USA)
  2.   Chad Evans (North Carolina, USA)
  3.   Justin Schay (South Carolina, USA)
  4.   Jacob Thronburg (North Carolina, USA)

Men’s Amateur 50+

  1.   Haywood Newkirk (North Carolina, USA)
  2.   Byron Kurt (California, USA)
  3.   Randy Harris (North Carolina, USA)
  4.   Rick Weeks (North Carolina, USA)

Women’s Amateur

  1.   Kristin Moyer (Florida, USA)
  2.   Sherry Correll (Virginia, USA)
  3.   Tanvi Jagadish (Mulki, India)
  4.   Lexi Malone (North Carolina, USA)

Grom

  1.   Saylor Emmart (North Carolina, USA)
  2.   Jenna Blackburn (North Carolina, USA)
  3.   Betsy Lewis (North Carolina, USA)
  4.  Elle Newkirk (North Carolina, USA)
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