Surfing-Flawless Pupo, charging Conlogue win Tahiti Pro

By Thomson Reuters Aug 19, 2022 | 10:24 PM

By Lincoln Feast

(Reuters) – Brazilian Miguel Pupo beat local Tahitian charger Kauli Vaast to win the Outerknown Tahiti Pro in epic surf at the infamous reef break of Teahupo’o on Friday, claiming his first victory in the final stop of the 2022 World Championship Tour.

With the women returning to Teahupo’o for the first time in 16 years, Californian veteran Courtney Conlogue charged to victory in the final over Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy in solid, overhead barrels.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a win and this year has had so many challenges…I’m just so grateful,” said Conlogue, claiming her 13th WCT victory. “I love this wave – this wave is so magical.”

The site for the surfing competition in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Teahupo’o is a hydrodynamic freak of nature, where thick swells from the Southern Ocean slam into a shallow coral reef creating some of the biggest and heaviest tubes in the world.

Pupo got off to a strong start in the final, weaving through a long, complicated tube to establish a lead over his young rival, surfing in his first WCT event.

Vaast looked to have got back in contention with a great barrel of his own, only to see Pupo weaving through a bigger tube on the next wave.

“It feels amazing. It took me 10 years to finally win a CT event,” Pupo said. “I wanted to get a trophy this year, to see my hard work pay off.”

Teahupo’o intimidates even some of the world’s best surfers – men’s ratings leader Filipe Toledo didn’t catch a wave until the final minute of his first heat and was eliminated early by Australian wildcard Nathan Hedge.

In contrast, Matt McGillivray learnt to surf in South Africa’s shark-infested waters and is a skydiver and BASE jumper in his spare time.

His appetite for danger served him well, scoring the only perfect 10 when he barely survived a sideways plunge into a giant wave, powering through a deep tube before being disgorged into the channel to huge cheers from the crowd.

Kelly Slater, the 50-year-old, 11-time world champ, was again a standout on the biggest day to make it through to semi-finals, proving once again he remains a potent threat in the heaviest waves on tour.

But the multiple-time Tahiti Pro winner was schooled by Vaast in their semi-final matchup, with the 20-year-old local putting on a display of deep, technical tube riding, including switching his stance between forehand and backhand on some waves.

With the 10-stop World Championship Tour now complete the top five men and women will compete in a one-day Finals event in Southern California next month.

Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi secured the final men’s slot after a clutch performance to make the quarterfinals. Hennessy was rewarded with the final women’s spot after her bold run on finals days, which left her bleeding from the leg after hitting the reef.


Filipe Toledo (Brazil)

Jack Robinson (Australia)

Ethan Ewing (Australia)

Italo Ferreira (Brazil)

Kanoa Igarashi (Japan)

Carissa Moore (Hawaii)

Johanne Defay (France)

Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil)

Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica)

Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by Sam Holmes)