ALA MOANA BOWLS, Oahu/Hawaii (Tuesday, June 21, 2022) – Today, Moana Jones Wong (HAW) and Eli Hanneman (HAW) emerged victorious at the World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard, first stop of the 2022/23’ Hawaii/Tahiti Qualifying Series (QS) season, in spectacular fashion. Pristine, four-to-six foot finals day conditions provided moments of magic that Wong and Hanneman were able to capitalize on throughout their respective runs to the Final.
From start to finish, Wong looked unstoppable on her insurmountable forehand as she posted multiple 9-point rides on the way to her second-career QS victory. The North Shore surfer overpowered a formidable Final including former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Coco Ho (HAW), world-renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton (HAW), and emerging star Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) – starting with a near-perfect 9.25 (out of a possible 10).
Wong all but put the Final out of reach with her excellent 8.10 back up as DeSoto accrued a brilliant 15.35 heat total alongside Ho’s 15.20.
“I’m super stoked and Bowls is super special to me,” said Wong. “My grandpa is born and raised right here, and surfed this wave every day when he was growing up. To win at my grandpa’s favorite wave is the best thing ever.”
Wong’s Semifinal performance also notched her the best single-wave score of the women’s event with a 9.65 Following her dream run through the winter with back-to-back Pipeline victories, Wong now solidifies herself as a dominant threat in Hawaii/Tahiti Nui as she starts the season ranked No. 1 where she left off at the end of the 2021/22’ season.
Spectators witnessed a dominant ending to competition for Hanneman in stacked Final affair featuring event threats Jackson Bunch (HAW), Joshua Moniz (HAW), and Kai Martin (HAW). The Maui competitor took to a massive, full rotation aerial assault to stomping the landing for a near-perfect 9.25 in the opening minutes of the Final. Hanneman then added a 6.00 backup to put his opponents on the ropes early before Bunch, Moniz and Martin began fighting back – Bunch accruing an excellent score alongside Moniz.
But, Hanneman all but shut the door with his backhand attack, combined with another brilliant rotation for a 9.00 to earn the highest heat total of the event and his first-ever QS win.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve won a contest and it feels nice. It felt good to out and do I what I do. Sometimes when you surf contest and heats it kind of suppresses you’re capabilities, and you tend to hold back sometimes. It felt good to go out and put it all on the line.
Hanneman now returns to the Challenger Series for his shot of keeping this momentum alive heading into South Africa and qualification toward the CT.
DeSoto’s recent run of success between the amateur level at Ala Moana Bowls and representing Hawaii at the ISA World Junior Championships gave her all the confidence heading into the QS. The 16-year-old’s forehand was sharp from her first heat until her last to earn a career-best runner-up. DeSoto battled with Wong in both her Semifinal and Final heat, besting former CT veteran Ho in the process as she moves forward ranked No. 2 in the region.
“I had a shocker on finals day in El Salvador (for ISA) so coming into this event I knew I could it if I just showed up and surfed, and was just myself and connect with the ocean,” said DeSoto. “It was just a matter of doing that. Yesterday was so much, got two heat wins and today had two heats with Moana (Jones Wong). She got me in both of them but she was ripping and it’s just so awesome to have the opportunity to be here.”
Eventual runner-up Bunch made his presence known in a big way throughout finals day, accruing multiple excellent scores and near-perfect heat of 18.00 in the Semifinals. This marks a career-best result on the QS for Bunch after overcoming event threats such as Ian Gentil (HAW), Tanner Hendrickson (HAW), Billy Kemper (HAW) and more. Hanneman’s fellow Maui competitor now sits at No. 2 on the regional QS rankings with a strong foothold toward Challenger Series qualification early on.
“It was kind of hard not to just give it everything, the waves were just firing,” said Bunch. “Had a close one in the Quarters and after that I knew I just had to wait on the best waves. There were plenty so it was easy to do that. I just want to do good in a couple contests and give myself a chance at the Challenger Series. That’s my main goal so I’ll give it my best run.”
The next Hawaii/Tahiti Nui event on schedule will be the Sunset Pro QS 1000 beginning October 28 – November 6.
Women’s Final Results:
1 – Moana Jones Wong (HAW) 17.35 1,000 points
2 – Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) 15.35 800 points
3 – Coco Ho (HAW) 15.20 650 points
4 – Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 11.65 600 points
Men’s Final Results:
1 – Eli Hanneman (HAW) 18.25 1,000 points
2 – Jackson Bunch (HAW) 16.75 800 points
3 – Joshua Moniz (HAW) 15.60 650 points
4 – Kai Martin (HAW) 14.35 600 points
Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Moana Jones Wong (HAW) 17.65, Puamakamae DeSoto (HAW) 14.75, Erin Brooks (HAW) 13.15, Eweleiula Wong (HAW) 12.60
SF 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.60, Bethany Hamilton (HAW) 12.75, Brittany Peneroza (HAW) 12.40, Rumor Star Butts (HAW) 8.25
Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Eli Hanneman (HAW) 16.20, Kai Martin (HAW) 15.40, Finn McGill (HAW) 14.40, Diesel Storm Butts (HAW) 12.80
SF 2: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 18.00, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 17.60, Ian Gentil (HAW) 15.35, Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) 13.80
Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kai Martin (HAW) 14.95, Diesel Storm Butts (HAW) 13.00, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 6.60, Brodi Sale (HAW) INJ
QF 2: Finn McGill (HAW) 14.45, Eli Hanneman (HAW) 14.35, Shion Crawford (HAW) 13.85, Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 12.60
QF 3: Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) 15.40, Ian Gentil (HAW) 14.75, Robert Grilho (HAW) 13.95, MaiKai Burdine (HAW) 12.50
QF 4: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 15.45, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 15.40, Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 14.65, Hendrix Frankenreiter (HAW) 13.50
Men’s Round of 32 Results:
Heat 1: Brodi Sale (HAW) 12.20, Eli Hanneman (HAW) 11.75, Cody Young (HAW) 10.90, Ocean Macedo (HAW) 7.75
Heat 2: Diesel Storm Butts (HAW) 11.75, Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 9.40, Eala Stewart (HAW) 7.80, Tyler Newton (HAW) 5.00
Heat 3: Finn McGill (HAW) 17.35, Kai Martin (HAW) 15.40, Kai Lenny (HAW) 12.25, Diego Ferri (HAW) 10.90
Heat 4: Shion Crawford (HAW) 17.55, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 16.60, Dusty Payne (HAW) 13.70, Mason Ho (HAW) 12.45
Heat 5: Robert Grilho (HAW) 13.65, Tanner Henrickson (HAW) 12.35, Evan Valiere (HAW) 12.15, Eimeo Czermk (PYF) 8.30
Heat 6: Ian Gentil (HAW) 14.75, Hendrix Frakenreiter (HAW) 12.25, Thatcher Johnson (HAW) 11.05, Kane Turalde (HAW) 7.95
Heat 7: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 16.50, Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) 15.85, Billy Kemper (HAW) 15.50, Noa Mizuno (HAW) 14.10
Heat 8: Joshua Moniz (HAW) 15.90, MaiKai Burdine (HAW) 12.20, Gregg Nakamura (HAW) 10.60, Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) 9.85
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.