Walsh posts top score

Kemper, Lenny, Layer also reach Peahi semifinals

Ian Walsh rides a wave on the way to posting Friday’s best Peahi Challenge score. -- World Surf League / RICHARD HALLMAN photo

Ian Walsh of Kuau had the best wave and heat scores Friday in waves of 35-45 feet during the Peahi Challenge, and was one of four Maui competitors to reach the men’s semifinals of the World Surf League Big Wave Tour event at the spot also known as “Jaws.”

Walsh had a single wave worth 8.90 points on the way to a heat score of 26.13.

“We just got a little bit of a north wind so kind of picking and choosing the right waves and trying to just make sure you’re in the right place when they come,” Walsh said. “Those are my first two waves to open up the 2017-2018 winter, and it’s conveniently at home for me here. I’m glad we’re getting a start to the winter this early and hopefully this snowballs into something pretty special.”

Kuau’s Billy Kemper, who has won both previous editions of the event, finished first in this year’s opening heat with a 21.51.

“If there’s one way to kick off an event, I think that’s it,” Kemper said. “You got to work to play so that was definitely some hard work. I just kept my head in the right place and kept digging until I found the gold, and I found a really good wave. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out, but I’m very lucky that (the judges) gave me the score that they did. That was probably one of the best barrels I’ve ever got out here, so, almost made it, but I’m just stoked. I’m in a really good head place so I’m here to have fun.”

Two-time defending champion Billy Kemper competes en route to earning a semifinal berth. -- World Surf League / RICHARD HALLMAN photo

Spreckelsville’s Kai Lenny advanced by finishing second to Walsh in his heat with a 19.37. Lenny leads the Big Wave Tour points standings after winning the only other event so far this season, the Puerto Escondido Challenge, which took place in Mexico in July.

Albee Layer (12.41) of Haiku advanced with a third-place finish in his heat.

Shaun Walsh, Ian Walsh’s brother, finished last in his heat and was eliminated.

Competition in the men’s event is to finish today, and the single-heat women’s competition is also set to take place — the field includes Haiku’s Paige Alms, who won the inaugural women’s event last year.

The contest’s official forecast calls for waves of 25-35 feet, with sets potentially surpassing 40 feet.

Kai Lenny competes during the first round of the Peahi Challenge on Friday. -- World Surf League / RICHARD HALLMAN photo



At Haiku


Friday’s First-Round Results

Ian Walsh drops down the face of a massive wave. -- World Surf League / KEOKI SAGUIBO photo

Heat 1–1. Billy Kemper 21.51, 2. Cristian Merello 19.94, 3. Mark Healey 18.83, 4. Koa Rothman 17.84, 5. Francisco Porcella 11.37, 6. Jimel Corzo 0.20.

Heat 2–1. Makuakai Rothman 17.27, 2. Danilo Couto 14.84, 3. Greg Long 13.94, 4. Will Skudin 10.71, 5. Tom Lowe 7.54, 6. Aaron Gold 3.20 .

Heat 3–1. Ian Walsh 26.13, 2. Kai Lenny 19.37, 3. Ryan Hipwood 15.03, 4. Pedro Calado 14.71, 5. Trevor Carlson 13.57, 6. Nic Lamb 0.20.

Heat 4–1. Lucas Chianca 20.50, 2. Jamie Mitchell 17.87, 3. Albee Layer 12.41, 4. Joao De Macedo 11.64, 5. Nathan Florence 9.34, 6. Shaun Walsh 3.54.

Today’s Semifinal Matchups

Spectators watch Albee Layer from the shore. -- World Surf League / TONY HEFF photo

Heat 1–Billy Kemper, Cristian Merello, Mark Healey, Makuakai Rothman, Danilo Couto, Greg Long.

Heat 2–Ian Walsh, Kai Lenny, Ryan Hipwood, Lucas Chianca, Jamie Mitchell, Albee Layer.


Today’s Finals Matchup

Championship heat–Paige Alms, Justine Dupont, Andrea Moeller, Keala Kennelly, Felicity Palmateer, Bianca Valenti.

Mark Healey competes. -- World Surf League / RICHARD HALLMAN photo