Kemper edges Gentil for Sunset Open title

Billy Kemper is carried off the beach by fellow finalist Ian Walsh (left) and Eli Olson after winning the Sunset Open on Tuesday. World Surf League photos

The Maui News

Maui surfers posted a 1-2-3 finish at the Sunset Open on Tuesday on Oahu’s North Shore, with Billy Kemper edging out Ian Gentil 15.94-15.70 in the final.

Kemper opened with a 7.67 and added an 8.27 before surfing a throw-away 7.30 in winning the World Surf League qualifying series 1,000 event.

“To kick off the year like this, it feels absolutely amazing,” Kemper said during the awards presentation. “I put just as much time out at Sunset as anyone and I’m just really stoked to end up on top. 1,000 or 10,000, for us here in Hawaii this means everything and I’m really stoked and grateful.”

Ian Walsh (13.64), who denied Kemper a third straight victory at the Big Wave Tour’s Peahi Challenge in October, finished third and Oahu’s Barron Mamiya (7.93) was fourth.

Billy Kemper competes in the final Tuesday.

Gentil had rides of 6.93 and a closing 8.77 that was the highest-scoring wave in the final, but it wasn’t enough to earn him his first professional win.

“I’ve surfed against Billy a couple times, I can’t remember if I’ve ever beat him so I really want to get that done soon, at some point,” Gentil said. “It was cool to surf against Ian and Billy and Barron. Barron rips out here, he surfs 8-footers like they’re 4-footers, it was a stacked final.”

The next event in the WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region is the Volcom Pipe Pro — the holding period starts Monday.

Ian Gentil competes during Tuesday’s Sunset Open final on Oahu’s North Shore.