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Hanneman picks up QS win at Ala Moana Bowls

Maui’s Eli Hanneman competes in the quarterfinals of the WSL Priority Destinations Pro on Tuesday at Ala Moana Bowls. Hanneman went on to win the men’s title of the QS 1,000 event. World Surf League / Tony Heff photos

The Maui News

Maui’s Eli Hanneman earned his first-ever Qualifying Series victory Tuesday, claiming the men’s title in the World Surf League Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Priority Destinations Pro presented by First Hawaiian Bank and Mastercard at Ala Moana Bowls on Oahu.

In pristine, 4- to 6-foot surf, the 19-year-old from Lahaina fended off fellow Maui teen Jackson Bunch and Oahu’s Joshua Moniz and Kai Martin in the final by opening with a massive, full rotation aerial assault and stomping the landing for a near-perfect 9.25. He all but shut the door on his competition with his backhand attack, combined with another brilliant rotation for a 9.00 to earn the highest heat total of the event.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve won a contest and it feels nice. It felt good to (go) out and do what I do,” Hanneman was quoted as saying in a WSL news release. “Sometimes when you surf contest and heats it kind of suppresses your capabilities, and you tend to hold back sometimes. It felt good to go out and put it all on the line.”

He now heads to the Challenger Series in South Africa with hopes of working his way to a spot on the Championship Tour.

Eli Hanneman paddles during his second-round heat in the WSL Priority Destinations Pro on Sunday at Ala Moana Bowls.

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 threats from fellow Maui competitors Ian Gentil, Tanner Hendrickson and Billy Kemper, among others. Bunch now sits at No. 2 on the regional QS rankings with a strong foothold toward CS qualification early on.

“It was kind of hard not to just give it everything, the waves were just firing,” said Bunch, who finished the final with a score of 16.75. “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.”

In the women’s final, Oahu’s Moana Jones Wong bested Pua Desoto, Coco Ho and Bethany Hamilton for her second career QS victory.

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