Article courtesy of Alexis Rovira, from The Kiteboarder Magazine
Day 3 of the 2019 Masters of the Ocean started with clear blue Caribbean skies that greeted competitors early in the morning. The first heats of the day began with the overall surf which included Brian Talma, Christopher Bünger and Maarja Kivistik. Christopher took off on the first wave of the heat and kept the pace high. He linked his turns and outscored fellow competitors on the bigger sets rolling in to finish first. Brian, who took second in the heat, had to work hard for his waves; it was like the ocean went flat around him. Maarja had no better luck and came in a disappointing third.
Semifinals of overall SUP heat one included Zane Schweitzer, Brian Talma, Fiona Wylde and Franklin Mieses Montain. Brian, having just finished the previous heat, was all warmed up and ready to begin again. Zane scored early on with good waves which helped him win the heat and advance to the finals. Brian snuck in a couple of keepers as well with flowing cutbacks which also propelled him into second and helped secure a spot in the finals. Fiona fought hard during the heat catching smaller, but more technical, waves and finished third. Franklin mostly kept to the right and did find a few peaks, but couldn’t quite get the waves he needed.
In Semifinals heat two of the overall SUP competition was MacRae Wylde, Samuel Perez-Hults, Brandon Stanford and Luciano Gonzalez. Brandon stuck to a game plan that work well for him and secured him first place in the heat. Both Luciano and Samuel shadowed each other in the heat, going wave for wave with each of them taking the lead for second place a number of times. As the final minutes finished, Luciano held onto second and Samuel came in third.
Contest organizers made the decision to run the first Semifinals of overall surf which included Zane Schweitzer, Francis Gonzalez, Brandon Stanford and Franklin Mieses Montain. All four surfers were keen to advance and moved throughout the lineup in a methodical way like chess pieces. Francis scored the first wave and looked as if he’d found the right spot for the better ones. Brandon caught a fantastic first wave that made everyone cheer from the beach. Zane held back, looking for bigger ones and was rewarded with a few that sealed his position in second place. Brandon found another great wave and ended the heat in first place. Franklin got some waves but they were not enough for him to outscore Francis who ended up in third place.
Heat two of the overall surf semifinals had MacRae Wylde, Samuel Perez-Hults, Fiona Wylde and Luciano Gonzalez. After watching the last heat, all four riders paddled to the North end of the competitor’s area in hopes of finding better waves selections. This turned to be a plus and minus for riders, better waves, but far less of them. Luciano, who has surfed this spot thousands of times, had the best read on the conditions and managed to rack up two good waves straight away. This left the other three scrambling to make do with whatever remaining waves came in during the heat. Knowing her dad was going to give one inch, Fiona stayed more on the inside and that strategy paid off with a second place finish. Samuel stayed clear of both Wyldes and came in third.
The overall SUP losers round then ran with Fiona Wylde, MacRae Wylde and Samuel Perez-Hults having just come out of the last heat that had been held. Franklin Mieses Montain, who was not in last heat, had a fresh set of legs and would try to use that to his advantage. Fiona was still warmed up and knew where to find the right ones and scored two top waves the kept her in the lead during the whole heat. Samuel had a few paddle battles with Franklin and managed to get the better of him which resulted in him finishing in second place. Franklin, who was not to be disheartened, switched strategies and finished third. MacRae was exhausted but in the end, still managed to catch a few decent waves.
The finals of the overall SUP division were up next as the midday sun blazed down on the athletes about to start their heat. The growing crowd cheered as Zane Schweitzer, Brian Talma, Brandon Stanford and Luciano Gonzales entered the water. From the beginning, you just knew that they were all going to put everything on the line. Luciano grabbed a quick score first, followed by Brandon. Brian moved out back and caught a bigger set wave to wow the crowd. Zane somehow managed to catch a wave that looked like it was going to close out, but somehow managed hit he lip of the wave and bust out the back fins of the board. This sent the crowd into a wildly excited state and fellow competitors all turned to see what had happened. This moved the dynamic of the heat a notch higher and Brandon, unfazed, moved quickly to catch a bigger wave that he went top to bottom on. Brian then moved in and secured a good scoring wave that was sure to help his two wave heat total. In the meantime, Luciano kept busy with at least three to four waves, trying each time to better the previous one. As the heat moved towards the final minutes, each of the riders moved to catch a few waves before the buzzer went off. Final results of this heat will be announced at the awards ceremony.
The second to the last heat of the day was the losers round of the overall surf division with Samuel Perez-Hults, MacRae Wylde, Francis Gonzalez and Franklin Mieses Montain. With the crowd pumped up from the last heat, it gave those riders in the water a bit of a mental boost. Samuel found a fun-sized wave first and got a high score right away. MacRae would not give up the fight and also caught a good sized wave that he worked all the way to the inside. Franklin saw a wave out back and desperately tried to paddle into to it, but came up a few strokes short. The lead changed hands a few times in between all four of them and at one point you wondered who was in the lead. By the end of the heat, Frances had taken first, samuel came a close second and MacRae finished in third.
The final heat of the day was the finals of overall kite division that included Francis Gonzalez, Samuel Perez Hults and Luciano Gonzalez. With all the riders already in the lineup as the buzzer went off, all three riders snagged a wave a piece. With such fast-paced action, it was hard to keep track of each of the riders. On a few occasions, all three competitors were on a wave and going turn for turn with fans of spray flying high. As soon as you took your eyes off one, you were quickly drawn in on another rider’s wave. Each one bolting back out back to catch the next wave with fierce speed and determination. Backside hacks, full frontal top to bottom turns and fins free drawn out power slides came and went quickly in the heat.
With such a blur of activity, it was anyone’s guess who was in the lead at any given point during the whole finals event. Everyone watching all agreed that this final was one for the books. As the horn blew for the last time and the three mighty warriors came in, a big round of applause erupted. Winners of this heat will be announced at closing ceremony.