Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro Men
World Surf League Men’s QS 1000 event
6 - 10 March, 2017
Tahiti's Luciani takes first while Maui's Olamana Eleogram finishes second
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 March, 2017 - Avatoru, Rangiroa Tuamotu Islands, Tahiti - The Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro saw a fitting final today as Tahiti’s Heremoana Luciani and Hawaii’s Olamana Eleogram went head to head for the win and showcased the profound talent pool within the World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region. Luciani, 27, fought his way to the podium all the way from Round One and established his reputation both as a dark horse and Rangiroa champion.
The 35-minute Final saw bumpy yet contestable conditions and competitors established their position in the lineup immediately, with Luciani sitting on the inside bowl and Eleogram favoring the point. The Tahitian posted the first solid score of the heat, a 6.75 for multiple frontside turns and took the lead, however Eleogram was close behind after nabbing the biggest barrel of the Final, which judges awarded a 6.90. The two paddled for positioning and shifted between the various peaks, but Luciani was in the ideal take-off zone for a clean walled-wave.
“I didn’t stress at all, just surf and enjoy,” said Luciani after the win. “I knew it was going to be my time… I know everyone was ripping, but I stuck to my game plan and did my best.” Luciani scored a 7.75 on his final ride of the heat for the win and cemented his name as a true Tahitian luminary.
Luciani and Eleogram have surfed together in the past during ISA competition, but the Tahitian has since moved to Lacanau, France for six months out of the year to operate his surf school. “Living in France to work as a surf monitor for six months and then I come back to Tahiti,” said Luciani. “I always want to work in surf or make the QS, but I don’t have that much money so I decided to go teach everybody instead.”
He competes every year at the Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro, but without any sponsors to help offset the cost of a competitive career, Luciani works and lives between Tahiti and France and competes regionally when he can. This year however, the surfer has his sights set on a slot into the Vans Triple Crown in November.
“For sure at the end of year, I will go to Hawaii… I am ready for everything,” he said.
Runner up Eleogram had an outstanding performance and advanced in first from every heat starting from Round Two. This is his first time competing at Rangiroa yet the surfer possessed a knack for wave selection and positioning throughout the event.
One of the most exciting heats of the day went to him and his brother, Makana Eleogram, both of Hana, Maui. The two made the 30-minute Quarterfinal look like a freesurf session, trading waves on the inside bowl and dropping mid-range scores for power hacks and barrels. Halfway through the heat, Makana was in the lead, which motivated older brother Ola to sit at the point and catch the big sets rolling through.
“It was great, it was fun, win or lose I was going to be stoked,” said Olamana. “I’m stoked Makana made it here, he is such a good surfer and doesn’t do contests, doesn’t have funding or anything so it was cool to have him come here and show everybody his talent. He’s really good and I have a lot of respect for him. His backside hammer turns were scaring me so I had to go up the point and get some barrels.”
Ola ended up scoring a 7.00 and a 7.50 for double overhead barrels, two of the bigger waves of the day, while Makana continued to rack up points on the inside. The brothers put on an impressive performance, especially considering Makana rarely competes, and showcased a friendly rivalry in the warm waters of Tahiti.
“It was really fun, but it was really competitive because he was beating me and I was just so nervous,” continued Ola. “He’s my younger brother by six years so couldn’t let him take me out. But I’m just really proud of Makana for coming here and hopefully be able to get into the Triple Crown if he keeps doing good in the rest of the events, the Papara one. He’ll probably be able to get into the HIC Pro now. He had no points whatsoever and it was just open spots for anybody for this contest so I told him to come and he asked his boss if he could skip work and he let him so it was awesome.”
The Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro was an excellent opportunity for first-timers to Rangiroa, like Olamana and Makana, to compete in the challenging right-handed reef break and meanwhile provided the occasion for a talented Tahitian to shine.
WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui and the Federation Tahitienne de Surf now moves to the punchy beach break of Papara on the main island of Tahiti for a variety of competitions that include Men, Women, Juniors and Longboard. The holding period is from March 12 – 18 and commences with an opening ceremony that celebrates the island nations’ cultures and the sport of surfing.
Surfers shown in order of 1st through 4th place. Athletes from Hawaii unless otherwise noted.
1st – Heremoana Luciani, 14.50
2nd – Olamana Eleogram, 11.40
Semifinal – 1st advances, 2nd = 3rd place
SF1: Olamana Eleogram, 11.50; O’Neill Massin (PYF), 9.70
SF2: Heremoana Luciani (PYF), 13.65; Jake Marshall (USA), 13.00
Quarterfinal – 1st advances, 2nd = 5th place
QF1: O’Neill Massin (PYF), Imaikalani deVault
QF2: Olamana Eleogram, Makana Eleogram
QF3: Jake Marshall (USA), Kaito Kino
QF4: Heremoana Luciani (PYF), Enrique Ariitu Turo (PYF)
Round 4 – 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 9th place, 4th = 13th place
H1: O’Neill Massin (PYF), Makana Eleogram, Logan Bediamol, Steven Pierson (PYF)
H2: Olamana Eleogram, Imaikalani deVault, Michael O’Shaughnessy, Benji Brand
H3: Kaito Kino, Heremoana Luciani (PYF), Jocelyn Poulou (PYF), Finn McGill
H4: Enrique Ariitu Turo (PYF), Jake Marshall (USA), Anthony Walsh, Elijah Gates
Round 3 – 1st and 2nd advance, 3rd = 17th place, 4th = 25h place
H1: O’Neill Massin (PYF), Imaikalani deVault, Kai Lenny, Jason Shibata
H2: Steven Pierson (PYF), Benji Brand, Cristobal De Col (PER), Miguel Blanco (PRT)
H3: Michael O’Shaughnessy, Makana Eleogram, Kala Willard, Tereva David (PYF)
H4: Olamana Eleogram, Logan Bediamol, Ariihoe Tefaafana (PYF), Chris Foster
H5: Jocelyn Poulou (PYF), Enrique Ariitu Turo (PYF), Heifara Tahutini (PYF), Tom Dosland
H6: Finn McGill, Jake Marshall (USA), Taumata Puhetini (PYF), Dante Silva
H7: Anthony Walsh, Heremoana Luciani (PYF), Sunny Garcia, Sheldon Paishon
H8: Elijah Gates, Kaito Kino, Keoni Yan, Kaimana Jaquias