International Surfing Association
Grande Plage, Biarritz France
20 - 28 March 2017
Williams Finishes Seventh, Men Get Underway in France
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 23 May, 2017 - New Zealand Surfing Team member Ella Williams finished seventh at the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games overnight falling just short of a berth in the final against world class performers.
The 22-year-old surfer from Whangamata battled extremely small and inconsistent conditions in the semifinals early on day three of the event. Her World Tour opponents Pauline Ado and Johanne Defay, both of France, progressed through the semifinal and went on to place one-two in the final to secure gold and silver plus give France an early lead on the team standings.
Williams’ result has helped New Zealand to fourth place overall after three days of the event. Williams finished fourth in the semifinal requiring 5.90 to advance. However after persistent paddling up and down the beach to find a decent wave, Williams was left waveless out the back.
The result improves on her ninth placing in 2016 but falls short of the two podium finishes she has achieved in 2013 and 2015. The event’s focus now shifts to the Open Men’s Division which entered the water for the first time on day three. Kiwis in action included JC Susan (Dun) and Zen Wallis (Piha).
Susan made a very slow start to the event waiting for any wave that had a little more size and enough power to move his big frame. The low heat totals saw Susan only just holding down second place nearing the end of the heat when he finally caught the wave he had been looking for to post a seven point ride and move into first place.
“I bumped up my board volume before the event as I heard it is often small at this time of the year” said Susan of the conditions. “Normally I don't surf waves this small but I have had a fair bit of training at the Mount” he added of his original hometown Mount Maunganui.
By the time Wallis surfed his heat, the onshore winds had returned and the swell started to build making the ocean state completely different to the morning. Wallis posted a 9.63 point heat total to advance in second place behind Panamanian surfer Diego Salgado.
“After a delay over the full tide, the event resumed and looked completely different. The swell picked up with the strong onshore and became messy and random but a lot more waves were coming through and I am stoked to get through that first round” said Wallis
The New Zealand Team are one of 47 nations competing at the event. The record number of entries meant that only two Kiwi males surfed while Paul Moretti (Mur) and Taylor Hutchison (Rag) will have to wait until day four to contest their first heat.
“It's awesome having so many teams competing this year but with so many competitors they have had to change the format to have only one round of requalifying heats and then straight knockout rounds after that. We're looking forward to supporting Paul and Taylor through their heats in the bigger waves tomorrow” Wallis continued.
The New Zealand Team has been taken in by the coastal township of Bidart located just north of Biarritz. The team were welcomed into the friendly community thanks to a Kiwi connection and have been treated royally since and have enjoyed extra support at the beach.
The World Surfing Games are being held at Biarritz in the south of France from the 20th – 28th May. A record 47 nations are participating at the event as the sport prepares for Tokyo 2020 and the Olympics for the first time.
New Zealand’s ranking of eighth in 2016 secures a berth in the Aloha Cup Tag Team event which includes the top eight nations at the event. New Zealand placed fourth in the 2016 Aloha Cup.