Frederico Morais Wins Hawaiian Pro, Qualifies for 2020 Championship TourNov 24, 2019
Portugal’s Frederico Morais (PRT) won the Hawaiian Pro today with sure-footed power surfing and a veteran edge over Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) who placed second, third and fourth respectively in the Final at Haleiwa Ali’i Beach. Today’s victory cements Morais’ status back on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) and the lead on the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title race. The Hawaiian Pro is the second-to-last Men’s WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 event and first gem of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which now moves to Sunset Beach for the Vans World Cup of Surfing.
Morais’ career launched in 2016 when he scored back-to-back runner-up results at the Hawaiian Pro and Vans World Cup and qualified for his first run on the CT. That same year he ranked third in the Vans Triple Crown title race, but today’s achievement is a career-best. He needed to place third or higher in the Hawaiian Pro to guarantee a place back among the world’s best and after gaining 10,000 points today, Morais jumped up five spots and is now sitting No. 1 on the QS.
“It’s so good to be back in Hawaii,” Morais said. “After three finals, two second places, a fourth place, it definitely feels good to win and to be back here in Hawaii and back on tour, that was my main goal this year. It was a really tough one last year when I couldn’t fight back at Pipeline with an injury on my ankle. Coming back this year has been an amazing journey.”
Heading into the final QS event of the year Morais is pressure-free. The focus is now on a maiden Vans Triple Crown title after coming close in 2016 and also picking up the Vans Triple Crown Rookie Award in 2013.
“That would be a dream,” Morais said on winning a Vans Triple Crown title. “In 2016 when I first qualified I was fighting for the Triple Crown as well and Sunset is a wave I love. Everyone is looking good, there are some really tough opponents, so just going to keep surfing and enjoying myself.”
The power surfer was in-form throughout the event as Haleiwa threw every condition at surfers over five days of competition. In the Final, Morais was patient and waited for nearly half the heat before posting his first score, a 6.00 for two powerful turns.
Morais is Number 1 in the Hawaiian Pro and on the QS. Photo: WSL / Keoki
Runner-up Fioravanti stayed busy in the four-man Final and earned the best single wave score of the heat, a 7.67 for a two-turn combination that moved him from third to first. However, Morais answered back with detonating force on multiple maneuvers that judges awarded a 6.77 and he took the lead again.
A dislocated shoulder sidelined Fioravanti for half of the 2019 CT season, but he blasted back from injury only two months ago by earning third place at the Quiksilver Pro France, Men's CT stop No. 9 out of 11. Today’s second place finish sees him move up 138 spots on the QS ratings to No. 36, but his sights are set on a Vans Triple Crown title.
“The Triple Crown is the main goal, and I’m really happy,” Fioravanti said. “It’s been a tough year to come to Hawaii and do this. I pretty much have a Hawaiian family now cheering for me here, I couldn’t be happier.”
Fioravanti looked strong and energized. Photo WSL / Heff
Fioravanti stayed focused in the lineup today but was unable to find a backup score to better his 3.83 and ended the competition with 8,000 points. Third-placing surfer McGillivray had the weight of qualification on his shoulders, as a win would have officially gained him his first year on the CT. But he surfed with casual confidence and found a barrel in the Final to lock in a 5.83, his high score of the heat.
The 22-year-old from Jeffrey’s Bay took on a veteran field in the Semifinals and eliminated two-time Hawaiian Pro winner Michel Bourez (PYF) and eleven-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) en route to the Final. Stealthily stacking the results, McGillivray is in a strong position heading into the Vans World Cup, where his best result was a Quarterfinal finish in 2018.
With only seconds remaining in the Final, fourth-place finisher Ewing made a last-ditch effort to advance, but could not back up his 6.40 score. The Australian seemed poised to take the win given his sharp surfing from the onset of the Hawaiian Pro; He won four of six heats and scored a near-perfect 9.00 on the biggest day of surf during Round 4. With a Vans Triple Crown Rookie Award under his belt, Ewing will move onto Sunset Beach with determination to finish in the top ten on the QS.
Hawaiian Pro finalist, Australia's Ethan Ewing. Photo: WSL / Keoki
The most anticipated Quarterfinal heat of the day featured Morais, Slater, Hawaii hopeful Barron Mamiya (HAW) and Mitch Crews (AUS) but only saw waves trickle into the lineup, which created heavy pressure as competitors moved around for prime positioning. Slater earned the best wave of the heat, an 8.33 for textbook surfing with a variety of maneuvers including a big carving turn to open the ride followed by a small barrel. With control and flow, Slater took the lead as Morais moved through the paces, Mamiya waited with priority and Crews tumbled under stress.
Mamiya came into the Hawaiian Pro in the No. 12 position on the QS with 15,380 points and now increases his ranking to No. 10 and 17,600 points. With a fifth-place finish in 2017 at the Vans World Cup, Mamiya will be counting on another strong result to qualify for his first year on the CT.
Mamiya moves onto Sunset Beach, a comfortable venue for the North Shore native. Photo: WSL / Keoki
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing now moves seven miles up the North Shore to Sunset Beach for event No. 2, the Vans World Cup of Surfing. With a holding window from November 25 - December 7, contest organizers are targeting tomorrow, Monday, November 25, to kick-off the competition as the WNW swell continues to provide contestable, and arguably bigger surf to the lineup at Sunset.
Sunset Beach, firing this afternoon. We are hopeful for an event start tomorrow. Photo: Dias