Gabriela Bryan (HAW) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) emerged victorious at the World Surf League (WSL) Sunset Pro presented by HIC, a regional Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 event, over their respective, top-tier fields with three-to-four foot swell pulsing into Sunset Point.
The 2022 Championship Tour (CT) standouts brought that confidence to the QS and showcased their dominant form throughout the event with phenomenal surfing.
Valuable, runner-up points belonged to Nora Liotta (HAW) and Billy Kemper (HAW) as they look to secure their places into the 2023 Challenger Series (CS).
Pictured: (L to R) Gabriela Bryan (HAW) emerges victorious among a stacked field of her regional competitors. Credit: © WSL / Heff
Bryan opened up the Final affair featuring stacked opponents including Challenger Series competitors Brianna Cope (HAW) and Nora Liotta (HAW), and event standout Eweleiula Wong (HAW). The 2022 Championship Tour (CT) rookie's 6.00 (out of a possible 10) went without a backup until the 11-minute mark when she and Wong had a 7.25 exchange, noting Wong's first scoring ride of substance, after Liotta's 6.50 edged her to the lead. (Full interview in video newsfeed)
But, Bryan's two-score combination had Liotta and her competitors in need of a brilliant answer as time expired, earning the former Pro Junior event winner's first Sunset QS win.
"It's so good to have a QS win under my belt," said Bryan. "My first heat gave me so much confidence even though I haven't surfed Vals (Reef) a lot, but you never know. The CT could be like that one day so the more heats, the more practice, the more better I'll be."
Pictured: Bryan's incredible showing on opening day laid down the foundation toward another Sunset Beach victory. Credit: © WSL
In 2019, Bryan solidified herself as an emerging star after a breakthrough win at the Sunset Open Pro Junior in solid conditions. Fast-forward two years and she made her dreams of qualifying a reality, becoming the 2022 CT Rookie of the Year, and taking that confidence back to the QS here at the Sunset Pro presented by HIC – accruing the event’s highest heat total of a 16.50 (out of a possible 20) in her debut.
A nail-biting men's Final provided a closing spectacle to the event with brilliant exchanges from eventual winner Mamiya, Billy Kemper (HAW), Shion Crawford (HAW), and Kai Paula (HAW). Mamiya's opening, excellent 8.00 went without a backup of substance until under the 10-minute to steal the lead from three-time Sunset victor Kemper with a 7.35. Paula, placed in a combination situation needing two new scores, and Crawford were left behind with mid-range scores as time was against them. (Full interview in newsfeed)
Mamiya held firm and claimed a second win in 2022 in his backyard of Sunset Beach to keep his momentum alive heading into the 2023 CT season.
"I'm super stoked to surf Sunset again in a contest and to get another win," said Mamiya. "It's been a super good event. The waves were small the first couple days, but the last day was super fun so I'm stoked to get some good waves."
Pictured: Right at home, Mamiya showed a glimpse of what he's capable of even in smaller conditions. Credit: © WSL
Eventual winner, 22-year-old Mamiya, entered this event as the man to beat, winning the CT Hurley Pro Sunset earlier this year, and didn’t lose that title on the way to a second-consecutive Sunset Beach Final.
Surfing in his backyard, Mamiya was right at home and earned wins in both his Round of 32 and Quarterfinal heats before advancing behind Crawford into the Final and taking a massive win ahead of the 2023 CT season.
Pictured: Nora Liotta's (HAW) brilliant showing earned her a valuable runner-up and capitalized on an event near home. Credit: © WSL
A valuable runner-up for Liotta pushes her up the rankings after battling her way to the Final. Liotta continues to show she’s one of Hawaii’s rising threats and notched an impressive Semifinal victory after advancing into Finals Day.
The 18-year-old chose to forego the Challenger Series event in Brazil and focus on regional success, and capitalized on the moment as she now prepares for the Challenger Series conclusion at Haleiwa.
"These events are so important because we only have so many events to get good results in," said Liotta. "Getting a good result here feels really good just for confidence as well. I haven't done very well in the Challenger Series, Sunset was vital just so I could get back on the Challenger next year."
Pictured: Billy Kemper (HAW) was ready for whatever Sunset Beach had to offer and locked in a brilliant runner-up. Credit: © WSL
Eventual runner-up Kemper's track record at Sunset is one the venue’s best with three wins headed into this event and despite smaller conditions, thrived under pressure to secure back-to-back, event Finals appearances. Kemper's persistence on Finals Day was relentless, advancing in each of his Round of 32, Quarterfinal, and Semifinal battles to show his fighting spirit is still one of the fiercest among his competitors.
The 32-year-old is ready for the road ahead with this result pushing him to 1,000 points on the regional rankings, but Kemper now sets his eyes on bigger waves.
"If there was one person I'd accept losing to it'd be Barron (Mamiya), he's been my training partner the last couple years under Kahea Hart," said Kemper. "After Barron won this event at the CT, he took a big step up in his surfing and really matured in all aspects. Now, there's one event on my mind and that's Jaws. I've put my entire life, everything into it and I get emotional just thinking about it."
Valuable Finishes For Finalists, Challenger Series Qualification Race Narrows
Cope entered this event, putting the Challenger Series (CS) on hold, to garner valuable points toward her regional QS ranking and made it worth her while with a Finals appearance. Wong pulled one of the event’s most notable upsets in her Quarterfinal debut, alongside Lucy Jarrard (ASM), by eliminating Moana Jones Wong (HAW), former Hawaii/Tahiti Nui No. 1, and continued that form through the Semifinals behind an in-form Liotta.
Eventual third-place finisher Crawford debuted in phenomenal fashion and kept that momentum going all the way to the Final, unleashing a 14.65 heat total in the Semifinals after advancing out of his Quarterfinal and Round of 32 affairs to start Finals Day. Paula made his statement in the Quarterfinals with an impressive 15.65 and backed it up in the Semifinals with another 15.95, but couldn't find that form in the Final and managed a fourth-place finish.
The event is also supported by the Hawaii Youth Surfing Development Organization (HYSDO), a local nonprofit working to support Hawaii’s next generation through career and competitive development, in and out of the water.
For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Women's Final Results:
1 - Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 13.25 1,000 points
2 - Nora Liotta (HAW) 11.00 800 points
3 - Eweleiula Wong (HAW) 10.50 650 points
4 - Brianna Cope (HAW) 5.25 600 points
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Men's Final Results:
1 - Barron Mamiya (HAW) 15.35 1,000 points
2 - Billy Kemper (HAW) 12.60 800 points
3 - Shion Crawford (HAW) 11.40 650 points
4 - Kai Paula (HAW) 10.05 600 points
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Women's Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Brianna Cope (HAW) 11.40, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.50, Mahulia Lima (HAW) 10.10, Erin Brooks (HAW) 7.40
Heat 2: Nora Liotta (HAW) 11.65, Eweleiula Wong (HAW) 11.45, Malia Lima (HAW) 9.30, Lucy Jarrard (ASM) 8.80
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Men's Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Shion Crawford (HAW) 14.85, Barron Mamiya (HAW) 12.50, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 12.45, Finn McGill (HAW) 10.50
Heat 2: Kai Paula (HAW) 15.95, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.65, Kainehe Hunt (HAW) 11.85, Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 7.90
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Men Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Finn McGill (HAW) 14.35, Shion Crawford (HAW) 12.85, Diego Ferri (HAW) 11.75, Kai Lenny (HAW) 11.25
Heat 2: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.00, Joshua Moniz (HAW) 12.60, Isaiah Moniz (HAW) 10.20, Luke Tema (HAW) 9.35
Heat 3: Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 9.10, Billy Kemper (HAW) 8.40, Eli Hanneman (HAW) 6.35, Sage Tutterow (HAW) 6.10
Heat 4: Kai Paula (HAW) 15.60, Kainehe Hunt (HAW) 14.40, Oliver Zietz (HAW) 10.65, Jackson Bunch (HAW) 8.25
Sunset Pro pres. by HIC Men Round of 32 Results:
Heat 1: Diego Ferri (HAW) 8.20, Luke Tema (HAW) 5.05, Rylan Beavers (HAW) 4.85, Jackson Dorian (HAW) NS
Heat 2: Finn McGill (HAW) 13.75, Isaiah Moniz (HAW) 13.25, Robert Grilho (HAW) 13.00, MaiKai Burdine (HAW) 12.75
Heat 3: Joshua Moniz (HAW) 12.20, Shion Crawford (HAW) 9.90, Cole Alves (HAW) 9.70, Gavin Klein (HAW) 6.15
Heat 4: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.50, Kai Lenny (HAW) 13.00, Tyler Newton (HAW) 10.65, Kekoa Cazimero (HAW) 6.60
Heat 5: Eli Hanneman (HAW) 12.00, Kai Paula (HAW) 11.70, Kai Martin (HAW) 11.25, Shiloh Tennberg (HAW) 9.15
Heat 6: Sheldon Paishon (HAW) 9.45, Oliver Zietz (HAW) 8.25, Gregg Nakamura (HAW) 7.70, Benji Brand (HAW) 6.95
Heat 7: Kainehe Hunt (HAW) 12.55, Sage Tutterow (HAW) 10.75, Liam Wilson (HAW) 9.30, Tanner Hendrickson (HAW) 8.60
Heat 8: Jackson Bunch (HAW) 16.20, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.15, Kylen Yamakawa (HAW) 12.35, Kainaru Kato (HAW) 6.65