Hawaii’s Barron Mamiya wins the first Championship Tour event of his career at Sunset Beach to become the best surfer in the world
SUNSET BEACH, Oahu, Hawaii/USA (Friday, February 18, 2022) – Today Brisa Hennessy (CRI) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) won the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach presented by SHISEIDO, the second leg of the World Surf League (WSL ) Championship Tour (CT), in six to eight foot surf. The win marks the first CT victory for both surfers, and for Hennessy, the first time a Costa Rican has won a CT event. Hennessy and Mamiya now move up to world No. 1 in the WSL rankings, while runners-up Malia Manuel (HAW) and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) occupy world No. 2.
Hennessy becomes the first Costa Rican to win the Championship Tour event.
Hennessy, 22, picked up her first CT victory after beating Manuel in the final and rookie Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) in the semifinals today at Sunset Beach.
A final with far-reaching implications unfolded as Hennesy and local Charger Manuel battled it out to see who would take the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. Hennessy started her first-ever CT final with an early lead, but Manuel’s 6.33 opener put her back in the running and quickly took the lead before making a priority error halfway through the case.
Hennessy’s 5.23 put her back in the lead and needed a 4.73 from Manuel before the final six minutes as the Kauian tried everything on a major maneuver and fell top to bottom. The Costa Rican representative found one last chance and shot a 7.00 to secure her a massive victory, the country’s first on the CT.
“I just dreamed of this moment and never thought it was possible,” Hennessy said. “It was an honor to surf against Malia. I feel like she has such an amazing connection here and just everyone in my life, thank you. That’s why I was able to do it today.
“You definitely reflect and think about all those times that brought you here and made you who you are,” Hennessy added. “I barely got back to CT. I had to go to the Challenger Series and it was an emotional rollercoaster. I think it’s the people who are behind you and in your village who make you who you are and who really are your light. My family, my friends, my mom and dad, my grandparents, Glen Hall who was with me from the start of my freshman year and watched me grow and saw me at my lowest. Costa Rica gave me so much that it literally gave me the gift of surfing. The gift of the ocean and the gift of connection to so many around the world. I hope I can carry the love of Pura Vida around the world and hopefully inspire people.
An immaculate run through the competition for eventual runner-up Manuel ended in dismay after he knocked out event threat and in-form rookie Gabriela Bryan (HAW) for their semi-final duel. Manuel’s last effort, a 7.33, was enough to secure the round victory and take him into his seventh career CT final. Manuel entered the season as a WSL wildcard and now sits at world No. 2.
“It was a tough end to my year to be so close,” Manuel said. It really gave me the motivation to prove to myself that I still wanted it and that I’m here. I’m back.”
Wildcard Mamiya knocks out CT veterans at the Men’s Hurley Pro Sunset Beach presented by SHISEIDO.
The men’s final also featured a battle for the yellow jersey between joker Mamiya and CT veteran Igarashi that went down in historic fashion. Mamiya is the first male wildcard to win an event since 2008.
A slow start gave way to fireworks as Igarashi put the pressure on the wild card after a right-of-way error from Mamiya, who recovered brilliantly with back-to-back scoring waves to rack up a total of 15.00 and left its seasoned competitor in need of a near-perfect 9.50. But the local North Shore competitor hadn’t finished yet and dropped the hammer on a major two-lap combination to earn an 8.83 and leave Igarashi in need of two more waves with just two minutes remaining.
“I can’t believe it, I literally can’t believe it,” Mamiya said. “I thought Pipe was going to be the event I was going to do really well in. I’m so comfortable at Pipe and I wasn’t really super prepared for this event, but in my mind I just had to m “adapt to all conditions. are and understand. It doesn’t even seem real. I want to thank all my friends and family, my mom and dad have sacrificed so much for me, and I also want to thank Shaun Ward. He has been with me since day one and he really helped me a lot through difficult times.
“At the end of last year, I was really disappointed with my performance in 2021,” added Mamiya. “I didn’t do any rounds on the QS and I was coming out of an injury. There were just a lot of things that were wrong with me. I wasn’t even on the Tour and I got into Pipe through a wildcard and got another wildcard here, so I’m just super happy.
Eventual runner-up Igarashi fought his way to the final after facing even the threat of 2019 Vans World Cup winner Jack Robinson (AUS) here at Sunset in phenomenal fashion. The 24-year-old then had to overcome Ethan Ewing (AUS), who looked unstoppable in his run to the event, but Igarashi managed to score a near-perfect 9.03 (out of a possible 10) and left the talent Australian in need of an excellent score before the last minutes.
The current world No. 2 will now seek his second career CT win before the MEO Portugal Pro after failing in Mamiya’s Cinderella story.
“I’m really, really happy,” Igarashi said. “Coming to Hawaii for so many years now, growing up in Huntington Beach, it’s always been the place where I’ve really needed to work. I’ve always struggled a lot and just with my surfing, and over years I had to really work on it Now just coming here and seeing so many familiar faces I have so many friends here now and it just means a lot because somewhere I felt so bad at comfortable before I can feel a little more comfortable and get some scores, and get some results.