Haleiwa, Oahu/HAWAII — (Thursday, December 6, 2018) – Honolulu’s Ezekiel Lau (HAW) claimed victory today at the World Surf League (WSL) Vans World Cup of Surfing Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 event, the second stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, after a dramatic day of competition unfolded in solid 12-15ft. surf at Sunset Beach. Today’s triumph marks Lau’s second Vans World Cup win (his first in 2013) and a massive achievement for the Hawaiian after defeating an international field of 128 top-ranked athletes, including Jesse Mendes (BRA), who earned runner up, Joan Duru (FRA) in third and Griffin Colapinto (USA) in fourth.
Today’s win now sees Lau in contention for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (VTCS) Champion title, which will come down to the final event of the competitive surf season, the Billabong Pipe Masters, with a holding window from December 8 – 20. Lau sits behind Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Mendes respectively, after Parkinson’s exit in Round 4 today opened the door for the race to continue at Pipe.
“This is everything,” said Lau. “For me to perform at home in front of my home crowd and represent, it feels amazing. That’s why I like to come and perform at home, for everyone that supports me and puts so much time into what I do. I’m glad I was able to return the favor today. In my mind I already put myself in the Final so I just kept my composure and kept my focus and I got here and I’m glad I came out with a win.”
Lau claimed a second Vans World Cup of Surfing title after dominating finals day and climbed up to No. 12 on the QS. His current Championship Tour (CT) standing before the last event of the season at Pipeline virtually qualifies him for a third year on the elite tour, but the Hawaiian has put an incredible effort in the last few QS events as a safety net.
“It’s incredible, I’m back!” Lau said. “It took me a while to find my stride again, this is the tell all of the tale. I’ve been working so hard lately I’m just happy everything came together. My boards, Channel Island Surfboards have been working incredible, Britt Merrick’s been working with me very closely and I just want to thank everyone that supports me, my family, if they’re watching at home, I love you guys, I’m just so stoked.”
Lau was first to take action ten minutes into the 35-minute Final with an average score to start building momentum and take an early lead. While his opponents were struggling to find any big scoring material, the Hawaiian locked in a two-turn combo on a set wave for a 7.33 to solidify his lead. Maybe it was fatigue, or the complicated Sunset lineup still playing with Duru, Mendes and Colapinto’s nerves, but the three surfers couldn’t quite unlock the larger numbers.
Mendes managed to find a decent wave and stay on his feet for a 5.30 and second place as Lau walked away with the win, Duru finished third and Colapinto fourth.
Mendes’ final day at Sunset was another emotional ride as the Brazilian waited until the very last moments to guarantee his second season among the Top 34. While his first CT effort didn’t quite pan out as expected, a late-season charge on the QS and especially an epic finish with a 5th at the Hawaiian Pro and a runner-up at Sunset cemented his spot among the best in the world.
“It was a huge day,” Mendes said. “I’m just very thankful, in my first heat I dodged a bullet. If it wasn’t for God stopping the ocean I wouldn’t be here right now and probably not even qualified so thank you to Him, He made this all possible. And all the boys, they’re with me always.”
With the completion of the Vans World Cup today, the QS rankings are now final. Surfers in the following Top 11 have officially qualified for the 2019 CT, with Igarashi liberating one spot with his CT ranking. One more spot could also become available if Colapinto maintains his No. 20 rank after the upcoming Billabong Pipe Masters, which would go to QS No. 12 Lau.
2018 WSL Qualifying Series Final Top 10:
1 – Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
2 – Griffin Colapinto (USA)
3 – Seth Moniz (HAW)
4 – Ryan Callinan (AUS)
5 – Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
6 – Deivid Silva (BRA)
7 – Ricardo Christie (NZL)
8 – Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
9 – Jadson Andre (BRA)
10 – Jesse Mendes (BRA)
11 – Soli Bailey (AUS)
12 – Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
The surfing world now fixates its attention on the final professional competition of 2018, the Billabong Pipe Masters, which has a holding window from December 8 – 20 and takes place at world-famous Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore. This event not only determines the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champion title for 2018, but also the highly-coveted and hard-earned WSL World Title, which was won last year by local surfer John John Florence (HAW). Heading into the Billabong Pipe Masters, three athletes are in contention for world victory; Gabriel Medina (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA).
2018 Vans World Cup of Surfing Results
Athletes listed in 1st through 4th place
1st – Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.66
2nd – Jesse Mendes (BRA) 7.63
3rd – Joan Duru (FRA) 7.33
4th – Griffin Colapinto (USA) 4.67