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Hawai‘i’s Ezekiel Lau Wins Vans World Cup of Surfing

December 7, 2018, 11:46 AM HST · Updated December 7, 11:46 AM
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Honolulu’s Ezekiel Lau claimed victory at the World Surf League Vans World Cup of Surfing, securing his opportunity to win the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Championship title.

Lau’s triumph is his second Vans World Cup win and a massive achievement 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.

Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau accepts his trophy at the victory ceremony for the Vans World Cup of Surfing. PHOTO Credit: © WSL / Keoki SOCIAL : @wsl @photokeoki. 

This is the second stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, where a heated competition unfolded in solid 12-15 ft. surf at Sunset Beach.

Lau sat behind Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Mendes respectively, after Parkinson’s exit in Round 4 on Thursday opened the door for the race to continue at Pipe.

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“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.”

This win now sees Lau in contention for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing 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 to 20.

Ezekiel Lau in semifinal 2 of the Vans world Cup of Surfing. CREDIT: © WSL / Heff SOCIAL : @wsl @Tony_heff. 

Lau claimed a second Vans World Cup of Surfing title after dominating finals day and climbed up to No. 12 on the QS.

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His current Championship Tour 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 in the final heat. Nearly ten minutes into the 35-minute final, Lau’s average score was building momentum quickly, allowing him to 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.

Mendes managed to find a decent wave and stay on his feet for a 5.30 and secure second place for himself as Lau walked away with the win. Meanwhile, Duru finished third and Colapinto fourth.

Mendes in Round 4 of the Vans World Cup of Surfing. CREDIT: © WSL / Heff SOCIAL : @wsl @Tony_heff. 

On the final day at Sunset, Mendes waited until the end of the heat to secure his second season among the Top 34.

While his first Championship Tour effort didn’t quite pan out as expected, Mendes’ efforts this season earned him a 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.”

A third place spot for France’s Duru failed to secure him a spot at re-qualifying for the QS. But with one final chance at Pipe in a couple of days, the goofyfoot still has hopes to make the CT’s Top 22 and stay on tour.

Duru pulls in to a closeout during the Vans World Cup of Surfing. CREDIT: © WSL / Heff SOCIAL : @wsl @Tony_heff. 

“I hope I could win to qualify before Pipe, but this is a really good warm up so I’m just going to keep the good vibes,” said Duru. “When I came here when I was young that was the goal, to make a final, but I never had too many good results here. Last year I did Semi’s in Haleʻiwa so I was really stoked and this year I did semi’s at the QS at Pipe and a final here, it’s amazing.”

Colapinto was one of the standouts all event but just couldn’t find any sort of rhythm in the Final and was left hanging in last place with a 4.67 combined heat total. The Californian has sealed a spot for next year through his excellent QS season and could free one more spot if he manages to stay in his current position on the CT or above.

Copatino in Semifinal 1 of the Vans World Cup of Surfing. CREDIT: © WSL / Heff SOCIAL : @wsl @Tony_heff. 

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 Championship Tour, 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.

Below is a list of Championship Tour Qualifying Surfers:

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 to 20 and takes place at world-famous Pipeline on Oʻahu’s North Shore.

That 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.

Heading into the Billabong Pipe Masters, three athletes are in contention for world victory; Gabriel Medina (BRA), Julian Wilson (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA).

The event can be livestreamed at http://www.worldsurfleague.com/ or http://www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com/.

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