Hawai‘i’s Gillette Wins Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro
The World Surf League men’s Qualifying Series Air Tahiti Rangiroa Pro QS 1,000 crowned Gavin Gillette its 2019 victor for his maiden QS victory.
Gillette battled with Marco Mignot in an intense final after the pair of competitors smashed their way through Quarterfinal and Semifinal bouts, but the day ultimately belonged to Gillette. Two-to-three foot clean surf offered plenty of scoring potential and the Kīlauea, Hawaiʻi, native stayed busy in each heat to secure his first win after two career Final appearances.
“Third one is the charm and feeling good is an understatement right now — first win and first time in Rangiroa, I’m stoked,” Gillette said. “It hasn’t even really sunk in yet. I’ve been feeling good every day but this is pretty cool. I’ve got some good buddies supporting me and I couldn’t ask for much more.”
The 32-year-old posted an impressive 16.10 (out of a possible 20) heat total, starting with an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10) or higher. Gillette also contested one of the event’s highlight heats against Kainehe Hunt in their Quarterfinal battle which came down to the final ten seconds in which Gillette’s powerful forehand earned him a buzzer-beating win; posting an event-best 16.2. Gillette then moved on to face one of surfing’s brightest upcomers, Eli Hanneman, in a tight heat that came down to wave selection. Now, Gillette moves into 2019 with a renewed vigor and prepares for next week at Papara.
“The first wave I wasn’t sure if I was going to go because it was small but it had that perfect shape and I teed off a couple of times. Then I just wanted to sit and be patient. I knew I wasn’t set knowing that kid (Mignot) is dangerous. He could throw an 8.70, all he needed was the wave so I was still nervous until the last wave. But, the heat with Kainehe was my favorite heat, we were going back and forth, and it just felt like a good surf back home with him. It’s one day at a time and keep a good routine heading into Papara. You learn the most with losses and I’ve lost a lot so you can’t ahead of yourself.”
The Papara Pro Open Tahiti is the next stop for these competitors. The Papara Open Pro Tahiti event window begins Sunday, March 10, and runs through March 15 at Papara, Tahiti.