Waikiki local Kai Sallas, 29, won the 88 Tees Pro-Am Division at the 26th Annual China Uemura Longboard Surfing Classic.
The waves were contestable, but small, at Queen’s. Sallas, who was raised in the surf off Kuhio Beach, found the necessary rides that provided long nose-riding sections to capture victory.
"It was glassy like always, small like always," Sallas said. Fortunately, the final was held Friday during low tide, which made the waves better, he said. Results were announced late that night.
"Low tide heats are good, but once it hits high tide there’s too much water and the ocean goes dead flat," he said. "(The finalists were) lucky because we got a low-tide final with a little bit of an incoming push (of swell), so there were some waves and a lot of paddle battling out here like always."
Sallas said there was some rail and shin bumping in the lineup. The four finalists — Sallas, Keegan Edwards, Kamu Auwae and Kapono Nahina — jockeyed for position in the 3-foot wave face heights.
Sallas used a traditional longboarding approach, riding a wider and thicker board. This allowed him to perch on the tip of his board longer than the competition.
"Personally, I like to ride a bigger board, something that can nose ride good," said Sallas of his winning strategy. "It’s hard to do turns when you’re going so slow, so I rely on getting to the nose and getting on the set waves."
Edwards finished second, Auwae was third and Nahina fourth.
While Auwae missed a win in the Pro-Am Division, he still left Queen’s victorious, winning the King Surf Hawaii Stand-up Paddle Surf Men’s Division. He defeated his younger brother, Kekoa Auwae, who got fourth place with Atilla Jobaygi in third and Danny Talamonte second.
On the women’s side of the SUP division, Queen’s local Jen Koki emerged victorious, followed by runner-up Geodee Clark, Vanina Walsh and Doreen Teramae.
Today is the last day of competition for amateur divisions. They will be surfing in their respective final heats at Kuhio Beach.
The event is a benefit fundraiser for the Shriner’s Hospital for Kids.