With focus and aplomb, and a slashing turn that sent her flying above the lip of a wave, releasing all three fins in the tail of her board, Hawaii’s four-time world surfing champion Carissa Moore won the first women’s heat in round one of the historic, first-ever Olympic surf event at Tsurigasaki Beach on Sunday morning in Japan, which was Saturday afternoon in Hawaii.
As light onshore winds crumbling the tops of sluggish, grey 1.2 meter waves (about 1.5 feet Hawaiian) reminiscent of California’s Huntington Beach on a slow day, Moore was awarded 6.17 points for the maneuver, receiving a total 11.74 points for her two top waves, and will move directly on to the women’s round three.
Moore’s teammate and fellow Hawaii native John John Florence placed third in the first men’s heat but won his heat in round two, throwing a couple of air reverses and landing them with his trademark cool panache, advancing to the men’s third round.
Also surfing for the U.S., Floridian Caroline Marks placed first in the fifth women’s heat of the first round, while Californian Kolohe Andino placed second in his first round heat, both advancing to the third round.
Moore was clearly in the zone during her heat, with announcers remarking on her calm, composed face as she shredded her waves with speed, power and ambition that made the lackluster surf look better, but after winning she smiled and gave a happy little roar as she ran up the beach to Team U.S.A. greeters.
“What’d I end up with?” she asked.
Hearing her final score, she gave a nod.
“Okay. I just need to, like, come in quickly and get out in front of the wave better,” Moore said.
After sitting on his priority with a mature competitor’s sang-froid, Florence caught a peaky, warbly wave in the last minute of the heat, rode it all the way in with casual Hawaiian style, and ambled up the beach with a relaxed smile and not much to say.
The women’s third round is scheduled to start, waves permitting, Sunday at noon Hawaii time, and the men’s third round at 4:48 p.m.
Watch the Tokyo Olympics at nbc.com.