Current WSL Women’s World Champ Soleil Errico competing for Team USA in the ISA’s Aloha Cup. Pic: Jiminez
Antoine Delpero working an ankle-snapper for Team France. Pic: Jiminez
Frank Murphy milking a double-over-ankle wall for Team Australia. Pic: Jiminez
Viva Team France! Pic: Sean Evans
How it happened.
1 June 19
News release from the ISA: Biarritz, France, May 31, 2019 - With two minutes remaining in the ISA Aloha Cup, Edouard Delpero scored a 7.6 point ride to complete a come-from-behind victory for Team France, awarding the host nation the first Gold Medals of the 2019 ISA World Longboard Surfing Championship in Biarritz, France.
Delpero entered the water with Team France trailing the 2018 ISA Aloha Cup Gold Medal Team USA and needed a solid score to overcome USA's Kai Sallas. Delpero and Sallas vied for position and the experience of the Biarritz local Delpero at Côte des Basques prevailed, as Delpero earned a two-wave total of 12.27 and Sallas was unable to find any scoreable waves. France passed USA to claim the Gold Medal.
The local crowed erupted with cheers as Edouard Delpero sprinted back to the starting box, continuing the celebration when the final announcement was made of France having won the Gold Medal.
Sallas, the defending Men's Gold Medalist, earned a 1.1 on his first wave, compounding the pressure to come up with a high final wave score to match Delpero. The ocean didn't deliver a wave that could produce a high score and Sallas never caught a final wave, not crossing the finish line and resulting in a 5-point penalty for USA. In addition, USA suffered another 5-point penalty for an athlete removing the competition lycra during the final, resulting in USA falling into the Bronze Medal position.
Japan took the Silver Medal and Brazil the Copper.
Antoine Delpero, the two-time ISA Gold Medalist, expressed his joy of Team France winning the Aloha Cup Gold.
"That was great drama. We got lucky that a wave came to Edouard at the end, but to his credit, he was really patient and surfed the wave well.
"I am proud for all the surfers of the French Team. It's the first Gold Medal for us and we are going to try to keep it going and hopefully win another one in the overall ranking at the end of the event."
The ISA Aloha Cup is a tag-team relay featuring the top seven overall ranking nations from the 2018 edition of the event plus the host nation of France. Each team is comprised of two men and two women, where each surfer catches two waves in their leg of the 50 minute relay. Competitors must sprint back to the starting box on the beach and physically tag in their next teammate. The top two finishing teams of the Semifinals face off in the finals for the medals.
The eight teams competing in the relay were USA, Great Britain, Australia, and France in the first Semifinal and Peru, Brazil, Japan, and Argentina in the second Semifinal.
France and USA breezed through to move through to the Final. USA's Cole Robbins carried the load for his team, scoring two waves of 9.17 and 6.9 points. Antoine and Edouard Delpero led Team France with solid surfing, including a 7.73 ride from the older brother Antoine.
The second Semifinal was dominated by Team Japan's all-around performance. Kai Hamase earned a heat-high 7-point ride as Japan advanced with a comfortable 10-point lead. Brazil followed in the second advancing position ahead of Argentina and Peru.
In the Final, USA and France jumped out to the lead, both getting off to strong starts. Antoine Delpero started Team France off with two excellent waves of 9.07 and 8.77. USA's women competitors, Lindsay Steinriede and Soleil Errico kept pace with France, each scoring waves in the 6-point range.
As France and USA sent their final competitors to the water, USA held the lead, looking to repeat as Aloha Cup Gold medalists. USA's anchor Sallas had difficulty finding waves with scoring potential, while France's Edouard Delpero used his local knowledge to obtain the necessary scores in meager conditions to take the lead for France.
With two days remaining in the event window, the individual World Champions are set to be crowned on Sunday at Côte des Basques with a rejuvenated swell set to arrive.
Team France and USA are tied for first, the last teams with all four surfers remaining, while Peru, Brazil, and Australia trail closely behind with three surfers each.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
"The waves were small today, however, the ISA Aloha Cup was nothing but exhilarating. This unique, team format competition within the World Championship requires the utmost teamwork, camaraderie, and strategy to emerge with the Gold.
"Congrats to Team France for using their strong teamwork to their advantage and earning the first Gold Medals of the event.
"Now we head into the final weekend, where history will be made on Sunday when we crown the Men's and Women's Gold Medalists in this record-breaking edition of the event."