Joe Surf: Igarashi steps up big time, again

Kanoa Igarashi apparently wasn't interested in any drama.

The Huntington Beach surfer found himself among those surfers on the bubble when it came to re-qualifying for next year's World Championship Tour (WCT). His current ranking of No. 24 on the WCT is just below being among the required top 22.

And last week, his No. 8 ranking on the Qualifying Series (QS) was barely within the top 10 needed to return to the world's top surfing series.

Then Brazil happened.

It was in Brazil last year where Igarashi won a contest on the QS and clinched a spot on this year's WCT. Last week, Igarashi did it again in Brazil, winning the QS6000 Hang Loose Pro at Joaquina Beach, Florianopolis, Brazil, clinching a spot on the 2017 WCT.

The 6,000 points moved him to No. 1 on the QS, with a couple 10,000-point contests in Hawaii remaining. Igarashi, who turned 19 on Oct. 1, will surf in those contests, as well as the final WCT contest at Pipeline in Hawaii, but will be able to do so without looming thoughts of needing to surf well in order to re-qualify.

"It feels incredible to win again in Brazil," Igarashi told worldsurfleague.com. "It's really similar to last year, when I needed a good result to qualify for the CT. Now I can go to Hawaii without any extra pressure and just have fun there."

The win in Brazil was Igarashi's second win on the QS this season — he also won the Pantin Classic in Spain in early September. The QS has been Igarashi's salvation this year, as he has been able to advance past Round 3 only once in the WCT's 10 contests for far.

He has, however, been one of only four WCT surfers to advance beyond Round 2 in every contest, joining world champ John John Florence, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferriera.

Winning the Hang Loose Pro was no small feat. While WCT contests are made up of 36 surfers, QS contests typically have many more, and the Hang Loose Pro started with 144 surfers entered to compete.

Along the way, Igarashi won two four-man heats, won a three-man heat, then won two-man heats over Marco Giorgi, Soli Bailey (quarterfinals), Griffin Colopinto (semifinals) and Jadson Andre (final).

 

DANGER AT THE PIER

While surfing is something so many love and enjoy, we are reminded every now and then of how dangerous it can be. Not only from the dangers of the ocean itself, but also surfing near a pier.

Just this past Sunday a surfer reported to be in his 60s was pulled out of the water by other surfers, the man unconscious after possibly getting slammed into the Huntington Beach Pier.

According to reports, the man was paddling out when he was hit by a set wave and pushed towards the pier. In an interview with surfline.com, Marine Safety Lieutenant Eric Dieterman said a number of observers witnessed what happened.

"Apparently, according to what some bystanders said, they saw the guy paddling out," Dieterman told Surfline. "He tried to make his way over a set wave. I guess he got pitched and ended up underneath the pier. There were signs that he may have struck the pier, but nobody knows for sure."

Neither the identity of the man nor his condition was available as of Tuesday night.

What makes the incident more disturbing was the timing of it. It took place around 5 p.m., when Huntington's City Lifeguards were just clocking out. It may or may not have made a difference, but the scheduled hours of the lifeguards had been shortened just that weekend.

"Thank God for the guys out in the lineup who were surfing and able to take care of something like this," Dieterman told Surfline. "But it shouldn't be those guys' task to do that. There have been budget cuts and they've had an impact on our hours. During summertime it goes from 6 a.m. to 12 in the evening. And then now, it just started Saturday, we go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m."

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JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at joe@juvecreative.com.

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