The 2017 Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Powered by GoPro has kicked off today in small clean waves at Shida Point, South of Tokyo. Although an international field has flocked to Japan for the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6000 event it was the Japanese surfers who dominated proceedings on Day 1 of competition.
Shun Murakami (JPN) was the morning’s standout easily accounting for Tom Clorac (FRA) and posting an impressive two wave heat total of 15.46 (out of a possible 20). This included a near excellent 7.93 (out of a possible 10) for a series of fast, fluid and powerful backhand top-to-bottom turns. The 20-year-old, who hails from Yoshihama Beach just South of Tokyo, is following the QS full time and is excited to be competing in Japan.
“This event is a great opportunity for me because I am very familiar with the waves here,” Murakami said. “There’s a long way to go here, but I am hopeful of a great result at this event which will help my Qualifying Series campaign.”
Other local surfers who stood out on day one included Trials winner Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) and Shuji Nishi (JPN) who both advanced to Round 2 by placing 2nd in their respective four man heats.
Ren Hashimoto (JPN) was the women’s standout in Round 1 posting an impressive 15.56 two wave heat total to easily win her heat ahead of San Maniwa (JPN) who also advanced in second place. Hinako Kurokawa, Minori Kawai and Emily Nishimoto also won their Round 1 heats on what was a great opening round for the locals.
Former CT surfer Yadin Nicol (AUS) is well known for his big wave prowess but today showed he has very competent small wave act as well winning his Round 1 heat and posting a 7.90 in his scoreline. “Wave choice is important today and I found that good wave early which set up the heat win,” Nicol said. “We come here expecting to surf good small waves and with a promising forecast I’m looking forward to the next rounds, my boards are good and I feel confident.”
Seeded surfers in Round 2 of both Men’s and Women’s are expected to surf tomorrow and with building a swell it should be a spectacular day. All eyes are sure to be on No. 1 seed Adriano de Souza (BRA). The 2015 WSL World Champion and current world number 2 ranked surfer is in great form coming off a big win in Brazil last week.
Kanoa Igarashi (USA) is the number 2 seed and will also attract enormous attention from the strong crowds building at this event. Officials will convene early and aim for a 7am start to Day 3.
The Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open QS6,000 will run from May 21 – 28. The event will be broadcast live at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App. Head to these locations for more information and images.