Day 1 of the inaugural Hainan Classic, an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star World Tour event, has been a clear testament to the fact that any preconceptions about what the country couldn’t or wouldn’t offer as far as waves were entirely incorrect.
At first call, the sets were being estimated in the three- to five-foot range, but with the swell still filling in, the final heats saw waves with solid six-foot faces.
As Dane Jordan, the general manager of ASP Australasia, put it: “It’s safe to say it’s pumping out there.”
Nic Muscroft (AUS) was one of many stand-out heat winners today.
“I got a bit of confidence after surfing this break over the past week,” said Muscroft, after winning his Round of 64 heat with one of highest combined scores of the day (16.5). “It’s bigger so it’s got some good sections, but it’s breaking a little wide of the bank on some of them so it’s a little bit fatter, but if you get the right one it will just keeping going.”
Experience certainly played a role on Day 1, with the three top scores going to surfers who have been here for a week competing in the Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Festival of Surfing presented by Quiksilver.
Mettias Felix (BRA) and Marc Lacomare (FRA) have both had more than a week to familiarize themselves with the different sections of the wave, surfing this super consistent wave all day every day and both put that knowledge to use, being among the few surfers to effectively execute aerials.
“It’s bigger so I get to try different maneuvers; it’s hard for me to get speed in smaller waves, so I was stoked to have that wave and land that one,” said Brazil’s Felix, of his 9.0 ride which was punctuated by an air-reverse.”
Aside from the high-level of surfing on display, one of the highlight storylines of Day 1 was the presence of Yu Miao in Heat 6. Known as “Jack,” Miao was the first Chinese male to enter and compete in an ASP event.
“I came to this island two years ago and there was nobody, just me and a couple other friends, and at most 3 or 4 people in the water, and now I see so many people; it’s getting so popular, it’s exciting to be involved and see surfing start to grow in China,” he said, following his Round of 64 heat. “Now my secret spot is no longer secret.”
With 12 of the 16 heats run of the Round of 64, Day 2 will begin with the remaining heats, followed immediately by Round of 36 competition.
Competition resumes at 8:00am local time (2:00pm PST – 5:00pm EST). Watch it online on www.hainaninternationalsurfingfestival.com/hainan-classic/live.