Kalani and Ala Vierra, Kaua‘i residents, grabbed the top spot in the International Tandem Surfing Association rankings following a win in Florida, Monday.
The father-daughter team overcame strong currents and gnarly winds generated by Hurricane Gustav which passed through the Gulf of Mexico to surf the event.
According to an ITSA press release, Kalani’s leash plug was pulled out when a big wave clobbered the pair on the outside and he and Ala had to battle the currents and unrelenting waves to swim back in.
Despite these gnarly conditions, Kalani and Ala captured first place, and the lead of the World Tandem Tour standings.
Second place went to the team of Paully Chambers and Karin Rushworth following a long wave fight in the semifinals, that heat seeingRushworth collapse from the heat and exhaustion. With the runner-up position, that team now sits fifth in the WTT.
Kristen Huntington banged her knee into a bloody mess, but she and partner Clay Huntington finished third in the 12th WTT contest as well as third in the WTT standings.
Fourth place went to the French team of Eric Andre and Ophelie Fargetas who risked everything in the semifinals by having Fargetas swim out and Andre taking more than 10 minutes to get out to her.
Lifeguards were on the verge of heading out to rescue the pair.
But the gamble paid off as the French team hit one perfect lift and good surfing to advance to the finals. With the fourth finish, they now sit fourth in the WTT rankings.
The Vierra team have the WTT rankings lead with 5,516 points followed by another French team, Rico Leroy and Sarah Burel who missed their flight from France for the tournament.