Gillette beaten at buzzer during Azores opener

The women have completed their World Qualifying Series 6-Star schedule, but the men opened up their fourth of eight 2014 WQS Prime contests, Tuesday at the SATA Airlines Azores Pro. The Round of 96 featured some fierce battles and big names with a lot of the young guns showing well, hoping for a chance to jump into next year’s World Championship Tour.

The only Kauai competitor was Kilauea’s Gavin Gillette, who has had a very unlucky season to this point. Unfortunately for the North Shore regular footer, his fortunes did not turn in Portugal. In a stacked first heat, Gillette took on France’s Maxime Huscenot and Marc Lacomare, along with young American Evan Geiselman.

Huscenot was on point from the start of the heat, connecting on the best waves while the others were struggling to score. But Gillette earned a 5.67 with some sharp surfing on his forehand and moved into second place, backing up his early score with a 4.17 for a 9.84 total. He certainly wasn’t out of the woods, but Geiselman wasn’t finding the right waves and Lacomare appeared lost in the lineup.

Once Huscenot extended his lead with an 8.17 and then sealed his advancement with a 7.50, Gillette remained in a precarious second place as the final minutes ticked down. But Lacomare, a powerful surfer with some strong results, began to find his rhythm. He got back in the mix with a 4.37 and hopped on a left with a little more than 60 seconds remaining. Needing a 5.48, Lacomare made two very strong carves and gave a small fist pump as he began riding the white water into the beach. He seemed pretty certain he had gotten the score and he was right – barely.

With about 10 seconds left, the score came in for a 5.60 to knock Gillette into third place and put the two Frenchmen into the Round of 48. Despite being well known on the WQS as one of its most talented and energetic surfers, Gillette entered the contest ranked 82nd and having won just three heats this season. Hopefully he’ll pick up some good results during the Hawaii swing later this year.

Seven other Hawaii surfers entered the event. Five of them managed to advance to the second round – Mason Ho, Ezekiel Lau, Granger Larsen, Kiron Jabour and Keanu Asing. Torrey Meister and Dusty Payne were each knocked out in the same first-round heat.

Some of the other big names who couldn’t survive their opening heats included Tiago Pires, Ryan Callinan, Dion Atkinson, Peterson Crisanto, Miguel Pupo, Heitor Alves, Nathaniel Curran, Tim Reyes, Alejo Muniz, Adam Melling and Kanoa Igarashi. It’s a testament to the depth of this field and the difficulty of consistently finding good waves in Sao Miguel.

The heat of the day was surfed by Brazil’s Italo Ferreira, who entered the contest ranked 60th in the WQS, though he did take third at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. He received a 9.67 for the top single score of the first round and finished with a 17.44 two-wave total.

Wednesday’s call for round two in Portugal would have been at 9 p.m. Tuesday night Hawaiian time. Visit for event information and results.


David Simon can be reached at


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