Zane Schweitzer WINS the Sapinus Pro in Tahiti
Sapinus Pro 2015
Every trip to Tahiti is a trip of a lifetime! Every year I look forward to meeting with the Starboard team for the annual Pro Board photo shoot in Tahiti. We surf all day every day and get killer photos with Ben Thouard and the team. My brother Matty who is an expert big wave surfer got to come with me on this trip and it was his first time to Tahiti, so we were having a blast living the Tahitian lifestyle and Surfing all the best waves around here. We had 3 days of shooting and free surfing before the competition started and it was the best way to warm up for the event! This event in TAHITI is definitely the event on the Stand Up World Tour. I was looking forward to this one most this year and have been training hard and was feeling super strong coming into the start of this years Stand Up World Tour.
Being born and raised on a Polynesian Island I always feel right at home when I travel to Tahiti.
They embrace the same Island culture we do in Hawaii. I have a strong connection to the island and the waves are incredible. The people of Tahiti are as friendly as you can imagine. The weather is similar, the waves warm and everyone celebrates the ocean.
Some of my most memorable accomplishments in my career are connected to Tahiti too. When I first started on the Stand Up World Tour, I won the People’s Choice Award, which included two free tickets to Tahiti so I could compete in the first Stand Up World Tour in Sapinus. I met all these wonderful people that really had an impact in my surfing while I was there, and made friends for life. A few years later TWO of my magazine covers were from Tahiti, and a Starboard poster from Tahiti. After I won the Stand Up World Tour in the Big Island in 2011 my Tahitian friend Patu gave me a tattoo to commemorate my victory and designed the most spiritual tattoo that represent my family, my island culture and my victory. But now, my proudest accomplishment in my career is that I won the Stand Up World Tour in Tahiti and in solid waves!!!
The days days leading into the event were HUGE! Right off the plane from St. Croix’s Coconut Cup and we were already sitting in the line up at Teahupoo getting dry barrels before 9am. This is exactly the conditions I was hoping for because the bigger it gets the more confident I feel. After scoring for a few days we went for one last session at Sapinus to prepare for the event that started the very next morning. After a great evening session, we were just about to get ready to catch our last few waves, when my brother Matty takes off on the first wave of a set and I catch the next. After I get a dry barrel and spit out I hear the entire channel screaming at me which I assumed was because of my wave. When I looked in I realized my brother Matty was face down on his board looking like he was in Pain. He took a hit to the head in a barrell and hit the reef hard. He experienced temporary paralysis and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Every trip has its ups and downs. This trip I got to experience both! But seeing Matty like this, had one of the biggest scares of my life.
After that moment my entire reality went from competition mode, to Life saving mode. His left side of his body was unresponsive and he was obviously in pain. We quickly supported my brothers neck, got him on the boat and headed straight to the shore where we had an ambulance waiting. By the time we got in, my brother had full feeling and movement back but we still decided to get it checked out at the hospital. After a long, scary night in the E.R. we were relieved to hear that there were not any broken bones in his neck and that it was a torn muscle or ligament in his neck & Shoulder. Once we got my brother well rested and home, it was back to Game mode!
We got lucky and scored killer swell during the entire Stand Up World Tour Sapinus event from start to finish. I felt really good in the lineup and was comfortable in the conditions at Sapinus and had so much fun surfing through each heat. It was rad to see all the talent at this event with the world’s best all pushing the limits of the sport in some killer waves!! My 7’1” x 24” Starboard InZane Pro Model worked flawlessly well in the sizable meaty waves and I was very impressed with how everything was working in such large surf.
As surfers we all know some days the ocean embraces you, and sometime it beats you up! Some times you find the waves and sometimes you don’t. But at Sapinus for this event, It just seemed that the ocean and I were in tune with each other. Hard work, training, and surfing my entire life helps, but nature plays a part too. The ocean was good to me in Tahiti, and I feel very blessed!
I won every heat I was in from start to finish of the event and was beyond stoked and blessed to win The Sapinus Pro 2015. I was in the final with Caio Vaz from Brazil and it was an exciting heat! In the beginning of the final heat Caio had great scores up on the board and I had a slow start, but after about 10 mins of patiently waiting I ended up scoring the waves I was looking for. First a 5.5 then a 5.8. With 4 minutes left I needed a 6.6 or something to take the lead, but I knew that there was going to be another wave before the end of the heat. While waiting outside and deep in priority a pod of Dolphins swam through the lineup and sure enough a beautiful set started to show on the horizon. Once I got on it I went straight into a bottom turn and crack off the top coming out of it speeding down the line. There was a lot waves that weren’t perfect but for sure there were a few unreal ones and this wave was the gem I needed. After my turn off the top I saw the west bowl lining up and I set up for a barrel that turned out to be a beautiful traveler and I came out of it clean with one more nice carve before the wave faded into the channel.
As I kicked out I already knew that score would be more than what I needed to take the lead but there was still 3 and half minutes remaining so I got straight back out into the lineup paddling out quick as the clock was ticking and I heard my last wave get scored a 9.3!! I was pumped to get an excellent score like that and now just needed to be on defense mode for the remaining minutes as Caio now had priority. The Lord was on my side and the ocean was calm until the last 30 seconds when we saw sets coming in! Since Caio had the priority he was setting up for the first set and just a few seconds before swinging into it, the buzzer blew! Throughout the entire event I was visualizing finishing off the contest with a good barrel and got it!! I was so stoked!! It felt so good to have won this final and to have my friends and all the athletes on the boat and in the water to congratulate me! Right after that buzzer blew, I ended up catching that set that was on the horizon and got one more nice barrel just to top it all off!…. Big Mahalo to uncle Guillaume and aunty Jenny for hosting us with the family here in Sapinus and sharing so much Aloha and good energy with us! Mahalo everyone for all the Aloha and good mana, Thanks for supporting me! Beau and Noa thanks for the clips when Matty was injured!
I also really want to thank my brother Matty. He has been traveling with me a lot, as my coach, my personal filmer, and many times my boss! haha. It has been great to be able to experience the world with my older brother, who is also my best friend! He keeps me grounded and focused. Reminding me that I love surfing, not to get into my head too much in heats, to just feel the ocean and have fun. And that’s what I did.
Also, I want to thank Tristan and the World Tour crew. The tour has had their share of growing pains but the Stand Up World Tour and World Race Series is what has given all of us athletes this incredible opportunity to do this as a career. I feel so grateful that I get to share this adventure with my brother Matty and my world wide friends on the tour with us. Thanks to Tristan and the World tour we have been to places like Abu Dhabi where I was able to secure the World Tour title there in the largest wave pool in the world, Brazil, Tahiti, Morocco, and Europe. The Race Series has taken us even further to Chile, Australia, Japan, you name it…It has been amazing and it just keeps getting better.
Of course my sponsors are amazing. Thanks for all the support Starboard, Vitargo, Honolua Surf Co, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Cobian, FCS fins, Dakine, HiTech Sports, Outdoor Tech! I’m living the dream because of your support.
And, the World Tour athletes I travel around the world with are all the most incredible group of guys, (and girls). They are all super all around athletes who push the limits of our sports daily. We have champion windsurfers like Kai and I, kiteboarder champions like Keahi, longboarder champions like Robin, and shortboarder champs now like DK on our tour. We have brothers like myself and Matty, the Vaz brothers, and a group of Hawaiians that I was literally born and raised with, now living our dream traveling the world and surfing epic spots while promoting standup in a big way. There’s the crazy Ozzies, the fearless Tahitians, friends from Japan, South Africa, all over Europe…We all speak different languages, but the love of the ocean brings us all together. It’s an amazing life!
Follow our adventures by following me on my athlete page: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZaneKekoaSchweitzer?ref=hl or Instagram @zaniac1 . And watch out for our videos highlighting everyone on Tour!
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