ICHINOMIYA, Chiba/Japan (Saturday, May 4, 2019) – Nat Young (USA) and Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) emerged victorious at the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open QS 6,000 and 1,000, respectively. The atmosphere was electric on finals day with hometown support out in force to cheer on the Japanese contingent in the two-to-three foot, onshore wind conditions.
For Young, the former Championship Tour (CT) competitor, it marks back-to-back wins in QS events after winning in Portugal just two weeks prior. The Santa Cruz, California, native couldn’t be denied a second win in 2019 with impeccable performances that led the American-heavy presence throughout finals day and overcame former event winner Evan Geiselman (USA) in a gritty Final.
“I’m so happy right now, it’s been the craziest week,” Young said. “Just staying with Evan and surfing against in the Final, Cam (Richards), Ian (Crane), and Michael Dunphy were all at the house so it was just amazing. To share a Final like that with a good friend is really cool. It’s obviously a goal of mine to get back to the CT and these are the steps to take.”
Young’s form was undeniable after showing his patience and veteran knowledge against upcoming threat Barron Mamiya (HAW) in his Quarterfinal dual. The 27-year-old then showed his ability to overcome adversity in a battle with Reo Inaba (JPN) and the local crowd that was backing their local surfer during Young’s comeback run. Young will now head into the major event break inside the Top 10, moving ten spots to No. 2, with some help from renowned coach Jake ‘Snake’ Patterson.
“I started working with Snake this year and slowly getting on a roll here,” Young said. “Surfing’s a sport but it’s also a game. Even if you’re the best surfer in the world you still have to make the right decisions. I feel like I’m surfing some smart heats so thanks to Jake for helping me get back on track.”
The women’s QS ranks has a maiden victor in the form of Tsuzuki with her phenomenal forehand that overpowered Maiko Miyasaka (JPN) in their Final heat. The 18-year-old had no easy feat to make her way into the Final after overcoming Mahina Maeda (JPN) in a wave-for-wave battle with her fellow Japanese representative. The up-and-comer has now made her way on the radar as a potential future threat and was able to conquer this event with all the support around her.
“I’m so happy right now and having all of my family here supporting me helped a lot since my brother is competing in Krui and is usually there for me,” Tsuzuki said. “When I first paddled out I wasn’t sure where to sit since I haven’t seen conditions like this yet here. I just started catching a bunch of waves and somewhere in there I was able to find two scores. When Maiko got that 7-point score it put some pressure on me but I’m really happy to come through with a win.”
Geiselman’s knowledge of the Ichinomiya beach breaks prevailed to earn him a second Final appearance at this event after a difficult road there. The 25-year-old had to deal with former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Connor O’Leary (AUS) to start his day before moving into a Semifinal showdown against Jake Marshall (USA) — who eliminated hometown hero Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) in the Quarterfinals. It was a rematch of the 2018 Florida Pro Final and Geiselman extends his finals day head-to-head match up tally over Marshall 2-0.
“That Final with Nat was great, we had a good crew here and I think it’s what we need more of at these events — who knows maybe it could be a good year for the Americans,” Geiselman said. “It’s funny I won three years ago and then lost first round the past two years in a row and now I’m back in a Final. Thje waves are similar to home and staying with amazing people helps make me feel comfortable. That’s a key thing throughout the year. You’re just trying to stay comfortable. I put a lot of pressure on myself coming here after a slow start and not looking good for the reseed even but now I’m locked in and can get my year going.”
At just 15, Miyasaka powered her way through the heaviest match ups and delivered incredible upsets over current No. 7 Sara Wakita in the Quarterfinals before today’s challenge of defending event winner Shino Matsuda (JPN). This is only Miyasaka’s second OS event and shows promise at a young age.
“It was hard to find a good wave and I just couldn’t find a score,” Miyasaka said. “I thought I could get the score backhand so I was waiting for a wave. I’m really happy to make it to the Final and now my new goal is first. I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting all the way through.”
Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Men’s QS 6,000 Final Results:
1 – Nat Young (USA) 14.17 1,000 points
2 – Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.44 750 points
Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Men’s QS 6,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Nat Young (USA) 12.60 DEF. Reo Inaba (JPN) 12.44
SF 2: Evan Geiselman (USA) 12.67 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 7.97
Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Men’s QS 6,000 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Reo Inaba (JPN) 14.74 DEF. Cam Richards (USA) 14.33
QF 2: Nat Young (USA) 14.40 DEF. Barron Mamiya (JPN) 6.10
QF 3: Evan Geiselman (USA) 13.77 DEF. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.23
QF 4: Jake Marshal (USA) 13.83 DEF. Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 10.83
Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Women’s QS 6,000 Final Results:
1 – Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 13.94 1,000 points
2 – Maiko Miyasaka (JPN) 12.46 750 points
Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open Women’s QS 6,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 9.53 DEF. Mahina Maeda (JPN) 9.27
SF 2: Maiko Miyasaka (JPN) 12.00 DEF. Shino Matsuda (JPN) 10.76