Sarakiniko Beach, Anse Cocos and the Maspalomas Dunes are among the famous names in the quarter-finals of the Kiwi.com World Championship of Beaches, but places such as Thailand’s Emerald Cave and Veligandu of the Maldives could spring a surprise
If you haven’t been following the World Championship of Beaches, you’re joining us as the action really starts to hot up! From 32 initial competitors we’re now down to the last eight, and it’s your votes on Instagram Stories @kiwicom247 that will decide who takes the trophy.
The contest got off to a thrilling start back on June 7 as Greece’s Navagio Beach — one of the favorites — was given a scare early doors by Seven Commandos Beach from the Philippines. The Greek side came into the match riding high after being voted the Best Beach in the World in 2018, but didn’t have it all their own way against the Filipinos. A tightly-fought contest eventually came down to experience as Navagio saw off the underdogs with its many fans giving it 64% of the votes.
There was nearly a moment of controversy in the same half of the draw, with VAR (Voting Assistant Referee) almost being called into action in the tie between Mullet Bay and Playa Matapalo, as the two sides ended up separated by the finest of margins. Eventually, Mullet Bay walked away victorious, scoring 50.4% of the vote versus Playa Matapalo’s 49.6%, an absolute nail-biter of a contest and a classic first-round tie which will live long in the memory.
In the other half of the draw, it was far more plain sailing for Puerto Rico’s Flamenco Beach as they trounced their rivals, Barbados’ Pebbles Beach, 77% — 23%. In a local derby that many pundits thought would be a lot more closely fought, the Barbadians left the contest rueing what might have been.
There was a similar story in the tie between Bermuda’s Horseshoe Beach and Noosa Main Beach of Australia, with Horseshoe Beach riding off into the sunset with 71% of the votes in what proved to be a strong start for many of the Caribbean sides.
The Round of 16 brought a convincing win for Anse Cocos against Portugal’s Benagil Sea Cave. Many experts thought the cave would prove a difficult place to go for the team from the Seychelles, but in the end they proved they could do it on a warm Friday evening in the Algarve, winning 65% — 35%. Anse Cocos will play Los Roques Archipelago of Venezuela, which is quickly becoming the neutrals’ favorite after its plucky run to this stage of the competition.
Brazil’s Praia da Azeda was another that made it through to the quarter-finals without breaking too much of a sweat, beating Englishman’s Bay from Trinidad and Tobago by 57% to 43%. The Brazilians looked confident, bringing a bit of samba swagger to the party, but they won’t have it all their own way in the next round.
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The match to decide who would have the honor of playing the Brazilians turned out to be the tie of the round, with Kenya’s Diani Beach in an absolutely titanic struggle against Matana Beach of Fiji. It looked like Matana would have it all its own way from the off, surging into an early lead, but as the voting progressed the Kenyans grew into the contest. By the end it was Matana Beach well and truly on the back foot, but eventually they held on to win by the tightest of margins, 51% — 49%.
So the line-up for the quarter-finals looks like this:
Veligandu Island Beach, Maldives vs. Emerald Cave, Thailand
Praia da Azeda, Brazil vs. Matana Beach, Kadavu, Fiji
Sarakiniko Beach, Greece vs. Maspalomas Dunes, Canary Islands, Spain
Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela vs. Anse Cocos, Seychelles
In anticipation of those ties, we spoke to Sandy McLeish, member of the 1978 WCOB Hall of Fame, who’s been with us throughout the tournament providing expert playa analysis.
“For me, so far, it’s been an absolute classic. We’ve seen some truly world-class beaches giving their all, proving time and time and time again why this is the competition they all want to win. We’ve seen some shocks, of course, Haad Rin Beach of Thailand going out to Kenya’s Diani Beach being one. On paper, the Thai beach looked strong; however the contest isn’t won on paper, it’s won on Instagram.”
And that’s where you’ll find the World Championship of Beaches, on Instagram Stories @kiwicom247. Get there and get involved so you can decide, once and for all, which beach will be crowned world champion.