Billabong World Pro Junior

9 Jan 2006 0 Share

Stocky Hawaiian powerhouse Kekoa Bacalso has claimed ASP world titleholder status by winning the Billabong World Junior Championships held at North Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, Australia, after defeating Tahitian Michel Bourez in the all-Polynesian final.

After getting off to a slow start in the one metre (three foot) wind-blown conditions, Bacalso came home strong, locking into a walling left-breaking wave on his backhand with seven minutes to go.

With his low centre of gravity, Bacalso looked strong on the wave executing lightning fast bottom turns and razor sharp top turns to score a 7.33 out of 10.

From there his opponent was “comboed” or put in a position where two good scoring rides are needed to win. Bacalso’s tactics of sitting wide of the break and being patient paid off.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m just so stoked,” said an elated Bacalso. “All that work was worth it. I followed the same tactics as my previous heats and sat in the same spots and was patient. Toward the end there, all I needed was one more and I grabbed a nice left. I spent a lot of time concentrating on the conditions and stayed off the party program to focus on my surfing in the event and it paid off.”

It was a tiring affair for the finalists as they both had to compete three times today before making the final. And with the conditions tricky, with a current running through the middle of the break, it was almost like a biathlon-type endurance event.

“I was really stressed in my semi so when I made the final I was much more relaxed,” said Bacalso. “But I was so tired out there and I was trying to run down the beach to the rip to paddle back out and my legs were cramping.”

The writing was on the wall early for a Bacalso win after he notched up the top total heat score of the event in round three – a 17.84 out of 20. Pushing him along was a strong Hawaiian contingent who up to round four had five out of 16 surfers remaining in the event.

“There’s so much good talent in Hawaii at the moment and there are a lot of up and coming kids. I’m stoked to represent them as they push me a lot,” said Bacalso. “This is such a prestigious event. I’ve been a slump for what seems like forever so this is such a great way to break out of it.”

With the win he now follows in the footsteps of another great Hawaiian in three-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Andy Irons, who claimed this event at the beginning of his pro career back in 1998.

Fellow finalist Bourez turned many heads with his fast and flashy style and many believe he has a huge future in the top ranks.

The Tahitian was also struggling with fatigue after the tiresome day but was very happy with his result.

“I was too tired in the final. I could barely even paddle,” said Bourez. “My tactics were wrong and I should have just waited to get the good ones rather than go flat out. Still I’m very excited to get a second against so many great surfers. It’s great for Tahiti and it’s great for my seeding on the World Qualifying Series next year and I will be able to do much better.”

Finishing in equal third place were Hawaiian Hank Gaskell and Brazilian Jean da Silva who both showed plenty of form throughout the event.

Gaskell lost his semi against Bacalso in the dying seconds when Bacalso stole a last minute ride, which scored him a 7.0. Up till that point the lead was continually swapping and changing as the two went blow for blow.

Interestingly both adopted different strategies with Gaskell electing to sit on the right breaking waves while Bacalso sat further down the beach. Gaskell, who felt he was struggling in the semi, was over the moon with his third placing and will take a lot of confidence into next year’s event (he is still young enough for one more year) and into the ASP’s second tier World Qualifying Series.

“I was having a bit of trouble out there,” said Gaskell. “I was falling a lot and I knew I had to do a lot to beat Kekoa. If the ocean had have

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