Darren Muschett and Liza Caban Win Corona Extra Pro at Domes

February 25, 2008: – – In an action packed afternoon  filled with drama, Darren Muschett and Liza Caban each won their first professional event at the Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit held at Playa Domes, in the classic surf-town of Rincon, Puerto Rico. Youth was served and some fresh blood has been introduced to the Corona Circuit.

Of the eight semi-finalists, five of them aren’t old enough to drive a car, and you can hardly call Darren Muschett an old-timer at 22 or women’s runner up Anastasia Ashley an old maid at 18.

The Circuit continues to expand as the Corona events are the most prestigious in the region, having a proven track record of well run contests in quality waves. This event attracted a record 78 surfers from dozens of countries to compete for their share of the $15,000 purse.

Coppertone Sport threw in an extra $500 for the highest heat total on both the men’s and women’s side, won by Eric Torres and Liza Caban. The small waves didn’t dampen the spirits of the spectators; the beach was packed and the Coronas were flowing.

They’ve been crowning champs here for forty years, and Rincon is affectionately known as the Capital of Surfing in Puerto Rico. The people love their surfing and they come out in droves to support it and their local surfers. Perhaps the biggest wave ridden today was the wave of enthusiastic support given to the champs who rode on to victory. And now to the action.

We started the day picking up mid way through Round #4 of the men’s with heat #5.  Travis Mellem continued his winning ways while an ailing Jeff Myers overcame flu like symptoms to advance to the money round. Both visitors utilized a strong backhand attack, going vertical to dispense of the two seeded surfers.

A two foot wave may not be all that impressive, but when William Sue-a Quan gets an opportunity to open up and pull off critical snaps-to-carve combos, you can’t help but to be impressed as were the judges who threw out an 8.17 for his effort. He easily won heat #6 despite a serious cut on his right arm.

In heat #7, Ramse Morales used his local knowledge to pick off a nugget of a wave, ripping it across the point for an 8.33 and won the heat with a 14.26 total, the fourth highest of the event. In the last heat of the round, Wesley Toth stepped it up big time and seemed to be in perfect sync the entire heat.

Round # 2 of the women’s was next, where the seeded surfers got into the mix, but the “new blood” theme seemed to dominate the round as only Amy Murphree survived the onslaught brought on by the upstarts.

Quincy Davis whacked and slashed, racking up the single highest wave score of the event with a 6.83 and subsequent heat win. Liza Caban’s combined score of 12.77 won her the heat as well as the $500 Coppertone cash for highest heat total of the event.  Anastasia Ashley, Jasset Ambel, and Jenny Quan established themselves as major threats going into the Quarterfinals.

Round #4 of the men’s really upped the ante and will have a tremendous impact on the season’s rankings.  In heat #1, Johnny Craft won the respect and admiration of the crowd with his smooth surfing but was overcome by supergrom, Hector Santamaria and an on-fire Gabriel Escudero. It was in heat #2 that Eric Torres seemed to grow up right in front of our eyes.

The 15 year old was surfing against his childhood heroes in the likes of Juan Ashton and Pablo Diaz and never blinked an eye, taking the win over his elders. In heat #3, Travis Mellem won his 5th consecutive heat using his patented top-to-bottom combinations.  The round concluded with Carlos Cabrero slashing his way to victory.

The women’s quarterfinal decided who would go on to the man-on-man format of the semis and final. Quincy Davis and Anastasia Ashley clearly stood out and it was obvious they were bound on a collision course in the next round. Heat #2 was more intriguing, going back and forth before Jset Ambel could nail down a 10.76 heat total for the win, with Liza Caban finishing a close second.

Quarterfinal #1 of the men’s was one of the most exciting of the event. Veteran Pablo Diaz and current #2 on the rankings Gabriel Escudero started strong, applying the pressure to the two younger competitors, Eric Torres and Hector Santamaria. Eric went to work building his scores along with his wave-count, eventually wrestling the lead away from Gabby.

A vicious exchange of waves inside the final minute had the crowd chewing on their fingernails. Pablo went ballistic on a little wedge, but Hector snagged the following wave which offer a wall ripe for the picking. Hector went to town, hitting the lip and busting out the tail out the back, then worked the wave to the inside to seal the deal, and everybody cheered.

The crowd barely had time to catch its breath when Carlos Cabrero wowed them with slashing, fin-busting cutbacks and tail sliding maneuvers. After all that, the ocean needed a break, and heat #2 suffered a bit from wave starvation. Darren Muschett knows every square inch of reef out there, and found the right ones to give him the heat win.  The women’s semi-finals matched Anastasia Ashley vs. Quincy Davis in heat #1, and Liza Caban vs. Jasset Ambet in heat #2. Their combined age doesn’t add up to 60. That averages out to be 15 if the math doesn’t come right to you. In heat #1, Anastasia Ashley started off with a 5.67 for the early lead and then used superior wave selection to reach her second final in a row. Quincy may have just been too excited and who wouldn’t be?

After she went for a wave that fizzled out, Anastasia secured priority to close out the 12 year old but not before she had won the crowd and gained a loyal fan-base. In the second heat, Jasset Ambet roller coastered with some fine rail work and surfed extremely fast. But maybe too fast, as she streaked by sections instead of taking advantage of the scoring opportunities.

Liza didn’t miss a chance. Even if it sectioned off in front of her, Liza would whack it with everything she had. That radical approach gained favor with the judges who reward critical, progressive surfing, and Liza was not to be denied another trip to the final at Domes. The men’s semi-finals matched up Hector Santamaria vs. Eric Torres in heat #1, and Carlos Cabrero vs. Darren Muschett in #2.

There really was no loser in heat #1 as the two friends surfed before a packed beach like it was a little free-surf, but without the crowds.  No nerves, no rookie mistakes, no indications that hundreds of dollars were at stake between the difference of winning and losing. Hector had several impressive rides, and exploded the lip on one spectacular bash in particular, but didn’t catch the better waves in the heat.

Eric picked off a beauty and just ripped it to shreds for the highest wave score of the event, an 8.87. He got a solid back up wave, working it to the inside with a series of cutbacks. That gave him a 14.8 heat total for the highest of the event and an extra $500 from Coppertone. The waves continued to improve throughout the afternoon offering more opportunity.

But by the second heat, the secret left Carlos had worked so effectively in the previous round just wasn’t working the same with a shift in tide. He put on a terrific show, milking whatever he could out of the waves he caught. But Darren sat out the back, patiently waiting for the right one. That’s where the local knowledge comes in.

He paddled into a walled up right and threw down a gouge Occy would be proud of. In the end, his familiarity with Domes paved the way to his first professional final.

The women’s final featured the #1 ranked surfer Anastasia Ashley against last year’s Domes finalist, Liza Caban. Since that time last year, Liza’s surfing has improved dramatically and her confidence level continues to rise. She came into the event super motivated, quietly claiming that she was going to win this time. That confidence carried right on through the final, with Liza riding a tremendous wave of crowd support.

Liza got an early lead with 5.17, then wisely secured priority when Anastasia took a closeout.  From there she dictated the heat, and when the countdown began the crowd went crazy. Family and friends met her in the water to give her the “Emperor’s Chair” victory ride up the beach in an emotionally charged moment.

The men’s final was the first professional final for both Darren Muschett and Eric Torres.  The lead bounced back and forth several times. First Eric ad a 4.73, then Darren topped that with a 5.93, then Eric came back with his own 5.93 only to be topped again when Darren picked up a 5.83 for a second wave.

But it all boiled down to a critical exchange at the three minute mark. Eric took the first wave of a good set, snapping and slashing all the way to the inside for a 6.4, only to kickout and see Darren carving the one behind to pieces. Darren’s wave lined up all the way through and he nailed down the second highest wave score of the event, an 8.4.

That effectively put an end to the Cinderella Story of the event, Eric Torres and gave Darren his first professional victory at his home beach. If you happened to miss any of the action, remember you can catch all the action with “Heat on Demand” on APSPR.net  

A huge thanks goes out to the tremendous crowd for continuing to support the premier professional circuit in Puerto Rico, the APSPR’s Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit. Keep posted to on APSPR.net for the latest in the season’s rankings and next event.

ated, quietly claiming that she was going to win this time. That confidence carried right on through the final, with Liza riding a tremendous wave of crowd support.

Liza got an early lead with 5.17, then wisely secured priority when Anastasia took a closeout.  From there she dictated the heat, and when the countdown began the crowd went crazy. Family and friends met her in the water to give her the “Emperor’s Chair” victory ride up the beach in an emotionally charged moment.

The men’s final was the first professional final for both Darren Muschett and Eric Torres.  The lead bounced back and forth several times. First Eric ad a 4.73, then Darren topped that with a 5.93, then Eric came back with his own 5.93 only to be topped again when Darren picked up a 5.83 for a second wave.

But it all boiled down to a critical exchange at the three minute mark. Eric took the first wave of a good set, snapping and slashing all the way to the inside for a 6.4, only to kickout and see Darren carving the one behind to pieces. Darren’s wave lined up all the way through and he nailed down the second highest wave score of the event, an 8.4.

That effectively put an end to the Cinderella Story of the event, Eric Torres and gave Darren his first professional victory at his home beach. If you happened to miss any of the action, remember you can catch all the action with “Heat on Demand” on APSPR.net  

A huge thanks goes out to the tremendous crowd for continuing to support the premier professional circuit in Puerto Rico, the APSPR’s Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit. Keep posted to on APSPR.net for the latest in the season’s rankings and next event.