June 15, 2008: – – Hawaii’s Kekoa Bacalso has won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) PRIME six star World Qualifying Series (WQS) SriLankan Airlines Pro in fantastic 2m surf at Pasta Point in the Maldives.
In an all Hawaiian final, Bacalso defeated Dustin Barca with all their Hawaiian fellow competitors cheering on both surfers in what has been an event dominated by the Hawaiian’s. Five Hawaiian’s came into the final day of 8 surfers for the quarter finals.
The only way Hawaiian’s were being beaten here was when they drew each other in the draw and eliminated one of their own! Barca opened the final with an excellent 8.17 point ride which included a clean tube ride followed by a series of excellent and precisely executed bottom to top turn combinations.
Bacalso threw himself into contention mid final with a solid 7 point ride while Barca remained patient, holding priority and looking to open a big break with his required second scoring ride. With 15 minutes remaining in the 35 minute final Barca took his second ride but the wave let him down slightly and he posted just an average 5.5 ride and the door for Bacalso to assert himself was wide open.
Bacalso required just a 6.68 to take the lead and when delivered with a solid set wave Bacalso showed his intentions by not simply going for a score to take the lead, he wanted a score to take a big lead, throwing caution to the wind he unleashed a series of critical and powerful backhand moves throughout the long perfect peeling 200 meter ride and was duly rewarded with an outstanding 9 point ride.
With five minutes remaining Bacalso again was presented with an excellent wave and he again unleashed a series of massive moves to post an 8.87 securing his first ever win in an ASP six star WQS event.
“So stoked to finally win at ASP Open level; after winning the ASP World Junior title a few years ago the pressures been on me to perform at open level but it’s been really hard, the competition is so tough and to finally break through is such a relief. The waves have been amazing here and the Hawaiian’s have ripped every day – It’s a huge party for us here tonight.”
Barca also posted his best ever result and after the final said “It’s been an amazing event for the Hawaiian’s, in the final we just surfed together out there and had a great time in perfect waves. I made a few mistakes mid heat but overall, wow, what a great event this has been.”
Both surfers dedicated their performance to the late Tony Hussein Hinde, the surfer who discovered Pasta Point and was an integral part of making this great event happen. Tony passed away just prior to this years event.
Finishing in third place today was Joel Centeio (HAW) and Leonardo Neves (BRA). Centeio went down in a very close semi final to Bacalso. Both surfers were level on scores with just five minutes remaining in the semi final when Bacalso secured his finals berth with another excellent scoring ride.
Neves was both pleased with his overall result but slightly disappointed not to win the event. All week Neves had been amongst the highest scoring surfers each day and held the highest scoring ride of a perfect 10 in his round of 16 heat but in today’s semi final, he fell on a few earlier critical rides and it wasn’t until mid heat that he found an excellent 8.17 to throw himself into contention.
Holding priority in the final 5 minutes and requiring a very achievable 7.9 to win, the ocean went quiet on Neves and Barca secured his first ASP six star final position.
“We all come here to win but 3rd is still a great result. I didn’t get the right waves early in that semi and my opponent really took advantage of me in that period. It’s been such an amazing event that we’re all really happy to be here and I will be back next year for sure.”
The 2008 SriLankan Airlines Pro has been the best ASP event ever run in the Maldives with perfect and powerful waves all week aand will go down as one of the all time great events in ASP surfing. All surfers have enjoyed their time here immensely either competing in the perfect surf or off riding a huge array of excellent waves on the nearby islands.
It’s been a week to remember and everyone here looks forward to returning to the magnificent Maldives in 2009.
Bacalso, Kekoa def. Barca, Dustin
Bacalso, Kekoa def. Centeio, Joel
Barca, Dustin def. Neves, Leonardo
Current WQS ratings after The Maldives Sri Lankan Airlines Pro
Gudauskas, Patrick USA 1
Ware, Austin USA 2
Bettero, Hizunome BRA 3
Garcia, Sunny HAW 4
Bacalso, Kekoa HAW 5
Weare, David ZAF 6
Simpson, Brett USA 7
Courtney, Drew AUS 8
Yeomans, Nathan USA 9
Hedge, Nathan AUS 10