Miguel Pupo Wins The 2011 Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro; Keanu Asing Takes The Oakley Pro Junior
You couldn't have scripted it any better today at the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro 6* PRIME event, unless of course you decided to have the hometown hero win the biggest event of his career in front of his family and friends at his local break. But unfortunately for San Clemente local and outstanding performer through the duration of this event, Tanner Gudauskas, his Lowers Pro campaign came up an unquantifiable, undecipherable, ridiculously close 0.06 points short in today's Men's Final to Brazilian talent Miguel Pupo.
Both surfers have been in form and on fire all week, Tanner entering the Final as the only undefeated surfer in the event and Miguel wearing the MVP yellow jersey from his performance yesterday. The Final started off a bit slow, as the surfers waited for opportunities to continue on their hot streaks and a chance to claim the $40,000 1st place prize money and $30,000 14-carat solid gold railroad spike trophy. Tanner led for the first half of the heat by virtue of sticking a mental inverted air reverse on one of his lefts. But Pupo found his rhythm mid way though and began to settle into the form he had displayed all week, with smooth rail carves and technical air reverses, posting an 8.33 to take over the lead. Then a fierce rally went down near the end of the heat with both surfers bettering their scores to make it even tighter, leaving Tanner requiring a 6.14 to take the lead. With under a minute left in the Final he lined up three solid turns on his forehand as the beach cheered and clapped in approval of his efforts, but the score had yet to drop. As time ticked away the score came in at a 6.07, causing the Brazilian contingent in the competitors area to erupt in a flurry of screams and flag waving, leaving Miguel Pupo as the first Brazilian surfer ever to win an event at Lower Trestles.
Pupo had been wowing the crowd all week with his fluid carves and progressive airs, even completing three aerials in a row on one wave today. Miguel described his emotions and his preparation for the event after the Final. "I'm just so happy to win this event and I'm sorry I took down the town's local guy," Pupo said after the victory. "I can't believe I won, I'm just so happy. I was working on my boards with my father before the event, and I brought him here and it's the first time he's gone to a contest with me, and things just went my way. It's my dream to make the World Tour and these points will help."
Gudauskas was obviously disappointed, being so close to such an important win, yet remained as positive as he had been throughout the event. "Miguel ripped and it makes it exciting when it's a close Final," stated Tanner. "Congratulations to him, it's been a fun week. I just didn't really think about it all week, I just kept my headphones on and went surfing, staying frothed and not thinking about points or scores. I am just coming off of an ankle injury and wasn’t expecting anything, and I just started making heats and then I was in the final."
In the Oakley Pro Jr. 17-year old Hawaiian Keanu Asing took a tight victory over a highly talented field. The scores for the Final were decided within 0.33 points for the top 3 finishers, with solid surfing coming from all the competitors. Asing finished on top of 2nd place finisher and World Junior Champion Jack Freestone, the best performer of the entire event and current ASP North America Pro Junior Series leader Kolohe Andino, and 4th place finisher and 2009 ASP North America Pro Junior Series Champion Nat Young. Asing's powerful backside approach earned him the highest single wave score of the Final for blasting big snaps on a steep left, and when he found his backup score in the closing minutes it put him into the lead.
"I got that one set and got an 8," said Keanu. "I needed a 4 and was hoping I would get a wave, and as I was paddling I asked Nat (Young) which way he was going to go, and he said he wasn’t going. I’m just glad I got that little wave at a clutch time in the heat, Mother Nature and God gave that one to me." He continued, “I want to say thanks to all of my sponsors, to Oakley for putting on the event, and to my Coach Bert Ishimaru. I had no expectations; I just focused on my performance and knew the result would come. This is huge, to win this big event. It’s a 5-Star, it’s one of the biggest wins of my career for sure. I’m at a loss for words right now, I’m just so excited and so happy."
When asked about a controversial incident in his Semi-Final, Asing was happy to clarify what transpired. "I was paddling for a wave and Conner (Coffin) was paddling for it in front of me," began Keanu. "I ended up paddling right on top of him, and as the wave picked him up his leash must have gotten caught on my fin or something, that's why my board got pulled up and out from under me. I would never pull somebody's leash, and I hope that's not what people think happened." What wasn't tough to realize was that Keanu put it together when it mattered most, and was the top performer in the biggest Junior Final in North America, boosting his campaign to qualify for the World Junior Championships.
All said and done this event was another notch raising the level of today's progressive surfing platform, up to new heights that once seemed untouchable. If these kids continue on this trajectory they are going to need space suits to survive the heights they are approaching, but we will all enjoy the rewards even if the view requires staring into the sun.—Zach Keenan
Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro Final Results:
1 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.63
2 – Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 13.57
Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.03 def. Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.33
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.70 def. Thiago Camarao (BRA) 12.67
Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro Quarterfinals Results:
Heat 1: Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 16.37 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 11.76
Heat 2: Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.60 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.33
Heat 3: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 14.50 def. Junior Faria (BRA) 11.47
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.24 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.93
Oakley Pro Junior Final Results:
1 – Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.70
2 – Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.43
3 – Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.30
4 – Nat Young (USA) 11.53
Oakley Pro Junior Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.00, Jack Freestone (USA) 9.73, Dylan Goodale (HAW) 9.37
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 14.77, Keanu Asing (HAW) 11.47, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.73, Andrew Doheny (USA) 9.14