Sallas, Whitegon Win Converse Hawaiian Open

With superb displays of wave selection, long rides and a range of explosive maneuvers combined with stylish noseriding, relative newcomer Kai Sallas and veteran professional Julie Whitegon surfed to victory in the men’s and women’s divisions of the Converse Hawaiian Open today at Queens Surf reef in Waikiki.

Sallas, 24 years old, is a local at the renowned surf spot winning his first major professional tournament. Whitegon, 41, hails from Encinitas, California, and is a three-time former U.S. professional champion making a major comeback against compitors half her age. Among them were her fellow finalists Leah Dawson, 19, from Orlando, Florida, who was runner up, 17-year-old Geodee Clark of Honolulu who came in third, and another clearly rising star, Kawehi Whitford of Makaha, Hawaii, who is only 14-years-old.

Surf conditions duuring the two finals were as different the the winners’ backgrounds. Waves poured in throughout the the women’s 30-minute deciding showdown, but after the first five minutes of the men’s final, they encountered a lull in the wave action that lasted almost half the heat—a nerve-racking drought in which they waited for sets that did not arrive until the last ten minutes.

That situation seemed to throw three-time world champion Colin McPhillips completely off his usually highly consistent game . McPhillips caught only three waves in the final, and he finished last in the four-man heat in which local knowledge paid off not just for Sallas, but also for Ned Snow and Kekoa Uemura who came in second and third respectively. But the dark cloud of his position had a silver lining for McPhillips whose disappointing finish still moved him into the lead on the 2005 U.S. Championship ratings, his nearest rivals for the title having been eliminated earlier in the event.

The Converse Hawaiian Open was the second of three contests making up the 2005 U.S. Professional Longboard Surfing Championships. The event was being held in conjunction with Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Ho’olaule’a 2005—a week-long celebration marking the 115 th birthday of the late Hawaiian waterman and Olympic Champion who is universally revered as the “father of modern surfing” and who surfed at this very same location as far back as the early years of the 20th century.

In other divisions of the Converse Hawaiian Open, Fritz Belmoro of Honolulu won the men’s timed noseriding by clocking up 17.74 seconds on the front 20 inches of his board, while Kassia Meador of Malibu, California, won the women’s noseriding with a score of 14.88 seconds.

Surf conditions for the final day of the competition presented by Longboard Magazine were just about ideal for top-flight longboard surfing: 2-3 foot waves, offshore winds, clear skies and hot, sunny weather.

Results

Men’s Open
1. Kai Sallas, HI $2,000
2. Ned Snow, HI $1,000
3. Kekoa Uemura, HI $ 750
4. Colin McPhillips, CA $ 500

Women’s Open
1. Julie Whitegon, CA $2,000
2. Leah Dawson, FL $1,000
3. Geodee Clark, HI $ 750
4. Kawehi Whitford $ 500

Men’s Noseriding
1. Fritz Belmoro, HI $ 500
2. Duane DeSoto, HI $ 375
3. Noah Shimabukuro, HI $ 250
4. Keegan Edwards, HI $ 100

Women’s Noseriding
1. Kassia Meador, CA $ 500
2. Kelia Moniz, HI $ 375
3. Belen Kimble, CA $ 250
4. Megan Godinez, HI $ 100