Billabong Pro Panama (March 22-24 2002)
Fosters Pro Surfing Tour
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2002 World Qualifying Series (WQS)
FIRST WQS WIN FOR HOISINGTON IN BILLABONG PRO PANAMA
Santa Catalina, Panama (Sunday, March 24, 2002). The second event on the Billabong Central American Series has been won by Mike Hoisington in the perfect right hand reef break waves of Santa Catalina, the premier surf spot in Panama.
Hoisington (26), formerly of Myrtle Beach South Carolina and now resident in Huntington Beach California, returned to compete in the two events again this season, and like Magnum Martinez, the Billabong Pro winner of the previous week, had hoped to better the second place he gained last year in the Costa Rican event.
Faced with extreme tides that exposed the torturous volcanic reef on lower water, contestants endured grueling walks over the sharp black rocks, and a lengthy paddle to and from the break. With a twenty minute paddle out and twenty five minute heat lengths under an unforgiving tropical sun and consistent offshore winds, fitness played a major role on the last day, when all finalists surfed three times for a total of one hour and forty five minutes.
Julia Christian (19) of Carlsbad California was the sole woman entrant, advancing through two rounds before losing to Hoisington and second placed Andre Gioranelli of Brazil. For the second week running, pre-event favorite and three time world champion Tom Curren advanced to the semifinals, only to be beaten again by the 2000 Billabong Junior World Champion Pedro Henrique of Brazil, who ended the event a disappointing fourth place.
Surf ranged from four to eight feet for the duration of the contest, with the smallest surf prevailing for the finals. A series of connecting bowls let the finalists exhibit the full spectrum of moves, with enough water over the reef to allow forgiving wipeouts and no damage to the contests ants surfboards.
Ultimately it was wave choice that determined the winner. Hoisington faced a formidable challenge from a ‘never give up Gioranelli’ and a motivated Henrique, but he surfed a great final to rack up enough points for his first WQS victory. Kyle Garson from the East Coast surfed consistently well from the first round to end his run with a well deserved third place.
Many spectators made the five hour drive from Panama City for the weekend of festivities, and the success of the event ensured it’s place on the ASP WQS circuit in 2003.
Results of the Billabong Pro Costa Rica Men’s 2 Star
1st Mike Hoisington USA $4,000
2nd Andre Gioranelli BRZ $2,000
3rd Kyle Garson USA $1,500
4th Pedro Henrique BRZ $1,300
5th Jesse Merle-Jones HAW $1,000
5th Fabiano Passos BRZ $1,000
7th Tom Curren USA $800
7th Phillip Watters USA $800