Saturday, November 22, 2003 – (Haleiwa, HAWAII) — Australian dark-horse Troy Brooks (Bells Beach, Victoria) took a 4,000-strong crowd and international field of professional surfers by surprise when he emerged the champion of the $125,000 Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Beach today, effectively winning the 30-minute final in seven minutes. Earning $15,000, 24-year-old Brooks bounded from obscurity on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) rankings to now have a shot at entering the elite 2004 World Championship Tour (WCT), jumping 29 places from 51st to 22nd. This is the first professional victory of his career. The final qualification verdict for Brooks is dependant upon the performance of other surfers in the upcoming WCT events – the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach (Nov.24 – Dec.7) and the Xbox Pipeline Masters (Dec. 8-20).
Second place today was Brazilian Armando Daltro ($8,000), third was Australian Jake Paterson ($6,000), and fourth was Neco Padaratz (Brazil – $4,000), who is now the official 2003 ASP World Qualifying Series champion. Results from today’s event had no baring on the elite World Championship Tour rankings that Kelly Slater (Florida) still leads, trailed closely by Andy Irons (Haw). Both surfers were in today’s competition but lost in the semi-finals. Irons was eliminated by Daltro and Padaratz, and Slater lost to Brooks and Paterson.
Difficult conditions persisted again today, making this a challenging event from the outset. First battling a flat ocean for over a week, the event has been staged in uncharacteristic 3-5 foot choppy, challenging waves for the past four days. But it did nothing to dull the performance level and intensity of competition and high scores continued to fly throughout the final day’s action.
After chipping away at Slater through the rounds, Brooks was unstoppable by the final. Opening with a brilliant ride that scored 8.17 points out of 10, Brooke got straight onto a second ride at the seven minute mark that scored 8.27 points. He never caught another wave. His backhand attack of the long left-handers was vertical and powerful as he packed in high-risk turns from take-off to finish. His closest rival Daltro was still in need of of a near-perfect 9.44 point ride by the final horn. The final scores were based on each surfer’s best two rides: Brooke with 16.44 points, Daltro on 12.23, Paterson on 11.8, and Padaratz with 10.96.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Brooks, after being carried from shore on the shoulders of his Aussie mates. “I never could have imagined this was how it was going to finish. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never felt this before.
“There was no point catching anything less than an eight point ride after (the first two waves), so I just sat out the back and nothing else came through.
“I came into this event thinking that I didn’t have a chance, but that’s the best way, then you’re not stressed out. All of a sudden I was in the final and then I found out I still had a chance (of qualifying for the WCT) if I could win. I started out poorly on tour this year and then played catch-up. Now I just hope nothing changes on the ratings and I qualify.”
While Brooks is not eligible to compete in the two up-coming WCT events that round out the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, by virtue of the fact that he now leads the Triple Crown series ratings, he will be given a start in the trials of next week’s Rip Curl Cup. If he finishes in the top six places of the trials, he will win a wildcard into the main event against the WCT surfers.
For Brazilian Neco Padaratz, winning the WQS tour for 2003 was a rewarding outcome to another grueling year competing on both tours. With an average collection of results on the WCT, Padaratz needed the backup of a strong WQS finish to assure him of a place on next year’s WCT.
“It’s very important to me,” said Padaratz. “It has been a very tough contest and everyonee has been surfing well. It was close out there but thankfully I got the waves I needed to do well.”
The top Hawaii finishers in the Vans Hawaiian Pro were brothers Andy and Bruce Irons. Andy finished in equal 7th place after he incurred a paddling interference in the semi’s, and Bruce finished in equal ninth, losing in the quarters. Brooks is the first non-Hawaiian to win the Vans Hawaiian Pro since Tony Ray (Australia) won in 1997. Ray is also from Bells Beach, Victoria.
The next stop on the men’s Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach, Nov.24-Dec.7. The next stop for the women is at the North Shore’s only 5-star hotel, the Turtle Bay Resort, for the 4-star WQS Turtle Bay Resort Women’s Pro, held over the same dates as the Rip Curl Cup. The third and final stop is Pipeline, for the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters (Dec. 8-20) for the men, and Honolua Bay, Maui, for the women’s
VANS HAWAIIAN PRO MEN’S FINAL:
1st. Troy Brooks (Aus) 16.44
2nd. Armando Daltro (Brz) 12.23
3rd. Jake Paterson (Aus) 11.8
4th. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 10.96
H1: A. Daltro 12.0, N. Padaratz 12.0, Tim Curran (USA) 10.33, Andy Irons (Haw) 2.67
H2: J. Paterson 13.57, T. Brooks 11.5, Trent Munro (Aus) 11.13, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.0
H1: T. Curran 12.67, N. Padaratz 10.03, Joel Parkinson (Aus) 8.5, Mick Fanning (Aus) 8.4
H2: A. Irons 15.84, A. Daltro 13.3, Bruce Irons (Haw) 11.76, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.0
H3: K. Slater 16.63, T. Brooks 13.37, Victor Ribas (Brz) 12.5, Peterson Rosa (Brz) 7.9
H4: T. Munro 15.57, J. Paterson 14.5, Richard Lovett (Aus) 13.03, Tom Whitaker (Aus) 9.7