PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad / El Salvador (Sunday, July 10, 2011) – Ezekiel Lau (HAW), 17, has claimed his first major ASP victory by defeating Mitch Crews (AUS), 21, to win the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star Copa Quiksilver El Salvador in a high-scoring final of 17.30 to 15.73 in firing four-to-six foot waves at the idyllic righthand pointbreak of Punta Roca in La Libertad, El Salvador.
Above: Final day highlights from the Copa Quiksilver El Salvador.
The Copa Quiksilver El Salvador is a new addition to the 2011 ASP North America schedule, offering vital points for surfers looking to build their seed on the ASP World Ranking.
Lau traded off an even exchange with Crews in the beginning of the heat, but locked into a flawless righthander and detonated a flurry of forehand turns, earning a 9.23, the day's highest single-wave score and eventually solidified the win with an additional amazing ride to the tune of 8.07.
"It just felt so good when I got here, the waves are good and I just stayed relaxed," Lau said. "It's a bounce back, I've had some ups and downs and I just wanted to get back on it and just relax and surf. I just had so much fun. Mitch surfed so well and I wanted to surf against him in the Final."
Crews was a standout throughout the Copa Quiksilver El Salvador and put in a valiant performance in the Final against Lau, but was unable to match the powerful Hawaiian's scores and finished with a impressive runner-up finish.
"I felt really good on that first little exchange and then when he got that 9, I thought, it's going to get serious now," Crews said. "I put my head down and tried to surf as best as I could and good on Ezekiel, he was ripping the whole event and he's a legend. I've had such a great time, this place is beautiful."
Shane Beschen (San Clemente, CA), 39, a former ASP Dream Tour standout, showed he hasn't lost his form against the next generation and marched to an impressive equal 3rd place finish with a timeless style and a combination of powerful rail-work and new-school maneuvers.
"When I heard about this contest, I was checking the footage and it looked fun so thought I'd do it," Beschen said. "This wave is insane, it's such a world-class wave, I think they should have a World Tour event here. I had a great time. Hopefully we can do it again next year."
Beschen's role as a surf coach combined with the inspiration from surfing with his family has rekindled a competitive spark for the veteran surfer.
"I've been coaching and watching lots of heats and I told myself that I could still do well," Beschen said. "My kids are surfing and ripping and it has motivated me to stay current and stay fit. I'm stoked, I had a good performance here and I feel good. At the right moment I feel I'm surfing as good as I ever have."
Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF), 25, was another standout at Punta Roca, but was unable to put a stop to Lau's rampage in their Semifinals bout and earned a solid equal 3rd finish.
"When it's priority it's not so much against the other guy," Fahrenfort said. "Zeke's been surfing great all week, but my plan was just to be in good rhythm with the waves and not hassle for them at the start. He got the first one and then I got a good one, but fell and he got another 6.0. I waited out the back for 8 minutes without priority and nothing came, and then I bogged one kind of and that was it."
Fahrenfort relied on powerful railwork groomed by his training grounds of Jeffreys Bay and now that the South African resides in California, Fahrenfort was elated to get some quality surf that was reminiscent of his surfing roots.
"I missed J-bay this year, which I've done for the last few years, so I just saw the perfect right point and decided to come down hoping for some good waves," Fahrenfort said. "We got our own little World Tour event here with two guys out, but it's warm water. I'm living in California now, and the tickets down here are cheap and the flight is so easy so I'm loving the waves in Latin America. I've been spending a lot of time in Mexico, and Central America, trying to get good waves, and we certainly got some here this week."
For Copa Quiksilver El Salvador highlights log on to www.quiksilver.com/elsalvador
Copa Quiksilver El Salvador Final Result:
1 – Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 17.30
2 – Mitch Crews (AUS) 15.73
Copa Quiksilver El Salvador Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 12.46 def. Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 10.57
SF 2: Mitch Crews (AUS) 16.50 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 10.03
Copa Quiksilver El Salvador Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 14.33 def. Guillermo Satt (CHL) 8.83
QF 2: Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 10.44 def. Jeremy Johnston (USA) 9.00
QF 3: Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.50 def. Caetano Vargas (BRA) 8.16
QF 4: Shane Beschen (USA) 14.27 def. Jason Shibata (HAW) 7.60