Jason Shibata just won the Sponsor Me Hawaii Ala Moana Bowls 2-Star QS– his first ASP victory at home– and he can't stop thanking everyone.
On stage while accepting the $5,000 first place prize, the 29-year-old never raises his arms to claim the victory like a braggart. Instead, Shibata thanks his wife, family, friends, sponsors, and the contest organizers. All the while flashing his trademark ear-to-ear smile. The same grin he wore since getting spit out a long Ala Moana tube and scoring an 8.9 in the final.
"Fortunately I got good waves and that was enough for today," said Shibata who won the Sponsor Me Ala Moana Bowls in firing, 4-foot waves. He won the event with a two-wave total of 16.75 out of a possible 20 points.
"To surf Bowls five times and for every heat to get longer and longer was a dream come true and I'm so thankful how everything turned out," he said.
In the post-contest interview, Jason "The Bats" Shibata, continued to show appreciation while answering reporter's questions.
"Thank you so much, Aunty Faith," says Shibata to ASP Hawaii Director Faith Wenzel between questions as she walks by smiling.
"Thanks, Freddy P."
WCT surfer and one of Jason's best friends Fred Patacchia trots by with his girlfriend and two dogs in-tow during the interview. Then fourth place finisher Casey Brown comes by to give Shibata a congratulatory hug and kind words.
"I appreciate it," replies Shibata. "I was stoked to surf with, Casey."
Shibata's humbleness and appreciation toward everyone isn't an act. It's a representation of the endearing Aloha Spirit that we've all come to know and love about Jason Shibata in his 13 years as a professional surfer. While he's won abroad before there aren't many things sweeter to a Hawaiian surfer than winning in the islands.
"It's a blessing to win at home," admitted Shibata. "I was really honored to surf with those guys and I'm happy to come out on top."
That wasn't a fake a quote out of Jason's mouth. You could tell that the diminutive, regular-foot was genuinely stoked to share a final heat with Kai Barger, Pancho Sullivan and Casey Brown. And, you know what? His fellow finalists were psyching that Shibata won.
"It was sick because [Shibata and I] both made the semis and I think we had a heat before that so we were on the same side of the draw," said Kai Barger who finished a close second place at the Sponsor Me Hawaii Ala Moana Bowls 2-Star QS. "So we were both fighting through it together and he just had a smile the whole time so I'm stoked to see him win. I'm not even bummed."
The display of camaraderie and joy for Shibata's first ASP Hawaiian victory was reminiscent of Joel Centeio's 2009 Reef Hawaiian Pro win– all hugs, handshakes and smiles after the event. No snapping at the judges. No temper tantrums. No pouty faces on the podium.
Just when it seemed like Shibata would finally take credit for shredding Ala Moana Bowls to pieces in the interview he stayed to true to his nature and thanked an underground, Hawaiian surfing coach.
"I'd to really stress thanking Kimo Middlesworth because– not just for myself but also for Joel Centeio, Sean Moody, Kekoa Bacalso, Kekoa Cazimero all the way back to Kalani Robb, Shmoo and Sunny– he always took the time to put the surfers first and able to showcase surfing like this," said Shibata at the end of the post-event interview. "This one was for Kimo!"— Daniel Ikaika Ito
1st. Jason Shibata
2nd. Kai Barger
3rd. Pancho Sullivan
4th. Casey Brown
H1: Casey Brown; Pancho Sullivan; Kalani Robb; Solomon Ortiz
H2: Kai Barger; Jason Shibata; Dustin Cuizon; Makuakai Rothman
H1: Kalani Robb; Casey Brown; Alex Smith; Myles Padaca
H2: Pancho Sullivan; Solomon Ortiz; Tyler Newton; Liam McNamara
H3: Makuakai Rothman; Dustin Cuizon; Jonah Morgan; Gregg Nakamura
H4: Kai Barger; Jason Shibata; Joel Centeio; Flynn Novak
Round of 32:
H1: Kalani Robb; Solomon Ortiz; Sean Moody; Keli Everett
H2: Casey Brown; Tyler Newton; Zachary Arreola; Kevin Sullivan
H3: Liam McNamara; Myles Padaca; Billy Kemper; Roy Powers
H4: Pancho Sullivan; Alex Smith; Evan Valiere; Edrick Baldwin (USA)
H5: Gregg Nakamura; Jason Shibata; Hank Gaskell; Kevin Kapsky
H6: Makuakai Rothman; Kai Barger; Charlie Carroll; Danny Fuller
H7: Joel Centeio; Jonah Morgan; Ola Eleogram; Derek Ho
H8: Flynn Novak; Dustin Cuizon; Randall Paulson; Jesse Merle-Jones
ROUND OF 64:
H1: Kalani Robb; Kevin Sullivan; Barak Maor; Keetin Devin (USA)
H2: Solomon Ortiz; Zachary Arreola; Larry Rios; Ezra Sitt
H3: Tyler Newton (USA); Sean Moody; Austin Vicente; Makai McNamara
H4: Casey Brown; Keli Everett; Makani Ciotti; Drew Pringle
H5: Myles Padaca; Evan Valiere; Daniel Jones; Jason Tangalin
H6: Billy Kemper; Pancho Sullivan; Kawai Lindo; Theo Niarchos
H7: Alex Smith; Liam McNamara; Love Hodel; Keoki Young
H8: Edrick Baldwin (USA); Roy Powers; Davin Torres-Jaime; Kaipo Jaquias
H9: Gregg Nakamura; Kai Barger; Granger Larsen; Sunny Garcia
H10: Jason Shibata; Charlie Carroll; Lance Groover; Kawehi Ponce
H11: Makuakai Rothman; Kevin Kapsky; Matt Meola; Landon McNamara
H12: Danny Fuller; Hank Gaskell; Ian Bowman; Jason Magallanes
H13: Ola Eleogram; Jesse Merle-Jones; Jamie O’Brien; Kekoa Cazimero
H14: Derek Ho; Flynn Novak; Ha’a Aikau; Dege O’Connell
H15: Randall Paulson; Jonah Morgan; Jeremy Doudt; Albee Layer
H16: Dustin Cuizon; Joel Centeio; Sean Bacon; Keoni Nozaki