Cementing his reputation as one of the kindest and most-respected surfers to come out of Hawaii, Michael Ho gave his waiting list spot to an up-and coming South African surfer Klee Strachan. "I normally come to watch my daughter (Coco) and my son (Mason) compete in the event but the waves were so fun his year that I thought I'd ask if I could get a spot as an alternate," said Ho. "I guess Klee's trying to qualify with everyone else and I'm almost 52 so I just figured yeah he could have my spot."
Klee Strachan (above) Earns Spot In WQS Mr. Price Pro Thanks To Michael Ho
Wednesday July 1, 2009 – Former South African Junior Champion Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit) was the lucky recipient of the Aloha spirit at the Mr. Price Pro Ballito today, when Hawaiian surfing heavyweight Michael Ho, 51, (Oahu) gave up his spot in the main event for the local surfer.
Strachan, who missed his first heat of the prestigious 6 Star ASP World Qualifying Series event on Monday, slotted into today's Round of 96 in place of Ho, where he did well in the difficult cross shore conditions, holding onto second position to advance into the Round of 48 behind heat winner Brett Simpson (USA).
Michael Ho…51-years old and still charging Backdoor! Photo: Noyle/SPL
"I'm very stoked that Michael Ho let me take the first alternate," said Strachan. "I've been sitting around here for the last two days just hoping I would surf. Thankfully the chance came and I surfed my best and made it through and it's all thanks to the Hawaiians, they're all good guys and I'm really appreciative to them."
Ho, who is currently traveling to South Africa with his daughter ASP World No. 6 Coco and son WQS campaigner Mason (both of whom competed in the event), was only to happy to give up his spot for the campaigning youngster. He was later rewarded with a place back into the event where he finished in fourth position.
"I normally come to watch my daughter and my son compete in the event but the waves were so fun his year that I thought I'd ask if I could get a spot as an alternate," said Ho. "I guess Klee's trying to qualify with everyone else and I'm almost 52 so I just figured yeah he could have my spot."
Ho's ties with the event go back as far as the 1970's where he competed against six times winner of the Gunston 500, Shaun Thomson. He will now go down in the history books as part of the second-ever family trio to all compete in the same event. The only other time this has happened was also at the Mr. Price Pro with Bluff surfing family Rudy Palmboom Snr, son Rudy Jnr. and daughter Heidi all competing together.
"I don't have any high expectations of doing real well or anything but I do feel like I'm going to go out there and catch a good wave," said Ho before his heat. "It was pretty darn gnarly the last few days here. At home there's a channel so when it's real big you can kick out. Here, there's no channel and the kids were just blowing my mind out there yesterday, so I see they know what they were doing."
Ballito cranked open the surf tap with clean two meter (6-8ft) barrels on offer for the third straight day of competition that saw the South African WQS contingent suffer a number of devastating casualties.
Event favorites and top WQS campaigners No. 6 Travis Logie (Durban) and No. 22 Brandon Jackson (Durban North) were both eliminated from the event during their consecutive afternoon heats.
A total of six out of 18 South African's advanced, lead by yesterday's stand-out and the only surfer to score a perfect 10-point ride in the event so far, Dale Staples (St Francis).
Staples took down top WQS campaigner No. 5 Blake Thornton (USA) posting an excellent 8.33 (out of 10.00) on his last wave of the heat to shoot into the Round of 48.
2006 Mr. Price Pro Champion Ricky Basnett (Bluff), captured his second straight heat win of the event so far, reveling in the powerful waves he has often compared to those of his home break of Anstey's Beach on the Bluff. The former Top 45 campaigner produced good, clean surfing to earn a pair of wholesome scores, advancing ahead of Glenn Hall (Aus), Kaisa Kawamura (Jpn) and Dane Gudauskas (USA).
South Coast surfers Gavin Roberts (Scottburgh) and Rudy Palmboom (Bluff) brought their flair to the North Coast, both surfers advancing in second place.
Palmboom held onto second place in a nail-biting exchange against Australian Matt Wilkinson (AUS) to secure his spot in the next round.
"That was pretty nerve-wracking," said Palmboom. "I was feeling really confident after that first wave but then I went on a couple of bad ones and Matt and I kept exchanging between first and second. I'm just lucky that the other guy didn't get that 3."
Warwick Wright (Dbn) was the only Durban surfer to join his fellow countrymen in the Round of 48, placing second behind former ASP World Tour campaigner Yuri Sodre.
The international surfers gave spectators something to cheer about with yesterday's standout Dylan Graves (PRI) earning the day's highest wave score, a 9.67 (out of 10.00) for an incredible barrel ride that earned him the heat win over Marco Polo (Brazil).
"It was just a magical wave," said Graves. "That thing bowled up on the inside and I managed to stick with it and come out. I was super stoked because the view was insane – whether I came out or not I was happy!"
ASP WQS No. 3 Adam Melling produced an amazing performance, combo-ing all of his opponents in the first few minutes of the heat thanks to a deep overhead tube for a 7.67 (out of 10.00) which he then followed up with three radical, fast and critical maneuvers to be awarded an excellent 8.67 (out of 10).
"It's always good to get a couple of scores early on in the heat, but it's definitely not over until it's over," said Melling. "Those other guys can get tens in conditions like this so I just sat and waited for something better to come through."
Brazil's William Cardoso secured the only other near perfect ride of the morning, the stocky surfer tucking into a clean hollow tube to earn a perfect 9.00 from the judging panel.
"It was pretty hard to judge from the outside and it looked like it might close out," said Cardoso. "I took off and did that first turn then I saw the wave start to barrel so I pulled in and just managed to come out and I was so happy. I looked over and saw all my friends shouting and waving so I knew it was going to be a good score!"
Twenty heats of the Men's Round of 96 were completed leaving just four heats and six remaining South Africans with the chance to earn their places into the Round of 48.
Still to surf in tomorrow's Round of 96 are former Top 45 surfer Royden Bryson (East London), Dave Richards (Cape Town), Damien Fahrenfort (Cape Town), Gary Van Weiringen (Scottburgh) and Casey Grant (Scottburgh).