ZARAUTZ – Euskadi / Basque Country (Saturday, September 5, 2009) – Gonzalo Zubizarreta (ESP), 24, claimed the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star San Miguel Pro Zarautz pres. by Euskaltel today after besting runner-up Blake Thornton (AUS), 24, in three foot (one meter) waves. Zubizarreta, who pocketed valuable 2000 ratings' points, finishes atop the 144-man field after four days of intense competition that saw local hero Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK) post the event's best scores. The Spanish performer is guaranteed to jump into the coveted ASP WQS Top 20 and getting closer to the 10000 point mark.
Zubizarreta, who went through several tough heats throughout the four-day event besting Dion Atkinson (AUS), Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Glenn Hall (IRL) en route to the final, had to surf four times today to claim the crown, his career best win that will significantly count for his ASP World Tour qualification campaign. Having scored the day's best scores throughout his final run today, Zubizarreta was in unstoppable form in front of a cheering crowd that put all its passion to support the last European surfer in the event and push the 24-year-old man towards his best result ever.
"It's a dream coming true right now, I can't believe I have won that event," Zubizarreta said. "Since I left the junior series I have been looking to make a final in a major event and I have finally won my first one ever so I couldn't hope for anything better. I was feeling good this week and almost at home with the huge support and I was pretty relaxed in the final, just letting my surfing flow and it went right. I am just stoked."
Zubizarreta, whose result today confirms the supremacy of Europeans in the San Miguel Pro Zarautz for the third consecutive year, was held by best friends and famous competitors Aritz Aranburu (EUK) and Hodei Collazo (EUK) up to the award presentation in front of a thousand people.
"Aritz (Aranburu) won it in 2007, Tim (Boal) in 2008, and now it's my turn… I am stoked to see our generation do well and I hope Hodei (Collazo) is next on the list," Zubizarreta said. "I've had a good year but that week was really good and my coach Sylvain has been supporting a lot so I am just over the moon. I don't want to think of any ratings at this stage of the year but I know it will make a good difference and I hope things can keep going next week as I will be at home for the event."
Runner-up for another excellent result this year after a couple of 5th in ASP WQS 6-Star Prime events and a win in the ASP WQS 4-Star event at Cape Town in South Africa, Blake Thornton (AUS), 24, came close to clinching a second title this year but was not able to catch-up with Zubizarreta's performance. Thornton, who had to oust Nathan Yeomans (USA), Leigh Sedley (AUS) and Lincoln Taylor (AUS) on his way to the final today, did not deliver his best surfing in the final encounter leaving the best waves to Zubizarreta.
"I didn't surf very well in the final and the conditions did not help me at all," Thornton said. "It went pretty fat and I was looking for pockets and walling sections but I couldn't find any and Gony (Zubizarreta) deserves the win. I am happy to get another big finish and pretty happy for Gony as well, with all the great support from the town."
Thornton, who will go above the 10000 point mark on the ratings after his runner-up finish today, nets confidence for his ASP Top 45 campaign, an important asset for the upcoming months where things will get very tight.
"It's been a good year and that final is another step towards the ultimate goal," Thornton said. "I've had hard times trying to get rid of a couple of 800 point results and this final today is a comeback for me so I know that one big result in the next couple of months could give me that ticket for next year's ASP World Tour so I will remain focused on every heat."
Placing third in the San Miguel Pro Zarautz today were Nathan Yeomans (California, USA) and Glenn Hall (IRL), 27, both men failing to make the final of the ASP WQS 5-Star event despite displaying excellent surfing throughout the final day. Looking to better their overall ratings' points' total with their Zarautz campaign, both men reached their goal and leave Zarautz with a good confidence boost for the last part of the year.
Irish-Australian surfer Glenn Hall, ranked No. 21 on the international ratings before Zarautz, secured another good finish today by reaching the Semifinals to clinch 1500 points and go over the 10,000 points' mark, a significant move in the race to the ASP World Tour. Hall, who had opened his European campaign with an equal 3rd at Newquay a month ago, stepped-up again today to make the final-four and moves to the next event confidently.
"You never want to lose but it's a good result and I feel like I am surfing better than I have ever surfed so it's good to get that 3rd," Hall said. "I didn't know that heat was thirty minutes and I left the water too early than had to go back out and wasn't able to find that last ride. I am pretty happy to get a few more points for the ratings but the hardest part, more than making the Top 15 now, is to finish inside the Top 15 at the end of the year so it's still a long way.”
Nathan Yeomans, 28, was a late entry in the event starting from Round 1 and making his way through six heats to eventually miss out on the final, still an excellent run for the ASP WQS No. 14 who will head back home after four weeks of intense competition across Europe. Yeomans, who lacked a good second score during his battle with Thornton in Semifinal No. 1, got close to the final losing with a 12.67 point result to Thornton's 13.80 points' total.
"It came down to a good back-up ride in that Semifinal and I guess that air-reverse 360 could have made a difference if I had landed it," Yeomans said. "It feels great to get a few heats under my belt and get back into winning mode so I am happy with this result today especially after a few shockers in this summer. I've had a great time in Europe and mext for me is some time home for my sister's wedding than head to Brazil for the WQS events."
SAN MIGUEL PRO ZARAUTZ FINAL
1 – Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 12.73 pts
2 – Blake Thornton (AUS) 11.87 pts
SAN MIGUEL PRO ZARAUTZ SEMIFINALS
SF 1: Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.80 pts Def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 12.67 pts
SF 2: Gony Zibizarreta (ESP) 13.83 pts Def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 13.20 pts
SAN MIGUEL PRO ZARAUTZ QUARTERFINALS
QF 1: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 16.23 pts Def. Leigh Sedley (AUS) 14.94 pts
QF 2: Blake Thornton (AUS) 15.17 pts Def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.50 pts
QF 3: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 13.94 pts Def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.50 pts
QF 4: Glenn Hall (IRL) 11.50 pts Def. Luke Munro (AUS) 8.50 pts