Nic Muscroft (AUS), 26, won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime Santa Surf Pro at Lanzarote today in the Canarian archipelago clinching valuable 3000 ratings’ points that rocket him to No. 10 on the international ratings and increases his chances of qualifying for next year’s ASP World Tour. Muscroft, who defeated Oahu’s North Shore former ASP World Junior Champion Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) in wind blown three foot (one meter) waves at the world-class lefthander of San Juan, was impressive throughout the week with his consistency and unstoppable state of mind.
Muscroft, who posted a solid 14.43 point heat tally to best Bacalso’s threatening 14.00 point score (both out of a possible 20), was in good form all week and ended up winning his first event this year in a wave-starved 35-minute final battle where Bacalso was never able to find the 5.60 point ride he needed.
"It was gnarly, probably the gnarliest finish I have ever had," Muscroft said. "It was stressfull for me and I’m sure it was for Kekoa (Bacalso) as well. We had fifteen minutes with no waves right after I got my last one so I could not hope for more. He still had priority so I knew that he would make it if a wave came because he had been surfing so good the whole week."
Muscroft, who surfed seventeen ASP WQS events as well as most ASP World Tour contests thanks to an injury replacement wildcard, eventually sees his efforts pay off with the biggest win of his career to date.
"I feel like I have been surfing good the whole year and been pretty consistent," Muscroft said. "I knew it was more a matter of time before something came through with a big result so it is just amazing. I am over the moon right now."
Muscroft jumps from No. 25 to No. 10, and with three major events only remaining before the end-of-the-year Top 15 is decided and climbs into next year’s ASP World Tour, the Santa Surf Pro champion will be confident in the upcoming event in Portugal.
"That is all I was thinking about, those 3000 points and the ratings in the last minutes of the final," Muscroft said. "It is such an important event and to come all the way and get the win is just incredible. I am firing and ready to go for the next one in Portugal."
Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, ASP World Junior Champion in 2006 and renowned for his powerful surfing, got the best wave of the final but lacked a back-up score to secure a second ASP WQS 6-Star Prime win this year after his victory in the Maldives in June. Bacalso, who posted two of the ten best heat scores of the event including an impressive 16.84 point total in Quarterfinals, lost by 0.43 point only not finding any second wave after opening his final run with an 8.83.
"I sat out there waiting for a second wave but the tide just came in way too much," Bacalso said. "I am stoked to be in the final but still feeling frustrated a bit not to get that win."
Bacalso, who defeated Phil MacDonald (AUS) in Semifinal No. 2, climbs up to 21st on the ratings and will be a favorite on his homelands of Hawaii for the finish in Haleiiwa and Sunset’s 6-Star Prime events.
"It is still a long way and many events to go so I am not thinking of ratings," Bacalso said. "The North shore is my backyard, my battle ground so bring it on, I am ready to do well at home."
Phil MacDonald (AUS), 29, was stopped by runner-up Bacalso achieving a second excellent performance in Europe after his win at Ericeira in Portugal last August. MacDonald, who improved heat after heat during the event, still posted a solid 14.67 point score (out of a possible 20) but was not able to counter Bacalso’s great wave choice in the last minutes and finishes equal 3rd with a promissing performance.
"It’s been a pity because there was not enough waves but Kekoa surfed really well," MacDonald said. "It went very slow and Kekoa almost had the heat with his first wave but I put myself back in the picture with those two good scores and then he found that last good wave which gave him the win. I am still happy with the result."
MacDonald, a former ASP World title contender who ped back to the World Qualifying Series (WQS) at the end of 2007 missing the requalification by one slot only, leaves Lanzarote’s reefbreaks rated No. 10 on the international ratings with confidence.
"I am happy with the way I am surfing at the moment and not looking at any points," MacDonald a.k.a Macca said. "I will wait until Sunset (the last ASP WQS event of the year in Hawaii) to look at that Top 15 spot but I am focused on my equipment and the way I surf and it is what I have been working on most. I am looking forward to surfing the next event and with a good result there, I should be able to get a go for next year’s ASP World Tour."
Drew Courtney (AUS), 29, who ended up equal 3rd in the Santa Surf Pro after defeating last year’s runner-up Shaun Cansdell (AUS) in Quarterfinal No. 2, was left out of reach of the final despite a stellar performance during the 6-day event and finished short of 2.5 points to get through one more heat. Courtney, who had to face both his opponent and the poor surf on offer, ended up his 2008 run with an average 11.17 point heat score (out of a possible 20), not enough to secure his berth in the final.
"It was pretty slow all today but if you picked up the right one there were still some great waves," Courtney said. "Nick (Muscroft) got an 8.83 point ride and he well deserved to win. I was not lucky during the heat, I broke a board and just could not catch the best waves. But it is definitely a good run and relieves me a lot."
Courtney, who takes a valuable 2250 points’ reward for his result, will now fly to Portugal for the ASP WQS 6-Star Estoril Coast Pro before attending the grand finish on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, and remains well in position to hope for a spot among next year’s ASP Top 45.
"I am really happy with the result," Courtney said. "I surfed farely well during the event and those points are definitely a big achievment. It has been ten years for me trying to qualify and it seems like I am almost there. It’s been my goal forever, trying to be up there for a year at least so I am stoked."
The ASP WQS European Series will come to an end next week and the professional surfing caravan will land at Lisbon tomorrow for another week of world class action at the Estoril Coast Pro, an ASP WQS 6-Star event.
The Santa Surf Pro is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com
1 - Nic Muscroft (AUS) 14.43 pts
2 - Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 14.00 pts
SF 1: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 13.83 pts Def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 11.17 pts
SF 2: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 16.00 pts Def. Phil MacDonald (AUS) 14.67 pts
QF 1: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.16 pts Def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.84 pts
QF 2: Drew Courtney (AUS) 14.67 pts Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 11.50 pts
QF 3: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 16.84 pts Def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.43 pts
QF 4: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 16.23 pts Def. Gabe Kling (USA) 16.17 pts
ROUND 5 RESULTS
Heat 1: Heitor Alves (BRA) 16.27 pts Def. Austin Ware (USA) 10.17 pts
Heat 2: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.36 pts Def. Adam Robertson (AUS) 12.94 pts
Heat 3: Drew Courtney (AUS) 12.34 pts Def. Bobby Hansen (NZL) 10.83 pts
Heat 4: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.00 pts Def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.03 pts
Heat 5: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 17.50 pts Def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 10.93 pts
Heat 6: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.33 pts Def. Simao Romao (BRA) 12.30 pts
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 13.16 pts Def. David Weare (ZAF) 8.56 pts
Heat 8: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 14.83 pts Def. Shaun Gossmann (AUS) 13.77 pts