Tagged as the greatest day ever for professional surfing on the South Shore of Oahu, the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 1-Star Macy’s E-Series presented by ASP Hawaii ended on an all-time high today, in great conditions at Ala Moana Bowls.
Haleiwa’s Flynn Novak was the winner, pocketing $2,500, second went to Bowls local David Gonsalves (Honolulu), third was Jason Shibata (Haleiwa), and fourth was veteran competitor Kaipo Jaquias (Lihue, Kauai).
Saving the best for the very last day of the nine-day holding period, Bowls turned on and pumped out waves with machine-like consistency. Wave face heights of six-to-eight feet stacked up before barreling and walling off all the way through to the Waikiki boat harbor entrance.
The top of the swell peaked during the semi-finals where the average scoring ride for all competitors across the board came in at 9.25 points out of a possible 10 - a first for pro surfing here in Hawaii.
But the surfer’s paradise was a judge’s hell as four surfers at a time fired off a rapid succession of rides in heat after heat, round after round. Three perfect 10-point wave scores were reserved for Evan Valiere (Kauai, round three), Gonsalves (Quarterfinals), and Novak (Semifinals). The highest two-wave heat total went to Jaquias: 19.65 points in his semi-final heat (9.85 and 9.8 points).
It was a memorable day for the finalists - Novak, 25, scoring his first pro victory at a break he never surfs because none of the local crowd will ever give him a wave for 36-year-old Gonsalves, who hasn’t been in a final since 1995 but changed all that today riding his 15-year-old daughter’s board and for Jaquias, also 36, whose last final was a decade ago. For 19-year-old Shibata, today was just one more step in the direction of a stellar career that is rapidly unfolding.
Novak was the lone goofy-footer in the 30-minute final and capitalized on the better waves by locking into lengthy tube rides before systematically shredding his rides to pieces. The blistering, vertical back-side attack of his rivals was barely kept at an arm’s length and Novak was just fortunate to secure the larger set waves that tipped the scales in his favor. The final score-line showed 16.85 out of 20 for Novak (9.1, 7.75) 15.1 for Gonsalves (8.5, 6.6) 15 for Shibata (7.5, 7.5) and 13.3 for Jaquias (7.25, 6.05).
"It came down to surfing," said Novak. "I didn’t battle with anybody the whole time and usually I’m kind of a snake in heats. This was nerve-wracking enough just seeing perfect waves go by and having the chance to actually get them. Me being white and blonde, I can’t even surf out here unless it’s over six or eight feet because that’s about the only time I can get a wave. I surfed out here once about a week ago and I remembered why I never come out. This was just a treat.
"I’ve never surfed waves this good, besides maybe Pipeline. It’s not very often you get nines in every single heat you’re in and I’ve never gotten a 10 before. Every single heat was like a final in itself."
Flynn’s average wave score from Quarterfinals through the final was 9.0. For Gonsalves, leaving his daughter surfboard-less on the best day of surf this year meant he had to make good of the opportunity.
"I order boards that work for the both of us - save money," said Gonsalves. "Before it came down to the final, in the early rounds, I was thinking about me and Kaipo being in the final - and probably the heaviest guys too! And the oldest on top of it! I kind of thought it would happen and it did. I was stoked. For this size (of waves), it’s as good as it gets."
Putting the day’s action into global perspective was full-time touring professional ASP judge Dave Shipley: "This is the best day of competitive surfing I’ve seen this year. The waves we’ve seen today and the level of surfing is as good as anything you could possibly witness in professional surfing."
This was the second and final men’s pro event of the Macy’s E-Series. The third and final event of the Series will be a Grade 1-Junior Pro that will be held at Kuhio Beach, Waikiki, on August 18.
ASP Hawaii and Macy’s collaborated to produce the Macy’s E-Series, giving Hawaii’s pro surfing community a much needed opportunity to win valuable ASP WQS points at home breaks. These points will count towards qualification for the 2008 Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the 2009 elite ASP World Tour.
Source: ASP World Tour