Hank Gaskell

Congratulations to Hank Gaskell (HAW), Tahiti-bound champion of this year's 2009 Xcel Pro Presented by Honolua!

In a tough final heat of 4 Sunset specialists, Gaskell, 23, showed poise, patience, and smart wave selection to edge out runner-up Pancho Sullivan, third place Myles Padaca, and fourth place finisher Shane Beschen.

"It's an amazing start for my winter - I've never had a result this good in my life," the soft-spoken Gaskell told Xcel after the winner's ceremony on the beach.

Sunday's NW swell declined only slightly for the morning's semi-finals and finals heats, with Sunset clean and delivering 6' to 10' faces on the west peak. Swell conditions and extended heat times challenged competitors to be patient and find workable faces with scoring potential.

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Shawn Barron

With Fall barely out the gate, the second major North West Pacific swell marched towards the Oregon coastline promising endless amounts of giant surf for a few solid days. With the predicted buoy reading of 17' @ 17 seconds, Mother Nature delivered once again a massive blow with some 35'-40'+ wave face heights at a select outer reef justsouth of the now famous Nelscott Reef. The locals call it 'South Reef'and rarely does it break as it did on October 22, 2009!

"I have lived here for a long time and I have never seen South Reef break the way it did on this day. For sure, it has the potential to get even bigger. The only concern at that point would be getting out thru the beach break. If South Reef is 50'-60', then the beach break would be a solid 30'+ with very heavy surges!" - Keith Galbraith

Further south from the outer reefs which were exploding giant size waves 1/2 mile off shore, is a newly discovered slab called 'Yeti', where mutant like waves appear out of know where and break deep below sea level, virtually disintegrating every thing in its path. Local tow-in pioneers of this mutant slab, Dan Hasselschwert and Ollie Richardson were the first towsurfers to ride this wave back in 2006 w/ the assistance of a PWC and tow-ins. That same year, Keith Galbraith and Eric Akiskalian joined the duo team for a second session and realized that they had a world class slab right in their own back yard. Last year, big wave charger and legend Mark Healey from Hawaii, went to claim the Monster Tube Award at the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards with his heroic deep barrel ride at the Yeti.

Prior to the recent and anticipated large swell hitting the coast, local Oregon big wave charger Keith Galbraith invited his good friend and Volcom team rider, Shawn 'Barney' Barron, one of Santa Cruz's hellmen to come and tow the slab and partner up with Sage Huls from Hawaii. When the giant surf started pounding the Oregon coastline, it was the usual local big wave team riders of Tim Henton of Oregon Surf Shop, / Mark Bulider, Dan Hassleschwert / Ollie Richardson and Keith Galbraith along with Eric Akiskalian of Towsurfer.com and friends that scored a solid four days of surfing beach break A-Frames and towing mutant slabs and South Reef bombs!

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Peter Devries

The inaugural Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada saw a fairytale ending today when local standout Peter Devries (Tofino, BC), 26, went on an absolute rampage to claim the event over Jay Thompson (Burleigh Heads, AUS), 27, in front of his home crowd in Tofino on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Devries stormed through an unbelievable list of some of the world’s finest surfing talent to take out the win today, besting former ASP World Tour Standout Cory Lopez (Dana Point, CA), 32, and current ASP WQS No. 12 Glen Hall (IRE), 27, before topping Thompson at his local break of North Chesterman’s beach. The O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada was the first time an ASP event had touched Canadian soil and Devries made history as the first Canadian to claim an ASP WQS win.

“I can’t believe it,” Devries said. “This contest was just such a great opportunity for me and thanks so much to everyone, my friends, family, sponsors and everyone in town for all of the support and helping me get to where I am. I’m just so stoked to have all of these guys competing here and I can’t believe I came out on top with all of these incredible guys surfing here.”

The Canadian regular-footer wasted no time getting to work in his match against Thompson and had the current ASP World No. 32 in a combination situation within the first 10 minutes of their heat with devastating forehand maneuvers on the wedgy Tofino peaks.

“I was really stoked with those couple of little rights that I had,” Devries said. “They were nice and clean and had a clean open face. I surfed semi-conservatively to start. Then I was looking for an air section or something a little bigger and then I got that one that went all the way to the beach."

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