Stephanie Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, newly-crowned two-time ASP Women’s World Champion, defeated Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26, to claim the her second consecutive Billabong Pro Maui in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves on offer at Ho’okipa Beach Park, earning the young Australian her first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (an ASP Specialty Series) Title.

The final event of the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Billabong Pro Maui opted for the relocation this morning from Honolua Bay to Ho’okipa Beach Park (the first relocation in the event’s 10-year history) in order take advantage of the swell on offer, and the action didn’t disappoint.

Gilmore opened the Final strong, posting a solid 7.33 out of a possible 10, but Bartels put her in the corner with two solid scores of her own. In an exciting exchange that saw the Hawaiian pull ahead on the first wave, Gilmore answered back with the highest score of the day, a 9.57 out of a possible 10 to retake the lead, immediately following it up with an 8.03 for a massive forehand turn combination. Bartels was unable to answer back.

“The tide ped and the conditions got really fun,” Gilmore said. “Mel (Bartels) is one of my favorite surfers and I just go as hard as I can when I draw her in a heat. You can’t put in a performance at half-speed and I saw her get a solid wave so I just went for broke on the next one and it paid off.”

The win marks the first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title for the prodigious natural-footer, an accolade considered second only to the ASP Women’s World Title.

“It feels incredible to win the Vans Triple Crown Title,” Gilmore said. “We had really fun waves at Haleiwa and then solid surf at Sunset Beach and we had a beautiful opening day of competition at Honolua Bay before finishing today at Ho’okipa. It’s a real honor to be considered a good surfer in Hawaii and in such a variety of conditions.”

Gilmore will now head home to Australia to rest and recharge for the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, and with two ASP Women’s World Titles, a Vans triple Crown Title and 11 elite tour victories under her belt (five in 2008 alone), the makings of an icon are well within place.

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Joel Parkinson 

Nixon is pleased to announce Joel Parkinson as the winner of the fourth and final stop of the 2008 Nixon WTA, after winning the Vans Triple Crown.

Parkinson made a solid showing in this year’s three events, kicking off with a fifth place finish at both the Reef Hawaiian Pro as well as at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing. He rounded out his performance with a ninth place finish at the Billabong Pipe Masters. Hailing from Australia’s Gold Coast, Parkinson has been a key player on tour all year with perhaps one of the most memorable achievements when he scored the first ever 20 out of 20 at Pipeline.

“It is great to award this very special watch to Joel. Not only does he represent the spirit and drive of today’s top surfers, he also has a serious sense of humor and will be showing off his new watch to all the boys,” stated Chad DiNenna, Nixon co-founder and Marketing Director.

Parkinson will be rewarded for his win with a custom Nixon 51-30 tide watch with nearly two carats of white baguette diamonds on the bezel crowned with a black onyx countdown timer marker. The one-of-a-kind watch also features three crowns to commemorate the event for which the watch was commissioned: a triple gasket screw crown, an easy adjust button to set the tide subdial, and a final crown which houses a compact screw driver to make band adjustments.

This timepiece also features a custom-engraved case back along with the names of the three locations of the Vans Triple Crown events etched into the side of the case wall.

This year’s WTA has schowcased unique talent with Ryan Hipwood (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA) and Royden Bryson (ZAF) claiming victory for the previous three Nixon WTA titles. Their respective wins were for heaviest wave in Teahupoo this past May, highest heat score at J-Bay in July and longest tube ride in Mundaka in late September. Competition for the Nixon WTA will resume once again next year in May at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti.

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Jay-R Esquivel

12 year old La Union local Jay-R Esquivel used his local knowledge and aggressive forehand attack to put together strong combinations of hacks, turns, floaters and aerials and best Siargao’s Philmar Alipayo in a closely contested final to claim the championship title at the 2nd annual Billabong Grommet Competition presented by StokedInc. held over the weekend at the beach breaks of San Juan in the province of La Union.

For his championship win, Esquivel received a brand new Anacapa surfboard from Aloha Boardsports, a leash and deck pad from Dakine, sunglasses from Von Zipper, shoes from Kustom, wax from Sticky Bumps, a shirt and boardshorts from Billabong, in addition to the rights to his championship title.

Starting his surfing career at the tender age of 8, young Esquivel has already traveled and competed in surf competitions throughout the Philippines since he was 10 years old. When asked how he felt about his win he replied, “I’m so happy to win here at my home break, in front of my friends and family. And to win a new surfboard, that’s the best thing ever! Thank you so much to Stoked Inc and all the great sponsors for having such a great event.”

Runner up 16 year old Alipayo hails from Siargao Island, an area rich with good surf breaks, and also put on an impressive display of surfing in the 25 minute final, but just came up short on points when the horn sounded. Coming in equal third were last year’s winner Peter Alipayo and Danny Coldura, both also from Siargao.

A total of 46 kids from 6 provinces in the Philippines (La Union, Daet, Catanduanes, Samar, Lanuza, Surigao, and Baler), ranging in age from 7 to 16 years of age, arrived at the beach on Saturday morning November 29th to compete for prizes and the prestige of becoming the Philippines top grommet surfer. (The term “grommet” is used in the surfing world to refer to young surfers, usually those 16 years of age and under.)

Competition was fierce and the conditions were often very challenging for the brave young surfers, as the South China Sea was dishing out some rough 3-4 foot waves that pounded onto the sandy bottomed beach of San Juan.

Good wave selection as well as technical ability was required to get good scores, as often only one or two maneuvers per wave were possible. Big bottom and top turns and completed floaters were what the judges were looking for, and after almost 8 hours, three rounds of competition were completed by 5 pm.

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