Malia Manuel: white water gladiator

Malia Manuel won the Billabong Girls Azores Islands Pro 2011 after defeating Felicity Palmateer, from Australia, in excellent 3-4ft peaks at Praia de Santa Barbara, Portugal. The ASP 6-Star surf event enjoyed some high performance, rippable peaks and deep barrels to cap off a marathon day of competition.

Manuel made it back-to-back Star event victories following her win in Pantin, Spain last week to finish off her European campaign in the best possible fashion. In the tactical final where positioning and wave selection proved crucial, it was the young Hawaiian, whose grandfather originated from the Azores islands, gaining the edge with a solid 6.67 (out of 10) with a series of backhand snaps to take victory.

“It feels surreal right now. I had struggled at the beginning of the year and then come to Europe and wind two events in-a-row is just extraordinary. I don’t know what to say. I am so happy we had waves and it was a great final. To win back-to-back feels really good. (laughs)”.

With both finalists looking for the advantage, tactics and positioning became crucial with many position changes made by both girls. Manuel gave little importance to priority as the sets continued to pulse during the lowering tide.

“There were a few different peaks you could surf and a couple of different options so I wasn’t worried about priority and was just trying to put on a show and get some waves. I was waiting for a right to come through but it didn’t happen. It was a low scoring final and I am so lucky and happy to come away with a win.”

Palmateer claimed her best result of the season with her first final appearance in the 2011 season. The powerhouse goofy footer ripped apart the jacking peaks in her semi-final matchup to enter the final in great form. Unlucky not to latch onto a decent scoring ride, Palmateer has jumped up the Star rankings.

“I am really excited and every heat I kept getting through and I am so happy. I haven’t had any good results this year so just to make the final has given me a massive confidence boost. I am happy for Malia for winning and qualifying for the tour and happy for myself for getting second. I was sitting out there this morning and I heard the girls were on and it was pumping. It usually doesn’t happen like that so I am stoked.”

Billabong Girls Azores Islands Pro Final Result
Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.90 Def. Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 10.40