Jason Shibata conquers the Sponsor Me Hawaii

June 24, 2010 | Surfing

Jason Shibata: home winner

Make no mistake: Jason Shibata isn't ready to pass the competitive torch just yet. Just when the 29-year-old starts talking about a life after pro surfing life, he turns in the biggest result of his career, in front of a home crowd, to take first place in the $25,000 Sponsor Me Hawaii. Shibata's win of this 2-star rated Association of Surfing Professionals event earned him $5,000 and a long-awaited turn on the victory dais.

Shibata couldn't have written the script any better for himself: Perfect five-foot surf at his childhood stomping ground of Ala Moana Bowls with all of his peers there to enjoy it with him. He rarely surfs the place these days, opting for something a little less crowded and intense.

But the opportunity to dominate the coveted South Shore lineup with just three others out was one he couldn't help but put to good use. His backhand attack was vertical, critical and lightning fast. His tube-riding, which earned him an 8.6 and ultimately clinched the final, was deep and committed.

"I was tripping because I wasn't really in the spot (for the tube)," said Shibata. "I was really deep and it swung wide. I just paddled... got in, it started off really tight and almondy and I'm going for it. But it let me out and from then on I had a huge smile on my face and thought, maybe today is the day, and I just went with it."

Along with his fellow finalists Kai Barger (Haiku, Maui, 2nd), Pancho Sullivan (Haleiwa, 3rd), and Casey Brown (Kona, Hawaii), Shibata surfed through five rounds over 11 hours today. It was a grueling day that was well worth the effort.

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