Roy Powers wins REEF Hawaiian Pro

HALE‘IWA — Kaua‘i’s Roy Powers survived the largest day of surf ever contested at Hale‘iwa in the 25-year history of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing to win the REEF Hawaiian Pro yesterday. Powers posted one of the most conclusive wins in history to defeat Australian pair Bede Durbidge and Joel Parkinson, and Hale‘iwa local Sean Moody in waves of 12- to 20-feet to pocket $15,000 and move to 12th on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Qualifying Series — a result that guarantees him a spot on the 2008 World Championship Tour.

But the Kaua‘i surfer’s victory was far more than a simple win. Having already surfed through three gruelling 25-minute heats earlier in the day to get to the final, Powers was looking to conserve power by nailing the door shut early. He met his goal with two of the most thrilling tube-rides of the contest and the highest heat score of the event.

By the 20-minute mark of the 35-minute final, Powers posted two near-perfect scores of 9.17 and 9.67 that eclipsed his rivals. With five minutes remaining, all three of the trailing surfers were enduring a rinse cycle on the inside courtesy of a series of crushing waves. With three-and-a-half minutes remaining, all three were standing exhausted on dry sand in time to see Powers’ last ride.

The final scoreline showed 18.84 points out of 20 to Powers, 13.74 for Durbidge ($7,500), 12.0 to Parkinson ($4,000), and 6.37 for Sean Moody ($3,000).

It wasn’t just about riding big waves either. Yesterday’s lineup was a brutal test of endurance, lung capacity, will-power and mind-power. Raging rip-currents hundreds of yards wide encircled the contest zone. Competitors had to battle to simply stay in position for a ride; a problem compounded by rogue set waves that bulldozed the break and swept surfers assunder. Take-offs were often elevator drops, and waves didn’t necessarily cooperate after that, randomly doubling up to offer a dredging tube-ride or a wipeout that presented like a head-on collision.

To do it all, under pressure, made the win all the more sweet for Powers.

“I wanted another opportunity to get on the WCT,” Powers said in a release. “I was a little cocky before. Now I think I’ve grown up a bit and I realize it’s not that easy and it won’t be a walk in the park. Now I want to win the Triple Crown — to me that’s priceless.

“I wanted to keep the momentum going and keep the pressure on everybody else. I was so worried that someone else was going to get two nines, too. I mean, it happens. So I stayed out there and paddled around them every time and I wasn’t going to give them any chance.”

Durbidge and Parkinson were the first to put scores on the board shortly after the starting horn and looked to be setting up a fall for the locals. With early scores of 6.67 and 5.33 to Parkinson, and a 7.67 for Durbidge, things were looking up for the Aussies. But it wasn’t long before the bottom dropped out on them, just like the waves they stroked into. The Australians should have known it wasn’t going to be easy, with Powers and Moody earlier taking down world champion-elect Mick Fanning and former world champ Andy Irons.

“I virtually surfed the whole contest today, so I’m pretty tired,” Parkinson said in a release. “It’s good to be in contention for the Triple Crown though.”

Parkinson was a semi-finalist here last year, and won the Sunset Beach event to be a Vans Triple Crown contender in 2006. With the battle for the world title now beyond him, a Triple Crown victory would round the year out on a high.

For Durbidge, it was an excellent start to his Triple Crown campaign. A powerful regular-foot surfer, also from the Gold Coast of Australia, he will be a strong starter at Sunset Beach, too.

Moody entered the REEF Hawaiian Pro as a wildcard, being one of REEF’s feature sponsored riders. It was an opportunity he put to good use.

“The conditions were about as challenging as they get in Hawai‘i today,” said Moody.

Despite losing out in the semi-finals (5th place overall), Basque surfer Aritz Aranburu was one of the highlights of the final day’s action. Eliminating Bruce Irons, world No. 2 Taj Burrow and other highly seeded surfers en-route to the semi’s, Aranburu now sits at fifth on the WQS ratings and will be a starter on the 2008 World Championship Tour.

“It’s been an amazing contest for me and I didn’t expect it, I was just trying to do the best I could,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t expect to eliminate Taj Burrow.”

Californian Tim Reyes was the top Mainland American surfer, placing equal seventh overall, losing out in the same semi-final heat that Aranburu did, to Bede and Parkinson.

The highest placed Brazilians were Heitor Alves and Rodrigo Dornelles, who placed 17th and 25th respectively. Dornelles will be best remembered, however, for his death-defying wipeout today, when he free-fell into the barrelling abyss of a 20-footer.

The REEF Hawaiian Pro is the first jewel of the 25th anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Carrying the highest WQS rating of 6-stars, for both men and women, this event is critical in determining the lineup for the elite World Championship Tour next year.

Competition now moves to Sunset Beach for the men’s O’Neill World Cup of Surfing — another 6-star WQS, and the women’s Roxy Pro — an elite ASP World Championship Tour event. The official holding period at Sunset begins tomorrow, and runs through December 6.


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