COOLANGATTA — Hawaiians Kekoa Bacalso, 24, and Coco Ho, 18, have claimed the 2009 ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour Rookie of the Year Award, states a press release from the Association of Surfing Professionals.
Bacalso, who finished ASP World No. 18, proved to be the dark horse amongst his rookie class, smashing the competition and constantly stringing together impressive results to claim the 2009 ASP Rookie of the Year award.
“I’m super stoked to win this award,” Bacalso said. “My main goal coming into this season was to finish within the Top 27, so to claim the Rookie of the Year award is a bonus and I wasn’t expecting it. Freddy P (Fredrick Patacchia) was giving me a hard time throughout the year because he and Andy (Irons) won it when they were rookies and now I guess it’s Dusty’s (Payne) turn.”
Following a strong start to his 2009 campaign with an equal fifth-place finish at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Bacalso’s best result of the year, the Hawaiian powerhouse was able to take a relaxed approach to competition while bettering his seed throughout the season.
“This year on the World Tour was exactly what I expected,” Bacalso said. “It was the most fun year ever and for me it was kind of stress-free because I was never really the bubble boy. I learned a lot and it was sick to be able to check out lots of the spots on tour that I hadn’t been to before.”
Now that Bacalso has clinched the Rookie of the Year title, he hopes to up his game for 2010 and has his scope set on a spot amongst the Top 16 while bettering his competitive skills and enjoying the new faces of the ASP Dream Tour for next year.
“My goal is to finish within the Top 16,” Bacalso said. “I’m going to take it one step at a time, but I’ve realized I’ve got to step it up and be on top of my ball game. The guys that finish within the Top 5 are really motivating because it seems like they’re unbeatable, they’re spectacular, and so I’m hoping to lose a few pounds for next year and try to motivate myself to train. It should be a great year with five Hawaiians on tour and all of the new guys like the Gudangs (Gudauskas brothers). I’m looking forward to it.”
Coco Ho, who finished ASP Women’s World No. 4 this year, was the highest-rated rookie amongst the ASP Top 17 and was the only surfer amongst the rookie class to win an event this year when she claimed the Rip Curl Pro Search Portugal. The impressive victory combined with two semifinals and two quarterfinals berths were enough to cement the young Hawaiian at the top of her class.
“This is the best award to win,” Ho said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s great to have won it with five really strong rookies on Tour last year. They pushed me really hard and the Rookie of the Year award means a lot to me.”
Ho, who’s unexpected qualification to the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour came as a surprise to several, was cautious to set expectations entering her first year amongst the women’s finest surfers, but settled into the tough competition naturally, finding herself in the running for the 2009 ASP Women’s World Title entering the second-to-last event of the year.
“Coming into my rookie year, I didn’t have any expectations because I was the last seed and the last to qualify,” Ho said. “I kind of qualified for the World Tour accidentally and it felt great to know that entering the second-to-last event of the year that I was in contention for the Women’s World Title.”
The Hawaiian natural-footer is hoping she can further establish herself as a ratings’ leader on the 2010 calendar and is looking to focus primarily on ASP Women’s World Tour competition.
“Looking to next year, I’m hoping to stay within the top five on the ratings,” Ho said. “I’m hoping that if my year starts off well that I won’t have to do the ‘QS and that I can just focus my time on the World Tour, but I’m just going to see how the year plays out.”
For the 2010 ASP World Tour and ASP Women’s World Tour schedules and qualifiers log onto www.aspworldtour.com.