BALLITO, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa — Patrick Gudauskas, 25, (San Clemente, California, USA) kept the Mr Price Pro Ballito crown in the family, earning the first ASP PRIME victory of his career by defeating John John Florence, 18, (HAW) in the final at Surfers Beach today.
Just two years after his brother Tanner won the event in 2009, Gudauskas stamped the family name on the 2011 edition of the Mr Price Pro Ballito, defeating Florence by 11.84 to 8.03 (out of 20.00) rocketing from World No. 27 to World No.15 on the ASP World Rankings.
“This is crazy! I’m so psyched right now,” Gudauskas said. “This is definitely the best event I’ve ever competed in and maybe the best one I’ve ever watched. It has been flawless for a whole week and we’re all psyched to be in Ballito.”
Stringing together a powerful combination of lip bashes and critical floaters on the tapering Ballito walls, Gudauskas took the lead with a 7.17 (out of ten) before landing a massive air-drop floater to seal his victory off just a 4.67.
“I just got lucky in the final,” Gudauskas said, “John John was the man to beat at this event and it was a tough heat. I went for turns while he was looking for barrels and I think he would have ‘smoked’ me, had he found one!”
Gudauskas’s achievement marks one for the record books, the Gudauskas brothers becoming the second pair of siblings to win Mr Price Pro after the Irons Brothers, late 3X ASP World Champion Andy and Bruce (HAW), did so in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
“It’s crazy, people were asking me about that all week and I knew it would be a difficult task to defend Tanner’s title,” Gudauskas said. “Somehow I pulled it off and the fact that Andy and Bruce did it, makes it even more special.”
Florence proved a crowd favourite as the standout barrel rider of the event. Netting the day’s highest heat score a 19.40 (out of 20.00) for a pair of cavernous ‘Backdoor’ style barrels during the quarterfinals, Florence stormed into the final where unfortunately the barrels dried up, ending the young Hawaiian’s hopes of lifting this year’s trophy.
“It was really hard, the wind came up and I was tired but I’m really stoked for Pat,” Florence said. “This morning was so fun, the waves were perfect and clean and there were a lot of barrels. I just kept getting lucky and getting into the good ones, it was a lot of fun.”
Florence’s performance comes just weeks after capturing a third place finish at the ASP PRIME in Portugal and sees the youngster move up to World No. 39 on the rankings.
“I’ve had a great run lately and I’ll be looking to do a few more contest and hopefully get a few more results.”
Defending champion South African Jordy Smith, 23 (Dbn, ZAF) reached the semifinals placing equal third, advancing from World No. 5 to World No. 2 on the ASP World Rankings.
“It was a bunch of fun but it’s just a pity there weren’t any waves in that heat,” Smith said. “You win some and you lose some and it’s still a great result that I will be looking to take into the next event in Jeffreys Bay.”
Suffering one of the slower heats of the day, Smith waited for the set waves and was quickly out-scored by Gudauskas. The American got to work further down the line slotting into barrel after barrel to take the lead with 5.23 and 6.33 rides.
With less than three minutes remaining, Smith had no choice but to take off on a smaller right-hander, working it for all it was worth to post a 6.33. Falling just short of the required score, the timer blew over for South Africa’s 2011 Mr Price Pro title hopes.
Julian Wilson, 22, (AUS) showed great consistency adding an equal third today, to his recent ASP PRIME victory in Portugal and climbs to World No. 16 on the rankings.
Wilson was narrowly defeated by Florence in their semifinal decider that saw Florence slot into a fantastic 8.33 barrel to take an early lead. Wilson clawed his way back with fast, on-the-lip maneuvers coming ever so close to taking the lead until Florence shut him down with just a 2.87 off the final wave, to advance into the final.
“I’m definitely happy with my result,” Wilson said. “That little bit of wind came up and it was hard to come out of the barrel. John John was by far the standout of this whole contest and that was pretty much like surfing a final. He’s the one to beat at this event for sure and I hope he goes all the way.”
Brazillian Jesse Mendes, 18, (BRA) posted the only perfect-10 ride of the day during his quarterfinal clash against Smith. The Brazilian talent slotting into a dredging Ballito cavern disappearing for several seconds but without a second high scoring ride was relegated to an equal fifth place finish.
The Mr Price Pro Ballito enjoyed flawless waves throughout the week and will go down in South African surfing history as some of the best waves ever surfed in competition.
For more information, photos and highlights log on to www.mrpricepro.com.
Final: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.84 def John John Florence (HAW) 8.03
Heat 1: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.70 def Jordy Smith(ZAF) 11.56
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 11..20 def Julian Wilson(AUS) 10.83
Heat 1: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 17.10 def Junior Faria (BRA) 13.76
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.07 def Jesse Mendes (BRA) 12.73
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.03 def Heath Joske (AUS) 8.87pts
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 19.40 def Blake Thornton (AUS) 9.34pts