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West Australia pro-am lights up Gracetown

Alex Durant © Surfing WA/Woolacott




HIF WA Pro Am Series 
Presented by SunSmart

Surfing Western Australia
Gracetown, Western Australia
22 - 23 February 2014

New school groms mix it up with WA legends

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 24 February, 2014 - A pulsing groundswell and clean weekend conditions provided an ideal canvas for competitors at the opening round of the Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF) WA Pro Am Series presented by SunSmart. Gracetown, just north of Margaret River played host to some of the state's most accomplished surfers, who shone in the challenging 4-6 feet (2.0-2.5 meter) surf and provided an exciting return to state competition for West Australian shortboarders. 

Many of the past, present and future surfing stars of  WA were on hand, all vying for a coveted spot into the trials of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in April.

A record field including; former ASP WCT competitor Jake Paterson (Yallingup), ASP world qualifying series surfers Jerome Forrest (Margaret River) and Luke Campbell (Trigg), along with host of local and regional talents Tom Innes (Dunsborough), Jack Robinson (Margaret River), James Fleming (Geraldton) and  Shaun Howe (Kalbarri) went all out in the blue ribbon Open Men's division with hopes of securing the prestigious trials position. 

Despite flying under the radar Shaun Howe, a former WA junior champion used his razor sharp forehand and powerful backhand manoeuvres to out-muscle some stiff competition in the preliminary rounds to advance smoothly to the final.

Event favourites Luke Campbell (Margaret River) and Tom Innes (Dunsborough), as well as youngster James Fleming (Gerladton) surfed with poise and natural ability, matching Howe's dominance and joining him in the Open Men's final. With so much on offer for the winer, the four finalists did not hold back as a head to head battle with surfers from the midwest and southwest.

From the onset it was clear that Howe and Innes were in rhythm with the ocean, laying down early major manoeuvres that had the judges scoring highly. Both surfers put on a solid display of power surfing in the 25 minute final, utilising the most critical section of their waves to send spray flying.

Howe demolished a long left hander and held the best individual score in the final (an 8.00), but had to hold off a fast finishing Innes. When the final siren sound less than one point separated the two surfers. Howe finished on a combined two wave total of 13.50 (from a possible 20), ahead of Innes on 12.93, Fleming in third on 8.93 and a wave starved Luke Campbell in fourth on 2.83.
"I had a crack at the state titles last year for the first time since I was a junior and it got the competitive juices flowing again," said Howe. "But to come out on top of this event is truly amazing," continued Howe after receiving his $500 winners cheque and confirmation of his part in WA's largest sporting event.
Margaret River's Josh Burke used his recent competition experience in ASP junior events on the east coast to take U/21 Pro Junior final in style. The defending Pro Junior state champion had little trouble negotiating the tricky lineup and was able to lock in a series of great scores to take out the win and claim the $150 prize cheque. Despite holding the best score of the final, an 8.33 (from a possible 10) Shaun Green had to settle for second, ahead of Jake Edwards (Cottesloe) in third and James Fleming (Geraldton) fourth.

"After being away for a month travelling and competing, it doesn't get any better to come home and score perfect waves like we've had this weekend." Burke said.
Paul 'Antman' Paterson (City Beach) surfed with explosive speed to win the O/35 Masters division. Paterson found himself in the best position for the best waves in the final and scored a combined total of 15.90, to pip his younger brother Jake Paterson for the win by just 0.57.

Mark Clift (Hillarys) didn't let a recent knee injury slow his performance, putting in an amazing effort to win both the O/40 Senior Masters and O/45 Grand Masters divisions in emphatic fashion. The Surfing WA life member and high performance coach showed his class with flawless rail to rail surfing and a committed variety to post some of the weekend's best scores.

An impressive 8.67 (from a possible 10) on his first wave in the O/40 final confirmed the win in the opening moments for Clift, while an 6.67 ride was the game changer for him in the O/45 final.

"I was lucky to string my best surfing together in those two heats. The waves have been so good and to win over a close group of mates make this a memorable weekend for me." said Clift.

Other winners from the weekend included Albany's Adrian Shepherd, who won the O/50 Legend's final, while Barrie McKinnon (Dunsborough) was unstoppable in the O/55 Kahunas division and local Gracetown surfer  Bailee Hastie taking out her first open win in thew  Women's division.

In the most entertaining division of the event, Tom Innes surfed a burrowed board to victory in the Single Fin division. Innes destroyed his opponents with an amazing display of style and power that was something reminiscent of the feature film The Drift, scoring a 17.17 combined total (from a possible 20).
"This has been a great weekend, I've enjoyed it so much and to see people score amazing waves all weekend is so good," said an elated Innes. Innes was also awarded the $150 'HIF Wave of the Weekend' for his near perfect 9.00 ride in the Single Fin final.

Surfing WA Events Manager Justin Majeks was ecstatic with the quality of the weekend surf and was impressed with the excellent field of competitors that made the long walk into the remote location for the opening event of the series. “The level of surfing displayed in these waves was phenomenal. To have some of the our new school groms here mixing it up with some of our older legends is pretty cool." He said.

The next event of the HIF Pro Am Series travels north to Geraldton on 24th - 25th May 2014, with anticipation already building for the second event of the series.


Open Men:
1. Shaun Howe (Kalbarri) 13.50pts $500, 2. Tom Innes (Dunsborough) 12.93pts $250, 3. James Fleming (Geraldton) 8.93pts $150, 4 Luke Campbell (Margaret River) 2.83pts $100.

Open Women:  
1. Bailee Hastie (Gracetown) 12.67pts $150, 2.Imogen Caldwell (Carnarvon) 9.33pts, 3. Emi Campbell (Denmark) 8.03pts, 4. Alex Durant (Carnarvon) 2.33pts.

Single Fin:   
1. Tom Innes (Dunsborough) 17.17pts, 2. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 9.80pts, 3. James Fleming (Geraldton) 4.93pts, 4. Zac Haynes (City Beach) 3.40pts

U/21 Pro Junior:
1. Josh Burke (Margaret River) 15.00pts $150, 2. Shaun Green (Margaret River) 13.83pts, 3. Jake Edwards (Cottesloe) 7.33pts, 4. James Fleming 7.24pts.

O/35 Masters:  
1. Paul Paterson (City Beach) 15.90pts, 2. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 15.23pts, 3. Luke Hayter (Scarborough) 4. Alan Pavlinovich (Trigg) 10.67pts.

O/40 Senior Masters:
1. Mark Clift (Trigg) 14.17pts, 2. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 12.94pts, 3. Alan Pavlinovich (Trigg) 7.33pts, 4. Paul Paterson (City Beach) 6.17pts.

O/45 Grand Masters:
1. Mark Clift (Trigg) 10.64pts, 2. Todd Taylor (Yallingup) 8.00pts, 3. Ross Fleming (Geraldton) 7.83pts, 4. Brian Jovic (Quinns Rock) 2.60pts.

O/50 Legends:
1. Adrian Sheherd (Albany) 14.83pts, 2. Pat Connell (City Beach) 10.76pts, 3. Sheldon Spencer (Mandurah) 7.23pts, 4. Barrie McKinnon (Dunsborough) 6.26pts.

O/55 Kahunas:
1. Barrie McKinnon (Dunsborough) 7.86pts, 2. Steve Pozzi (Woodvale) 0.00pts,
The HIF Pro Am Series is a three round series that travels to Margaret River, Geraldton and Rottnest Island and is proudly supported by the Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF), SunSmart, Otis Eyewear, Creatures of Leisure, West Coast Suspension, Be the Influence & 3D Fins.

Justin Majeks

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