Kekoa Bacalso wins the Billabong Junior Pro in Hawaii
Billabong Junior Pro In Memory of Ronnie Burns
ASP Pro Junior Boys/Girls event
Kewalo Basin, Hawaii
30 August - 3 September 2004
Kekoa Bacalso wins the Billabong Junior Pro
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 02 September 2004: - - For the first time all year, Kekoa Bacalso got to compete against surfers his own age. As a result, he won the prestigious Billabong Junior Pro In Memory of Ronnie Burns contest yesterday at Kewalo Basin.
"I´ve been going up against a lot of the top international guys all year," Bacalso, 19, said. "It was nice to get home and go against some younger guys for a change, and finally win one."
The contest is for the state´s best surfers under the age of 21, professional or amateur. The top performers were selected to represent Hawai´i at the Billabong World Junior Championship in Australia next January. "That´s the biggest contest out there for guys this age," Bacalso said of the Australia event.
Bacalso is in his rookie year as a professional surfer. He is ranked No. 73 on the World Qualifying Series. "Surfing against those guys picks up your own ball game," said Bacalso, who is from Mililani. "It´s actually given me a lot of confidence." It showed throughout the day, as Bacalso consistently posted high scores in all of his heats. Waves were only 1 to 3 feet, but he said familiarity with the break played a role in his victory.
"There´s been so many contests here ever since I was a kid," he said. "I kind of know it like the back of my hand already." In the 30-minute final, Bacalso set the tone with his first wave. He completed several textbook turns, and received a score of 8.75 (out of 10) to give him a lead he would not relinquish. "When everybody is good, it comes down to who rips the hardest," Bacalso said. "Somehow, I got it this time."
As a result of his victory yesterday at Kewalo Basin, Mililani´s Kekoa Bacalso will be Hawai´i´s No. 1 seed at the Billabong World Junior Championship at Australia in January. Bacalso´s top two waves scored a total of 16.50 points, which was enough to earn him the $2,500 first prize.
Dustin Cuizon of ´Ewa Beach also made an impressive showing, finishing second by less than one point. His top two waves scored 15.85 points. "It was all about high-performance," Cuizon, 19, said. "You could go right or left and get a good score." Hank Gaskell of Maui was third, and Raymond Reichle of Sunset Beach was fourth.
Bacalso, Cuizon, Gaskell, Reichle, Gavin Gillette and Nathan Carroll received Hawai´i´s six guaranteed spots at the World Junior Championship contest. Several others could make it as alternates. Carroll also won a special "expression session" among the non-finalists.
In the girls division, Lani Hunter of Punalu´u captured first place and received $1,000 — the first paycheck of her career. Hunter caught two waves in the first 10 minutes of the 30-minute final, receiving scores of 8.00 and 7.25. She then sat on her board for the rest of the heat, and maintained the lead.
"It was weird," said Hunter, 16, a home-schooled student. "It looked like there were going to be good waves, but then there was nothing. I was freaking out at the end."
Carissa Moore, a seventh-grader at Punahou, scored a 9.00 in the closing minutes of the heat to finish a close second. Her two-wave total of 15.00 was .25 short of Hunter´s total. Ashley Hunter, Lani´s younger sister, placed third, and Tory Titcomb was fourth. "It´s hard surfing against my sister," Ashley, 12, said. "But once she moves up to the next level, then I can take her place because I´m still four years younger." There is no girls division at the Junior World Championship event at Australia.
Yesterday´s contest was held in honor of the late North Shore surfer Ronnie Burns, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1990.
1, Kekoa Bacalso, $2,500. 2, Dustin Cuizon, $1,500. 3, Hank Gaskell, $1,100. 4, Raymond Reichle, $900. 5 (tie), Gavin Gillette and Nathan Carroll, $600. 7 (tie), Mikey Mitchell and Casey Brown, $400.
1, Lani Hunter, $1,000. 2, Carissa Moore, $500. 3, Ashley Hunter, $300. 4, Tory Titcomb, $200. 5 (tie), Leah Dawson and Coco Ho. 7 (tie), Alana Brennan and Katherine Van Dyke.
Dayton Morinaga - Honolulu Advertiser
Junior Contests - Surfersvillage