Ben Player 2005 World Champion : hoto Danny Black Photos
International Bodyboarding Asscoiation
Australia's Ben Player is finally a player when it comes to world championships
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 January, 2006 : - - After several years of coming close, Player won his first bodyboarding world title yesterday by placing second in the Rockstar Games Pipeline Pro. The final day of the three-day competition was completed in 4- to 8-foot waves at the Banzai Pipeline.
"I knew I had to get a first or second (in the contest) to win the world title," said Player, 27. "But until I heard the official results, I didn't really believe it." For about an hour, Player believed that he also won the Pipeline Pro contest. He was even announced as the winner and was handed the first-place trophy at the awards ceremony.
But a scoring error was later discovered, giving the Pipeline Pro victory to fellow Australian Damian King. Player finished in second, followed by another Australian, Ryan Hardy, and then France's Cedric Dufaure. King was the two-time defending world champion prior to yesterday, so the Pipeline Pro victory was somewhat of a consolation.
"I knew I had no chance at the world title even if I won the contest," King said. "I kind of dealt with it (on Wednesday), so that helped me to focus just on Pipe. It was tough to take, losing the world title, but I was hoping to win Pipe to make up for it." King clinched the victory early in the 30-minute final heat when he rode through a long Backdoor Pipeline barrel. The judges rewarded him with a near-perfect 9.0 (out of 10).
King said competing in the final against friends helped him catch the high-scoring wave. "We did rock-scissors-paper before we went out to see who would get the first wave and I won," he said. "Since I had the priority I wanted to make sure it was a really good wave." It was King's second Pipeline Pro victory he also won it two years ago to clinch his first world championship.
The late recount could not take away the world title from Player. The Pipeline Pro was the final event of the International Bodyboarding Association's 2005 World Tour. Player entered the event ranked No. 4, but the three competitors ranked ahead of him were eliminated by the quarterfinals.
"I almost got ahead of myself, thinking if I win this competition, I can win the world title," Player said. "But then I treated every heat like a separate competition and it worked." Player had finished No. 2 in the world rankings twice before in his career. "Two times I've got second and every time I was really (ticked) off," he said. "I was trying to bring back those memories of how I felt when the other people won, and it kind of gave me that extra drive, I suppose."
King said: "I don't mind losing the world title to someone who deserves it, and Ben deserves it. He's never got it before, but he always put the effort into it." Hardy posted a perfect 10 in the semifinals, but could not find similar success in the final.
Vaj Lederer of the Big Island had the best showing among the Hawai'i competitors. He was eliminated in the semifinals and tied for fifth place. Kaua'i's Jeff Hubbard was eliminated in the fourth round. He was the only Hawai'i competitor with a shot at the world title.
Prior to the men's final, the women's finalists from the Rockstar Games Honolua Bay Pro held an expression session giving new world champ, Australian Kira Llewellyn a chance to showcase her talent back to back with the men at the wave that is considered the benchmark of bodyboarding performance. She was joined by Japan's Aoi Kioke , and Brazilians Linda Molina, Luzmarie Grande Perez, and Gabrielle Rodrigues.
In the Dropknee Division, Kauai's David Hubbard capped a stellar year by winning the final over South Africa's Brandon Foster and Hawaiian Powerhouse Kainoa McGee , making him the Dropknee World Champion. Dave also managed to win the dropknee division and fourth overall at the Rockstar Games Honolua Bay Pro.
1. David Hubbard (USA/Hawaii)
2. Brandon Foster (Sth Africa)
3. Kainoa McGee (USA/Hawaii)
4. Bud Miyamoto (USA/Hawaii)
IBA Contetsts - Surfersvillage