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Shaun Howe nabs back-to-back HIF Pro Am wins

Shaun Howe © Woolacott




HIF Pro Am Series Round 2
Presented by Sunsmart

Surfing Western Australia
Flat Rocks, Geraldton, Western Australia
24 - 25 May, 2014

Shaun Howe uses his experience at Flat Rocks

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 May, 2014 - Trigg Beach - Blustery winter conditions didn't deter an all-star field of West Australian surfers from lifting the performance bar and going all out for the second event of the Health Insurance Fund of Australia (HIF) Pro Am Series presented by SunSmart.

Large surf and strong onshore winds transformed a typically sunny Gerladton, with competitors from as far north as Carnarvon and as far south as Albany converging on the ever reliable 'Flat Rocks' to battle the elements in the hunt for prestigious 2014 WA State Surfing Titles.

Mid-West local and former WA Junior Champion, Shaun Howe (Geraldton) confirmed he is a genuine threat in any surf, defeating a classy field to claim back-to-back victories in the Open Men's division and in the process captured his maiden blue ribbon Open Men's State Title.

Using his vast competition experience combined with his smooth style, Howe was able to take down former ASP World Tour competitor Jake Paterson (Yallingup), South-West powerhouse Tom Innes (Dunsborough) and the radiply improving James Fleming (Geraldton) in an entertaining the 30 minute final.
Howe displayed precision, speed and a forte of innovative manoeuvres that, despite the best efforts of fellow finalists couldn't be matched on the scoreboard. In closest result of the entire event, Howe was able to edge out Paterson by just 0.03, Innes by just 0.07 and Fleming by 1.26 in a truly nail bitting finish.

"I am so happy right now. I've been doing comps for a long time and I still love them. To have my friends and family here today to watch me and cheer me on is is amazing.” Said an elated Howe who will now spearhead the WA State Team in NSW for the Australian Surf Festival in August.

The runner up result for Jake Paterson meant relinquishing his Open Men's State Champion Title to Howe, but this was just one of four finals Paterson contested in a marathon campaign.

Paterson surfed five times on finals day and looked incredible on his way to wins in the SIngle Fin, O/35 Masters and O/40 Senior Masters divisions. His strong backhand attack and variety saw Paterson regularly dropping excellent scores, including one near perfect 9.17 (from a possible 10) that was eventually awarded the HIF 'Wave of the Weekend'. 

"I'm definitely exhausted thats brutal work out there. It's been a great weekend, and looking at the forecast we got pretty lucky I think, I love competing and I love getting up to Geraldton for this event," said Paterson.

Another former ASP World Tour surfer, Claire Bevilacqua (Yallingup) made an impressive return to the HIF Pro Am Series with a win Open Women's division. Bevilacqua showed her strong surfing pedigree,  picking off the best waves of the final to defeat Bailee Hastie (Gracetown), Pheobe McGreogor (Yallingup) and Marnie Durant (Carnarvon), who finished in second third and fourth respectively.

"I wouldn't have surfed here at Flatties for probably 10 years," said Bevilacqua. "I love these sort of waves, growing up in Perth you have to make the most of marginal conditions, so I had nothing but fun out there."

In other results from the weekend Yallingup's Todd Taylor won the O/45 Grand Masters with a great display of high speed power surfing. 

Adrian Shepherd (Albany) won the O/50 Legends division and joined Shaun Howe by claiming the WA State Title after backing up his result from Margaret River in February. Shepherd the reigning O/50 WA State Champion was stoked to back up his efforts saying, "To be recognised amongst your peers is always a great honour, this has been a long but successful trip for me and I want to thank everyone here." 

James Fleming stuck a perfect aerial reverse to beat a fast finishing Harry McPherson (Mandurah) in the U/21 Pro Junior Final. While Ian Darby (North Beach) was  successful in the O/55 Kahunas division.

Surfing WA Events Manager Justin Majeks was impressed by the strong field of competitors that made their way to Geraldton to compete. "I take my hat off to everyone who paddled out over the last two days, the Geraldton Boardriders for their continued support, along my team of officials and staff who worked hard all weekend."

As the 2014 Australian Surf Festival in Coffs Harbour NSW draws closer, final event of the HIF Pro Am Series presented by SunSmart is set to be electric. The third and final event of the series is set to travel to Rottnest Island on 21st - 22nd June 2014, with anticipation already building to see who will capture this years remaining State Titles and qualify for the National Titles.

Open Men:
1. Shaun Howe (Kalbarri) 13.93pts $500, 2. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 13.90pts $250, 3. Tom Innes (Dunsborough) 13.77pts $150, 4. James Fleming (Gerladton) 12.67pts $100.

Open Women:
1. Claire Bevilacqua (Yallingup) 11.63pts $150, 2. Bailee Hastie (Gracetown) 7.84pts, 3. Phoebe McGregor (Yallingup) 7.23pts, 4. Marnie Durant (Carnarvon) 6.63pts.

Single Fin:
1. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 13.84pts, 2. Felix Raiss (Margaret River) 10.83pts, 3. Tom Innes (Dunsborough) 9.17pts, 4. Brody Maclean (Yallingup) 7.50pts.

U21 Pro Junior:
1. James Fleming (Geraldton) 12.60pts, 2. Harry McPherson (Mandurah) 12.57pts, 3. Jack Thomas (Yallingup) 10.53pts, 4. Damian Fleming (Gerladton) 7.00pts.

O35 Masters:
1. Jake Paterson (Yallingup) 13.50pts, 2. Paul Burke (Dunsborough) 11.10pts, 3. Alan Pavlinovich (Trigg) 8.67pts, 4. Luke Hayter (Doubleview) 0.00pts.

O40 Snr Masters:
1. Jake Paterson (Yallingup)15.00pts, 2. Paul Burke (Dunsborough) 9.90pts, 3. Alan Pavlinovich (Trigg) 9.04pts, 4.  Todd Taylor (Dunsborough) 8.67pts.

O45 Grand Masters:
1. Todd Taylor (Dunsborough) 21.26pts 2. Pat Connell (City Beach) 17.77pts, 3. Adrian Shepherd (Albany) 17.13pts, 4. Sheldon Spencer (Mandurah) 14.53pts, 5. Peter McCallum (Perth) 4.30pts. (Please note: Aggregate scores from two finals.) 

O50 Legends:
1. Adrian Shepherd (Albany) 16.94pts, 2. Ian Darby (North Beach) 15.47pts, 3. Pat Connell (City Beach) 15.01pts, 4. Sheldon Spencer (Mandurah) 10.90pts, 5. Leon Norris (Gerladton) 5.50pts. (Please note: Aggregate scores from two finals.) 

O55 Kahunas: 
1. Ian Darby (North Beach) 9.80pts, 2. Leon Norris (Geraldton) 5.50pts.

Justin Majeks

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