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Patrick Gudauskas Takes ASP Lead
Sunny skies and clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves pulsed into Florida’s Sebastian Inlet for the final day of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star event, and the two San Clemente surfers went head-to-head in front of a packed crowd in the Final.
With the lead flip-flopping throughout the man-on-man heat, the powerful Gudauskas (who missed the end of the 2007 season due to injury) sealed the deal with an 8.50 out of a possible 10 for a series of blistering forehand hacks executed with unparalleled speed.
“I’ve been training really hard to get back to form, and to start out the season with a win is just sensational,” Gudauskas said. “I’m really at a loss for words. I knew that if I could stick to my game plan, I would have a shot. I felt like I was building momentum throughout the day and I knew I would have a hard task against Mike (Losness). Fortunately for me, that right wedged up perfectly and I could crack it.”
Gudauskas, who narrowly missed qualifying for the elite ASP World Tour in 2006, is now the ratings leader on the ASP WQS. The prodigious natural-footer and will look at the season ahead to pursue his aspirations of qualifying for the Dream Tour.
“It’s a long season, but I’m really pumped up and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year,” Gudauskas said. “I’ll be training really hard before heading to Brazil for my next event and I’m hoping to keep the momentum up. A win at an ASP WQS 5-Star is the ideal way to start the season, and I’m hoping to collect a few more wins along the way.”
Losness, who is renowned for his incredible freesurfing abilities, put his talents to good use today, taking down the Spaniard Gony Zubizareta and local favorite Asher Nolan (Jacksonville Beach, FL) en route to his finals berth. Although leading for a portion of the heat, Losness was unable to deliver an answer to Gudauskas’ 8.50, and finishes a respectable runner-up.
“This is definitely one of my best results of my career,” Losness said. “I was unlucky not to find the better waves during the final, but congratulations to Pat. He won the event even with an injured leg and not many guys can say they’ve done that. Stoked with my result though and the next stop for me will probably be Brazil.”
Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA) proved one of the form surfers of the event, taking out Ben Bourgeois (Wrightsville Beach, NC) and Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA) with massive buzzer-beater aerials before going down to an on-fire Gudauskas in their Semifinal bout. The progressive natural-footer, back this season after being injured in 2007, still takes home a 3rd-place finish and valuable ratings points.
“Starting the year off with a 3rd place finish at an ASP WQS 5-Star isn’t bad,” Curran said. “I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the waves there at the end, but it’s still a good start for me. Last year was a bit of a bummer as I was injured and missed most of the season, but I’m back and feeling healthy and hoping for a good run this year. I’ve been training really hard and next stop is Brazil so I hope I can keep it up.”
Sterling Spencer (Pensacola, FL) was another standout aerialist on the final day of competition, dispatching of both Shea and Cory Lopez (Indian Rocks Beach, FL) before coming up short against Losness. Spencer collects an equal 3rd-place finish, valuable ratings points and loads of confidence going into the 2008 ASP WQS season.
“I’m super stoked with my finish here at Sebastian,” Spencer said. “I was able to get some good waves and really take control against both the Lopez brothers earlier today, and it was just unfortunate that I couldn’t get waves in the Semifinal.”
“Still though, a 3rd place finish gives me a huge boost of confidence and I’m pretty pumped to do some more comps now. Next up for me is the Pipe event and I’m pumped for that one.”
Highlight clips from the O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon will be available at www.GO211.com.
The next event on the ASP WQS will be the ASP WQS 3-Star Monster Energy Pro at Pipeline from January 27 through February 6, 2008.
The next stop on the 2008 ASP North America Men’s Tour will be the Vans Pier Classic presented by Jacks Surfboards from March 26-30, 2008.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org. RESULTS: O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon (ASP WQS 5-Star) Round 6: 16 surfers remaining (1st advances to Quarterfinals) Heat 1: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.33 def. Dylan Graves (PRI) 5.30 Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.34 def. Jason Collins (USA) 13.50 Heat 3: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 13.17 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.50 Heat 4: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 13.16 def. Ben Bourgeois (USA) 12.33 Heat 5: Sterling Spencer (USA) 14.10 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 12.04 Heat 6: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.67 def. T.J. Barron (HAW) 11.56 Heat 7: Mike Losness (USA) 11.26 def. Gony Zubizareta (ESP) 9.84 Heat 8: Asher Nolan (USA) 16.50 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.00 Quarterfinals: 8 surfers remaining (1st advances to Semifinals) QF 1: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.50 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.23 QF 2: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 11.76 def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.74 QF 3: Sterling Spencer (USA) 15.96 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 13.87 QF 4: Mike Losness (USA) 11.26 def. Asher Nolan (USA) 10.44 Semifinals: 4 surfers remaining (1st advances to Final) SF 1: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.10 def. Nathaniel Curran (USA) 14.23 SF 2: Mike Losness (USA) 12.00 def. Sterling Spencer (USA) 8.00 Final: 1 – Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.73 2 – Mike Losness (USA) 12.17