Jason Shibata won his first Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) event by capturing the Sponsor Me Hawaii Ala Moana Bowls 2-Star Qualifying Series (QS) title yesterday.
said “it’s a blessing
to win at home”
The 29-year-old Shibata has been a pro for 13 years, but yesterday’s win was his first in an ASP event in Hawaii. He defeated runner-up Kai Barger of Maui, third-place finisher Pancho Sullivan, the 36-year-old veteran from Haleiwa, and the Big Island’s Casey Brown, a 22-year-old who took fourth in the final.
"It’s a blessing to win at home," said Shibata, who scored a two-wave total of 17.5 out of a possible 20 points. "It’s nice to share this with Hawaii and the world."
This event was broadcast live around the world on transworldsurf.com and locally on Oceanic Cable Channels 250 and 1250. Those watching saw Shibata rip the world-class surf at Ala Moana Bowls that saw a fresh, southwest swell offer 6-to 8-foot wave face heights.
But it was the tide that played a huge factor in the contest, according to Shibata.
"The conditions changed a lot throughout the day," said Shibata, who surfed in five heats yesterday. "In the morning the tide was really low, really tricky and really fast sections.
"Through the day, the tide picked up and just got perfect. Then the tide started to drop out and really changed the lineup."
The middle of the day was a barrel fest with Hawaii’s finest pros getting completely covered up. Going into the final at 6:10 p.m., the tide dropped, the sun began to set and the tubing waves were rare.
Shibata got the longest tube ride of the final, capping it off with a series of vertical top turns to the inside. The judges rewarded him with an 8.9 out of a possible 10.
"I was tripping because I wasn’t really in the spot," Shibata said of his barrel in the final. "I was really deep and it swung wide.
"I just paddled and Kai (Barger) was right there. I like just got in, it started off really tight and almondy and … it let me out. And from then on I had a huge smile on my face."
Shibata got that score early in the final and it wasn’t an easy task to beat the 20-year-old Barger. There would be several lead exchanges between Barger and Shibata in the final, and it came down to the last seconds of the heat.
Barger had a chance to steal the win away from Shibata with a wave and an air reverse 360 at the horn, but didn’t get the necessary score.
"I ended up getting one really good ride and was just trying to get the second one the whole time," said Barger, a former ASP World Junior champion. "While I was trying to get the second one I think I did too much scrambling catching small ones and I looked out and Jason was on all the mean, long, walled-up nuggets. So I think he did the better job in wave selection."
SPONSOR ME HAWAII
At Ala Moana Bowls
H1: Kalani Robb; Casey Brown; Alex Smith; Myles Padaca
H2: Pancho Sullivan; Solomon Ortiz; Tyler Newton; Liam McNamara
H3: Makuakai Rothman; Dustin Cuizon; Jonah Morgan; Gregg Nakamura
H4: Kai Barger; Jason Shibata; Joel Centeio; Flynn Novak
Semifinals (Top 2 advance from each heat)
H1: Casey Brown; Pancho Sullivan; Kalani Robb; Solomon Ortiz
H2: Kai Barger; Jason Shibata; Dustin Cuizon; Makuakai Rothman
1. Jason Shibata (Waipahu). 17.5 points, $5,000. 2. Kai Barger (Haiku), 15.6, $2,500. 3. Pancho Sullivan (Haleiwa), 11.25, $2,000. 4. Casey Brown (Kona), 9.2, $1,500.