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DeSoto gets it done at home

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COURTESY ROBERT SHADLEY
Duane DeSoto captured his first ASP World Longboard Championship at Makaha Beach yesterday.

Surfing in front of family and friends at a spot where he first learned how to surf, Duane DeSoto captured his first ASP World Longboard Championship by winning the Oxbow Wavesliders yesterday at Makaha Beach.

"It feels insane, for sure, because I’ve been trying for 18 years now," said DeSoto, 33, about his pursuit of a world title. "I started when I was 16 and I’m just so incredibly happy to be here, and you know what? It can’t even get better because it’s here at Makaha Beach, where I grew up my whole life."

DeSoto posted a two-wave total of 14.97 out of a possible 20 points at his home break to beat France’s Antoine Delpero, who earned a 13.53. Both surfers negotiated the tricky, right-breaking waves with poise and power, using a combination of nose rides on the first section and a series of cutbacks and off the lips into the shore. DeSoto took the lead in the first half of the heat and never looked back.

"I was thinking in the final — with Antoine as consistent as he is and how well he was surfing Makaha — I gotta turn it on again," said DeSoto, who beat two-time World Longboard Champ Bonga Perkins in the semifinal.

Delpero, 25, surfed well, beating three-time ASP World Longboard Champion Rusty Keaulana in the semifinal.

"It’s always a challenge, but it’s more of challenge against you," Delpero said about surfing against Keaulana and DeSoto, who are arguably two of the best longboarders to ever come out of Makaha.

"You have to take the time to get the good waves, don’t stress and just relax. I think I did a good job and I’m happy about that," Delpero said.

The offshore winds groomed the 6- to 10-foot wave face heights, and provided an ideal canvas for the world’s best longboarders to express their styles of surfing. The stiff breezes also added a degree of difficulty for the lighter competitors such as Delpero.

"The thing is when you’re a light boy like me, with all this cross-swell wind, it was very hard to turn and very hard to stay on the wave," Delpero said.

He had a chance to steal the lead from DeSoto in the last minutes of the final, but was blown off the back of the wave when he went for a noseride off the takeoff, and couldn’t find a good ride from there.

"(Yesterday) was all-time Makaha," said DeSoto of the conditions for the event.

It was a storybook ending for Oxbow and DeSoto yesterday. DeSoto has been sponsored by Oxbow for 17 years. DeSoto believes his victory was willed by Makaha Beach herself.

"Everything lined up beautifully," said DeSoto, of the omens that he observed during the Oxbow Wavesliders.

"I saw the most beautiful rainbow out on the ocean (yesterday), I saw the most beautiful clouds get formed on the mountains (Wednesday) morning. There were so many beautiful signs coming up … I was just embracing them and staying focused ’til I finished the last heat."

 

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