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|Jason Shibata holding his first oversized check on Hawaiian soil.|
Jason Shibata captured the Sponsor Me Hawaii Ala Moana Bowls 2-Star Qualifying Series (QS) title yesterday. The 29-year-old, Oahu native has been a professional surfer for 13 years and yesterday was the first time Shibata won an ASP event in Hawaii.
"It's a blessing to win at home," said Shibata who won the event with a two-wave total of 17.5 out of a possible 20 points. A fresh, southwest swell offered 6-to 8-foot wave face heights. According to Shibata, the tide played a huge factor in the contest.
"The conditions changed a lot throughout the day. In the morning the tide was really low, really tricky and really fast sections," he said. "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 pro surfers getting completely covered up at Ala Moana Bowls. Going into the final at 6:10 p.m., the tide dropped, the sun began setting and the tubes were seldom. Shibata got the longest tube ride of the final that he capped off with a series of vertical top turns to the inside -- judges rewarded him with an 8.9 out of a possible 10 points.
|Shibata, turning it on at Ala Mo'.|
"I was tripping because I wasn't really in the spot," said Shibata 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 Maui's Kai Barger, 20. There would be several lead exchanges between Barger and Shibata in the final and it came down to the last seconds of the heat.
"The final was sick! We had a pretty good pulse of waves for half an hour so everybody was relaxed and knew that we could all get at least two good chances to bang 'um and Shibatts just got us," said Barger who finished runner-up.
|Kai Barger was one of the in-form surfers of the event, and earned himself a second-place finish for the effort.|
Barger was in form throughout the event and had a chance to steal the win away from Shibata in the final seconds. The goofy foot punted a huge air reverse 360 after the horn, but it was a relatively small wave and didn't receive the necessary score to take the lead.
"I ended up getting one really good ride and was just trying to get the second one the whole time," said Barger who is 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."
The final was a gnarly battle between Shibata and Barger with third place finisher Pancho Sullivan doing his best to keep it close. Sullivan surfed well in the final, but couldn't complete a couple of critical rides. Fourth place finisher Casey Brown had a shocker and fell on a lot of waves despite surfing well throughout the event.
1. Jason Shibata - $5,000
2. Kai Barger - $2,500
3. Pancho Sullivan - $2,000
4. Casey Brown - $1,500