SAN CLEMENTE, California - The Quarterfinalists have been decided at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME 6.0 Lowers Pro and four ASP World Tour surfers, two locals, the defending champion and a young Hawaiian are the only competitors left standing out of the 128-man-draw that made up the prestigious event. Kai Barger (Haiku, HI), 19, reigning ASP World Junior Champion, led the top seeds in Oakley Pro Junior competition and issued the top scores of the day.
All surfers on the ASP WQS are looking to capitalize on the valuable ratings points towards qualification for the ASP World Tour, with the series top 15 competitors earning a berth on to the coveted series at year’s end. All ASP North America Pro Junior Series surfers are looking to finish within the top five in their region so they can earn their chance to compete in Narrabeen, Australia in an attempt to take the title of ASP World Junior Champion.
Dusty Payne (Lahaina, HI), 20, issued one of the day’s biggest upsets when he ousted ASP World Tour surfer and Lower Trestles local Chris Ward (San Clemente, CA), 30, from competition while earning his Quarterfinals berth. Payne needed a six-point-score to advance from his heat over Ward, and posted a 6.5 out of 10 with only 10 seconds remaining to advance.
“I try not to get nervous when I need a score because you tend to fall,” Payne said. “Plus, once you get nervous, you can’t move the way you want to move. I just try to stay positive and I know if a wave comes I know I can get it, but, yea, I’m just glad that’s over.”
The young regular-footer was elated with the heat victory over Ward, who is his biggest surfing inspiration.
“He’s my favorite surfer, period,” Payne said. “Growing up, he was always my idol and I’d watch his surfing and just try and do what he does. I’m just so happy right now.”
Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA), 27, who posted the highest heat total of the day on Wednesday, continued his tear on Trestles when he defeated ASP World Tour sophomore and aerial specialist Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 23, on the way to his Quarterfinals berth in tough afternoon conditions.
“I saw that draw coming up a while back and I knew it was either going to be C.J. (Hobgood) or Dane (Reynolds) and obviously they’re both amazing surfers,” Yeomans said. “The conditions kind of deteriorated, but you can’t count them out any time. I decided to just catch waves, build my momentum and get some scores going and it worked in my favor.”
The Lower Trestles local is putting his superior knowledge of the famed pointbreak to good use in order to gain his fare share of the ratings points on offer towards qualification for next year’s ASP World Tour. Yeomans was sitting in the No. 21 position before entering the event, and is now guaranteed a fifth place finish in the ASP 6-Star PRIME contest, which will significantly help his cause on The Grind this year.
“It’s insane that Nike 6.0 stepped up and made this contest a 6-Star PRIME,” Yeomans said. “To be at home and get that many points is great and I think this is going to be a huge confidence booster and a good one for the rest of the year.”
Fredrick Patacchia (North Shore, HI), 27, was a top performer in today’s 6.0 Lowers Pro competition and convincingly surfed his way to the Quarterfinals with two heat wins. The goofy-footer is enjoying a brief respite from ASP World Tour competition to compete amongst some old friends at the ASP 6-Star PRIME event.
“I just like surfing competitions and a lot of my friends surf in this event,” Patacchia said. “I like to come down here and hopefully draw them in a heat, because it brings us back to the old school amateur days.”
Patacchia’s Round 5 heat resembled an ASP World Tour contest when he battled fellow ASP Dream Tour surfer Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 29, in the man-on-man format. The Hawaiian continued his standout showing when he eliminated Hobgood from the event and is utilizing the tough competition at the 6.0 Lowers Pro to prepare for the ASP World Tour event held at Lower Trestles in the fall, the Hurley Pro.
“That heat was a lot of pressure,” Patacchia said. “Man-on-man builds up that pressure because you have to win. You can’t get second and the Hobgoods are great competitors and gentlemen, but it’s a good warm up for us for the World Tour contest here, the Hurley Pro.”
Barger’s opening heat of the ASP Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior explained why he’s the defending ASP World Junior Champion. The talented Hawaiian demolished a Lowers righthander on his backhand with several tail-drifting blasts to earn an amazing 9.93 out of 10. Barger followed up with an 8.73 to leave his fellow competitors in a combination situation while logging in the highest heat total of the day.
“The first thing that happened was I saw that other kid on the Hurley team (Conner Coffin) get a 7 and I got a bit freaked out,” Barger said. “I told myself I have to get the next one and not fall. I just put my head down and hit it as hard as I could and as soon as I came out of it I did it again.”
Barger is looking to have a successful campaign at the Oakley Pro Junior, especially since Lower Trestles is one of his favorite waves. The newly crowned champ is also feeling some pressure to post impressive results due to his recent success.
“I just want to do especially good at this place because it’s one of my favorite waves,” Barger said. “I felt a lot of pressure because I hadn’t made a heat out here in so long and to lose two in a row would have been terrible. I need to do better.”
Oakley Pro Junior Quarterfinalists will be the first to take to the water tomorrow at 8am. The opening heat will see Andrew Doheny (USA), Koa Smith (HAW), Kiron Jabour (HAW) and Miguel Pupo (BRA).
Oakley Pro Junior Round of 32 Results: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 3: Albee Layer (HAW) 13.50, Koa Smith (HAW) 11.60, Matt Meola (HAW) 11.50, Billy Kemper (HAW) 9.83
Heat 4: Kai Barger (HAW) 18.66, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.70, Conner Coffin (USA) 14.00, Kyle Kennelly (USA) 10.43
Heat 5: Cory Arrambide (USA) 15.40, Spencer Regan (USA) 12.83, Quinn McCrystal (USA) 12.33, Fisher Heverly (USA) 9.70
Heat 6: Chris Friend (AUS) 15.47, Victor Done (USA) 11.50, Brent Reilly (USA) 10.67, Keanu Asing (HAW) 9.80
Heat 7: Nat Young (USA) 15.66, Davey Cathels (AUS) 14.50, Dylan Goodale (HAW) 11.77, Trevor Saunders (USA) 10.43
Heat 8: Dillon Perillo (USA) 18.27, Evan Thompson (USA) 14.86, Cody Thompson (USA) 13.76, Gabe Garcia (USA) 11.60