US surfer captures Mr Price Pro Ballito
13 July 2011
Twenty-five-year old Californian Patrick Gudauskas joined his brother Tanner as a Mr Price Pro Ballito champion when he lifted the title at Durban's Surfers Beach on the weekend to earn his first ASP Prime title.
Just two years after his brother Tanner won the South African event in 2009, Gudauskas stamped the family name on the 2011 edition of the Mr Price Pro Ballito by defeating John John Florence by 11.84 to 8.03 (out of 20.00) in the final.
The victory saw him rocket from world number 27 to world number 15 on the ASP World Rankings.
'The best event!'
"This is crazy! I'm so psyched right now," Gudauskas said afterwards. "This is definitely the best event I've ever competed in and maybe the best one I've ever watched. It has been flawless for a whole week and we're all psyched to be in Ballito."
Stringing together a powerful combination of lip bashes and critical floaters on the tapering Ballito walls, Gudauskas took the lead with a 7.17 (out of ten) before landing a massive air-drop floater to seal his victory off just a 4.67.
"I just got lucky in the final," Gudauskas said, "John John was the man to beat at this event and it was a tough heat. I went for turns while he was looking for barrels and I think he would have 'smoked' me, had he found one!"
Gudauskas's achievement is one for the record books, with the Gudauskas brothers becoming the second pair of siblings to win the Mr Price Pro; the Irons brothers, the late three-times ASP world champion Andy and Bruce were winners in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
"It's crazy, people were asking me about that all week and I knew it would be a difficult task to defend Tanner's title," Gudauskas said. "Somehow I pulled it off and the fact that Andy and Bruce did it makes it even more special."
Florence proved a crowd favourite as the standout barrel rider of the event. Netting the day's highest heat score a 19.40 (out of 20.00) for a pair of cavernous 'Backdoor' style barrels during the quarterfinals, Florence stormed into the final where unfortunately the barrels dried up, ending the young Hawaiian's hopes of lifting this year's trophy.
'It was a lot of fun'
"It was really hard, the wind came up and I was tired, but I'm really stoked for Pat," Florence said. "This morning was so fun, the waves were perfect and clean and there were a lot of barrels. I just kept getting lucky and getting into the good ones. It was a lot of fun."
Florence's top performance comes just weeks after he captured third place at the ASP Prime in Portugal and sees the youngster move up to world number 39.
"I've had a great run lately and I'll be looking to do a few more contests and hopefully get a few more results," he said.
Defending champion South African Jordy Smith reached the semifinals and placed equal third to improve his world ranking from fifth to second.
'Still a great result'
"It was a bunch of fun, but it's just a pity there weren't any waves in that heat,” Smith said of his narrow semi-final loss. "You win some and you lose some and it's still a great result that I will be looking to take into the next event in Jeffreys Bay."
Suffering one of the slower heats of the day, Smith waited for the set waves and was quickly out-scored by Gudauskas. The American got to work further down the line, slotting into barrel after barrel, to take the lead with 5.23 and 6.33 rides.
With less than three minutes remaining, Smith had no choice but to take off on a smaller right-hander, working it for all it was worth to post a 6.33. Falling just short of the required score, the timer blew over for South Africa’s 2011 Mr Price Pro title hopes.
Australia Julian Wilson showed great consistency and added an equal third to his recent ASP Prime victory in Portugal to rise to number 16 in the rankings.
Wilson was narrowly defeated by Florence in their semifinal decider during which Florence shot into a fantastic 8.33 barrel to take an early lead. Wilson clawed his way back with fast, on-the-lip maneuvers, which saw him come ever so close to taking the lead until Florence shut him down with only a 2.87 off the final wave, to advance into the final.
"I'm definitely happy with my result," Wilson said. "That little bit of wind came up and it was hard to come out of the barrel. John John was by far the standout of this whole contest and that was pretty much like surfing a final. He's the one to beat at this event for sure and I hope he goes all the way."
Brazillian Jesse Mendes posted the only perfect-10 ride of the final day during his quarterfinal clash against Smith. The Brazilian talent disappeared into a dredging Ballito cavern for several seconds, but without a second high scoring ride was relegated to an equal fifth place finish.
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