Dion Atkinson (South Australia/Seaford) won the Association of Surfing Professionals 4 - Star rated Burton Toyota Pro defeating Tom Whitaker in a controversial final that was marred by an interference call against Whitaker in the opening minutes.
"I simply didn't see Dion there, I should have looked harder but the wave was a good one and I was too focused on getting the wave and didn't realize he was there - it was that simple - I should have looked a lot harder" said Whitaker after the final.
Despite the interference, it was a worthy maiden ASP win for 24 year-old Atkinson who prior to today's final had placed 2nd in three ASP World Tour events.
"So happy to finally win an event" said Atkinson whose year is off to a flying start following a second placing in Brazil last month.
"I couldn't believe the early interference, it was a major error by Tom and after he interfered I realized I was in a great position to win but I had to focus, calm myself down and do the job and win the final - it was nerve-wracking for a while!"
Final scores in the final for each top two scoring rides saw Atkinson on 12.03 to Whitaker on 6.97 noting that Whitaker's second scoring ride was penalized 50% and his opening ride was not scored.
Atkinson's two scoring final rides of 6.20 and 5.83 reflected his professional workman like approach to winning the event knowing that two good scores would do in the circumstances.
The number one seed Taj Burrow sent controversy through the event during his quarter final when he was eliminated due to a priority paddling interference which saw him penalized by losing his second scoring ride and handed the heat to Lincoln Taylor. Burrow was in front before his indiscretion and held the heats top scoring ride of a 7.83 and looked safe.
However, he failed to check the priority disk late in the heat after paddling for a wave which saw him lose priority.
"I thought I still had priority, sure I paddled for a wave but I didn't feel I committed to it, I heard no announcement that I'd lost priority so I took the next wave - I wish the announcer had have told me the priority situation but that didn't happen and I blew the heat" said Burrow who will now head for a refreshing training trip to Fiji before heading back to Margaret River for the upcoming Prime rated Telstra Drug Aware Pro in Western Australia in just on two weeks time.
Equal third places were shared by Queensland pair Bede Durbidge and Lincoln Taylor. Both semi finals were extremely one-sided and Durbidge and Taylor required combination of scores against Atkinson and Whitaker respectively.
"I had a shocker" said Durbidge. "The waves went really strange and I couldn't find even one decent score let alone two - that happens sometimes so I'll just get back and prepare for Margaret River in a fortnight."
Most of the field at this event now head to New Zealand for the O'Neill Cold Water Classic which begins next Wednesday at Gisborne on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.
Burton Toyota Pro Results:
Final - 1st - Dion Atkinson 12.03, 2nd Tom Whitaker (6.97)
Semi Final 1 - 1st Tom Whitaker 15.00(AUS), 2nd Lincoln Taylor 9.27 (AUS)
Semi Final 2 - 1st Dion Atkinson 12.66 (AUS), Bede Durbidge 5.94 (AUS)