SANTA CRUZ, California (Sunday, October 26, 2008) - Mason Ho (North Shore, HI), 20, won the Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships, an ASP Grade-3 event, in four-to-six foot (2 metre) surf at Santa Cruz's coveted Steamer Lane this afternoon by posting the highest heat total of the event, a near perfect 19.10 out of a possible 20, leaving fellow finalists Jayke Sharp (Coffs Harbor, AUS), 19, Fisher Heverly (Emerald Isle, NC), 17, and Bruno Rodrigues (Huntington Beach, CA), 20, in a combination situation.
All ASP North America Pro Junior competitors have been working throughout the year to compile their best six results out of the 10 events on the series in hopes to earn a top five position overall. The top five surfers earn a berth into the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. This year's top five surfers Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA), 19, who claimed the ASP North America Pro Junior title, Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 17, Andrew Doheny (Newport Beach, CA), 15, Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL), 20, and Blake Jones (Melbourne, FL), 20, will represent North America against the world's finest junior competitors in Narrabeen, Australia, where each surfer will have a chance to claim the title of ASP World Junior Champion.
Ho proved to be the Oakley Pro Junior competitor to beat, jumping out to an early lead in the pumping Steamer Lane surf. The young Hawaiian earned the top honors with an explosive variety of manoeuvres, earning a near perfect score.
"It just feels good to know that hard work pays off," Ho said. "The reward is great and it's just cool to win one."
Ho was thrilled to claim a win in the excellent surf. Despite the cold water, Ho felt right at home at Steamer Lane, stating that the Lane reminded him of Sunset, his home break in Hawaii.
"My Uncle helped me with my heats and my board was just really good," Ho said. "My board is pretty beat up, but the waves were just so good. It kind of reminds me of my home break, Sunset. It's so sick. I'm so stoked."
Sharp proved why he is rated fourth on the ASP Australasia Pro Junior series with an impressive performance at this year's Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships. Sharp was one to watch throughout the event, but could not top the near-flawless performance displayed by Ho.
"It's good to come over here and see how I do," Sharp said. "I just got a little bit stuck out there and got caught up in the hassling and I didn't really get any good waves, but good job to Mason."
Although Sharp's result does not affect the ASP Pro Junior ratings, Sharp will surf against the top North Americans in this year's Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. The regular-footer made a visit to the states, stamping a lasting impression on his fellow competitor's minds with his performance here at Santa Cruz.
"I'm looking forward to World's," Sharp said. "I'm hoping that Mason (Ho) can qualify through Hawaii so that we can have a rematch."
Rodrigues needed to win the event in order to qualify for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, but could not advance past the amazing surfing by Ho and finished in third. Pagan, who also was a standout in the event finished in a respectable fourth place overall.
Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 20, who did not compete in the Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships, will accompany the top five ASP North America Pro Junior surfers in Narrabeen via the ASP WQS. Gudauskas was the top ASP WQS competitor of junior age from America, earning him a berth into the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships again this year.
The contest also marks the last of three events held in the Macy's California Trifecta Surf Series (an ASP North America Specialty Series), which offers an additional $10,000 prize purse to its top three finishers. Sebastian Zietz (Kilauea, HI), 20, claimed the top honors in this year's series despite his equal 25th place finish at Steamer Lane. Zietz won the Oakley Pro Junior at Lower Trestles and placed seventh at the Oakley Pro Junior in Newport Beach, which proved enough to claim the added prize purse for the junior division.
"Being down here today at the contest, I knew there was a rare chance for me to win the Trifecta," Zietz said. "Everybody who needed to win just one more heat ended up losing and I just got really lucky. I'm super stoked though, party tonight."
Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 17, pocketed second place on the Macy's CA Trifecta and Fisher Heverly snagged a third after finishing equal fifth in Santa Cruz.
This event marks the Final contest on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series and the top six surfers mentioned above will surf in January in Narrabeen, Australia against the world's best junior competitors.
ASP NORTH AMERICA PRO JUNIOR QUALIFIERS FOR BILLABONG ASP WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Men: Top 5 on ASP North America Pro Junior Series and highest-rated junior surfer on ASP WQS
1 - Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA)
2 - Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA)
3 - Andrew Doheny (Newport Beach, CA)
4 - Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL)
5 - Blake Jones (Melbourne Beach, FL)
* Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA) - highest-rated junior surfer on ASP WQS
Women: Top 2 on ASP North America Pro Junior Series
1 - Christa Alves (Cocoa Beach, FL)
2 - Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA)
Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships Results:
1 - Mason Ho (HAW) 19.10
2 - Jayke Sharp (AUS) 11.47
3 - Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 11.00
4 - Matt Pagan (USA) 6.67
Semifinals: (1st and 2nd advance)
SF 1: Mason Ho (HAW) 12.53, Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 11.83, Cody Thompson (USA) 9.33, Luke Davis (USA) 7.77
SF 2: Jayke Sharp (AUS) 13.84, Matt Pagan (USA) 9.93, Fisher Heverly (USA) 7.03, Austin Smith-Ford (USA) 5.87
Quarterfinals: (1st and 2nd advance)
QF 3: Austin Smith-Ford (USA) 10.94, Fisher Heverly (USA) 9.50, Nat Young (USA) 9.47, Gabe Garcia (USA) 8.73
QF 4: Jayke Sharp (AUS) 16.37, Matt Pagan (USA) 10.84, Heath Joske (USA) 10.70, Michael Dunphy (USA) 6.17
Macy's CA Trifecta Oakley Pro Junior Results
1 - Sebastian Zietz (Kilauea, HI)
2 - Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA)
3 - Fisher Heverly (Emerald Isle, NC)