Repeat Vans Pier Classic finalist Micah Byrne (Huntington Beach, CA) scored a sensational win over fellow local Michael Hoisington (Huntington Beach, CA), prodigious junior Eric Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL) and Federico Pilurzu (Tamarindo, CRI) to claim the 2007 Vans Pier Classic presented by Jack's Surfboards Title.
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America World Qualifying Series (WQS) 2-Star event culminated a week's worth of action today that saw the men, women and junior men all lift their respective games as they charged towards the winner's dais.
Byrne, who was also moonlighting as the official webcast commentator for the Vans Pier Classic, opened the final up solid at his home break blasting away at the shifty afternoon peaks. The progressive natural-footer locked in an excellent 8.25 followed by a 5.75 to jump out to an early lead which he held onto claiming his first ASP WQS victory.
“I thought for sure that Hoisington and Pilurzu were going to get the scores they needed. Fortunately the waves went kind of bunk and I didn't need to get another solid score” – Micah Byrne
"It was a long week," Byrne said. "I'm so stoked right now – I'm really pumped. I opened up with a pretty good left. I got lucky and it had a really nice section to throw down on for an 8.25. I thought for sure that Hoisington and Pilurzu were going to get the scores they needed. Fortunately the waves went kind of bunk and I didn't need to get another solid score."
Byrne, who finished third at last season's Vans Pier Classic, was one of the favored surfers going into the event, and this year's victory was made doubly-sweet in front of the hometown crowd.
"It was my goal to finish better than I did last year and I knew that was going to be pretty hard since I finished third," Byrne said." I've got a new board sponsor in the last few weeks – Steve Boysen – and the boards have been going really well. I had a pretty bad knee injury a couple months back, but that feels a lot better now – today was actually the first day I surfed without my knee brace. I just felt really good and I'm so rapt with this win."
Eric Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, CA) surfed brilliantly all week in both the Vans Pier Classic and the Ezekiel Pro Junior. Surfing double-duty on the final day, Geiselman advanced all the way through to both finals, often surfing back-to-back-heats.
"I'm pretty exhausted," Geiselman said. "I think I ended up surfing six heats today so I'm pretty beat. Everything felt really well all event. The boards that my Dad (Orion Surfboards) has been shaping me have been going insane. I just couldn't put it together in the men's final, but I'm happy with my result and I'm looking forward to the next one."
Geiselman, who was last season's ASP North America Pro Junior Champion, scored a sensational come-from-behind victory to claim the Ezekiel Pro Junior title from fellow finalists Chris Waring (Seal Beach, CA), Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL) and Chad Compton (Ventura, CA). With less than three minutes left, Geiselman snuck in a solid righthander to steal the win away from Waring who had led all heat.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to get that score there at the end, but that wave came to me right when I needed it," Geiselman said. "I'm stoked to get back on the podium. The waves were pretty small at the last event, and I was just really happy we had waves here. I'm looking for another consistent season both at the Pro Junior and WQS level."
Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL), who finished runner-up at the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro Junior earlier this month, has taken over the ratings lead from Tommy Bursian (San Juan, PRI) in the 2007 ASP North America Pro Junior Series with his 3rd-place finish in the Ezekiel Pro Junior.
"I'm psyching – what an incredible way to start the year – two events and two finals," Beckmann said. "I've never been so consistent in my entire life. The ASP World Junior Championships are a guarantee – I definitely want to get there. I've never been to Australia and to get there on my own merit would be amazing. The next Pro Junior is in Cocoa Beach, which is another stomping ground of mine so I'm hoping for another big result."
Ornella Pellizari (Mar de Plata, ARG) caused a sensational upset in defeating in-form Americans Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), Sage Erickson (Oxnard, CA) and Christa Alves (Cocoa Beach, FL) to claim the Vans Women's Pier Classic title. Surfing without a sponsor, the 19-year old smashed the tricky afternoon righthanders to victory in her maiden ASP WQS event.
"The plan is to do some of the WQS events this season and hopefully do the whole tour next year," Pellizari said. "This is my first WQS event ever and my second ASP event. I did a Pro Junior in Florida and now this. I am so happy to win here and it is a great result and honor."
Conlogue looked the form surfer of the event, even locking in the event's only perfect 10-point ride in the Semifinals, but was unable to push past Pellizari.
"It was just difficult to find waves out there this afternoon," Conlogue said. "Everything felt pretty good – my boards and everything – but I just couldn't find the waves. Ornella surfed really well. I'm still happy with my performance, but would have liked a win."
The next event on the 2007 ASP North America Tour will be the Lost Easter Pro Junior (ASP Grade- 1) at Cocoa Beach from Apr. 6-8, 2007. Following that will be the Body Glove Surfbout at Lowers (ASP WQS 4-Star) from Apr. 24-28, 2007 featuring the Oakley Pro Junior (ASP Grade-2).
For more information, log onto www.aspnorthamerica.org or www.aspworldtour.com.