It's been said that a good surfer is a patient surfer. And Haleiwa's Joel Centeio, the boy with the grin permanently plastered across his face, had been waiting two-and-a-half decades, three months, and a handful of days for this very moment. For longer than he could recall, he'd seen other surfers relishing victories at the Triple Crown opener. Sunny Garcia. Roy Powers. Michel Bourez. But now it was his turn. Standing affront an army of shakas and a battalion of friends shrieking his name, Joel Centeio's dreams of winning Haleiwa were finally realized. He had won the Reef Hawaiian Pro.
Half an hour earlier and the final of the event was far from decided. The day prior, a 10-foot northwest flushed through the North Shore, giving the Triple Crown their first glimpse of legit Hawaiian conditions. But today, with the pudgy remnants of swell lingering in the lineup, finding the right sets proved to be a mission in and of itself. To win became a game of patience.
Surfing against the likes of Jay Thompson, CJ Hobgood, and Alain Riou, Joel managed to keep his composure throughout the wave-starved final, opting to sit out the back and wait for the inconsistent, open-mouthed sets. And in the waning minutes of the heat, with it all on the line and needing a solid score to win the event, Joel found his wave—a double-overhead runner that pitted him into the toilet bowl section. A 9.3. He'd found his win on that wave and knew it.
“All day I was just trying to be patient. There were tough competitors all day and I knew if I was patient and my positioning was correct I would get the good sets. If I got all the good sets then I would make it out of all my heats," said Centeio. "In the final I was going for first place and I wasn’t going for anything else. There were some lulls and I just sat out the back. I was 50 yards away from those guys. I was praying for a set. Then that set came. I got that shack then heard all the friends and family cheering for me. When I came out of that barrel it was the best feeling ever and I had to throw the claim…"
Despite his heralded run to the podium, Centeio wsn’t the day’s only honoree. Australia's Jay Thompson and California’s Nathan Yeomans, two talented surfers trying desperately to qualify for the 2010 ASP World Tour, secured their spots on “The Dream Tour.”
For much of the year, Thompson has been competing as an injury wildcard on the CT as well as doing the WQS full time, keeping up an astounding pace in both circuits. But with his appearance in the main event today, Thompson can now rest easy as he's crossed the 12,000-point threshold and bound for the 2010 World Tour.
"I'm so stoked, mate. This takes so much pressure off of me going over for the rest of the winter now that I've qualified," said Thompson. "I think I'm gonna have to go out and celebrate this one with my fiance in Waikiki and a whole lot of Mai Tais."
Stay tuned to Surfermag.com as the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, Sunset Beach, is right around the corner.