Marred by a litany of laydays, the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa finally managed to resuscitate itself over the weekend and crowned a champion in the form of Tahiti's Michel Bourez today. Although the 2- to 3-foot swell on tap was indeed contestable--both quick rights and longer, softer lefts filtered through the lineup--it was by no means the throaty Haleiwa that we've become accustomed to in the past. Regardless of the size, Bourez has shown that he can hold his own in any condition and bested the likes of Fred Patacchia, Jeremy Flores, and Dion Atkinson in the Final.
Wrapped in muscle from head to toe, Bourez held a vice grip over his competition for the bulk of the Final and utilized his trademark forehand power turns to post a 9.44 and a 7.77 to combo the entire field. But in the dying moments of the heat, Patacchia fought back, posting a 9.23 and a 7.1 to tighten things up. In the end, Patacchia's last-minute flurry would come up just short and the Tahitian would take the victory. This wasn't Bourez's first time standing tall on the podium at Haleiwa; in 2008 the Tahitian won the contest to qualify for the World Tour.
"From the beginning, my goal was to reach the Final, so I was just stoked to be out there. To actually have won this event again and to be leading the Tripe Crown ratings feels like a dream," said Bourez. "For the past month, I've been trying to get ready for Hawaii. Haleiwa is where I qualified, so this place is very special to me and this wave reminds me a lot of my homebreak in Tahiti. The first time I won out here, I wasn't really focusing on the Triple Crown; I was just worried about qualifying. Now, I really want that Triple Crown title and can't wait for Sunset."
Despite coming up just shy of the win, Patacchia was more than content with his runner-up finish. "I've had some success out here in the past and made the finals last year. This is my homebreak and I grew up surfing this wave," said Patacchia. "I know it well and to have finished second out here and to have all of my family and friends in front of me and cheering, it just felt really good. I'm stoked."
For Jeremy Flores, who finished the event in third, Hawaii has once again proven to be kind to the Frenchman. Having won the Pipe Masters in 2010 and proven himself at Sunset, Flores will undoubtedly be a strong contender for the Triple Crown. And although he finished last in the Final, Australia's Dion Atkinson, who was the only non-World Tour surfer in the heat, inched himself even closer to qualification and will likely join the World Tour next year.
The road to the final day of competition was met with a variety of conditions. Early on the in the waiting period, a huge north swell closed out the lineup at Haleiwa, but as the swell subsided, event organizers were able to squeeze through the bulk of the event. However, as the waiting period came to a close, so did the swell. With a small swell forecasted for the day after the last day of the holding period, Triple Crown director Marty Thomas was forced to request an extra day to hold the comp, something that hasn't been done before in 31 years of Triple Crown history.
Forecasted conditions for the next leg of the Triple Crown, the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach, are looking strong and competition is expected to get underway as early as Tuesday of next week.