Owen Wright (Australia) has won the 10th annual Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME SriLankan Airlines Pro in the Maldives.
It was a monumental, high-scoring Final, described by numerous ASP officials at this event as the greatest Final they have ever seen.
This Final had everything with both surfers forcing each other to new heights, combining superb power surfing with new age aerial moves.
The final scores saw Owen Wright on 19.23 out of a possible 20 to Gudauskas on 18.93.
Wright's second ride in the final of 9.83 was decisive, pulling two major aerial manuevers along with a series of fully-powered on-face vertical turns.
While that wave opened up a serious lead, Gudauskas challenged hard on his second ride, driving through a series of powerful top-to-bottom turns, but just fractionally mistimed his final floating re entry and fell. The wave was still awarded an outstanding 8.94, many believed had he landed that final turn it would have been his second perfect 10 point ride for the event.
Wright capitalised mid-Final with another outstanding 9.40 ride, again inclusive of aerial moves and Gudauskas suddenly found himself in a combination situation.
Gudauskas, who earlier in this event had scored a perfect 10-point ride utilizing the new age rodeo clown move, refused to concede the Final and began to focus on going for another perfect 10 by attempting some massive rodeo clowns which he went perilously close to landing.
Inside the final five minutes, Gudauskas found his final excellent wave, unleashed three incredible top-to-bottom powered turns, lined up the final section, launched and landed another amazing aerial flip to take a perfect 10 points.
Still in second place and requiring a 9.24 to win, time ran out for Gudauskas and Wright was the deserving winner of this epic battle.
"That was the best Final I have ever experienced,” Wight said. "I knew Pat was capable of scoring 9-to-10 point rides, and before the Final, I knew I'd have to pull multiple aerials to win – my strategy was at least two serious aerials on the waves and a lot of powerful surfing in between the aerials and that's exactly how it played out."
Owen Wright is now the No. 1-rated surfer on the ASP WQS and the exciting 19-year-old has already reassessed his goals for the season.
"At the start of the year, I was focusing on winning the ASP Pro Junior season in Australia and doing a few ASP WQS events to get the experience but now I'm definitely looking to win the ASP WQS and qualify for the ASP World Tour," Wright said.
ASP World Tour head judge Perry Hatchet firmly placed this Final within the top five Finals he had ever witnessed while many others said it the best final they had witnessed.
The entire event, which created history earlier when Pat Gudauskas delivered the first competitive rodeo clown manuever, appears to have sped up the aerial assault that surfing is taking.
Pat Gudauskas' efforts both in the Final and throughout the event left the 23-year-old feeling good after his narrow defeat in the Final.
"You know, I feel like I've won the event even though I lost,” Gudauskas said. “It was just such an amazing event and incredible Final to surf in and I'm really stoked to have pulled those aerials. I think surfing's heading to exciting places with these moves and I'm fully pumped for the rest of the year."
In a significant rule implementation, the Final was actually restarted after the first 10 minutes saw both surfers without a score on the board. This recent rule had just been passed by the ASP and it was successful at its first go.
"The 10 minute restart rule set that Final up and made it an incredible even,t" commented ASP World Tour Head Judge Perry Hatchett.
Equal 3rd placed surfers today were Brazilian 19-year-old Jadson Andre and USA's Austin Ware.
Andre went down in his Semifinal to Gudauskas but again demonstrated his incredible aerial assault, fighting back from a massive combination scoring situation in the Semifinal using his trademark massive aerial reverses.
The 3rd place result for Andre further consolidates his season on the ASP WQS. Andre is now rated 4th on the season ASP WQS ratings.
At season's end the top 15 surfers on the ASP WQS will qualify for the elite ASP World Tour and Andre is superbly placed.
For Austin Ware, his 3rd place finish was his best result of the season and also has him right in contention on the WQS at this half way point to the season.