2008 Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro: Final Day

Visit the official event website at www.Nike6LowersPro.com

Surf: Overhead, glassy, scrumptious.
Rounds Held: Oakley Pro Junior Round of 32 through Finals; Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro Quarters and up.
Nature’s Call: I deliver like your neighborhood Domino’s.
Predicted: 2008 will be remembered as the Year of the Seabass.

Gather ’round now, there are stories to tell. So much happened today, at the business end of two of North America’s biggest surf competitions, that it would be impossible to dump it all onto a page like some bucket of paint. Let’s instead have a look at the individual threads that ran through the contest and came together on this Saturday afternoon.

There’s the underdog story. If you didn’t know who Sebastian “Seabass” Zietz was last week, or if you thought he was some sort of “personality pro” destined to be remembered for karaoke-dance parties, then.well, nothing. Who can blame you? The kid has spent his whole life so far under the radar that it’s hard to believe he’s finally poking his head out at all. With a story that includes zero birth certificates (and hence no passport until his later teens), three thumbs, an inheritance feud and a four-year hiatus from surfing, it can’t be long before Hollywood comes knocking for the movie rights. But true to the form of mentor and fellow Kauaian late-bloomer Dustin Barca, Sebastian has decided to go ahead and blow up. A Kerr-inspired invert gave him the event’s only 10 point ride, and while he was stopped short in the WQS draw, he dominated the Pro Junior. Looking Curren-esque on long, perfect Lowers rights, Seabass laid down a heat total north of 18 to combo his fellow finalists.

Then there’s the generational story; the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro was truly an all-ages affair. Evergreen Taylor Knox made a push into the quarters; Shane Beschen, at 36, was looking faster and looser than a USC sorority girl; O’neill Team Manager/Santa Cruz statesman Kieran Horn came up a single spot short of the final (he was pipped by one of his own in Pat Gudauskas, whose performance was enough to place him atop the new ‘QS points standings). At the other end of the spectrum, 17 year old Kiron Jabour had a dream run into the semi’s of the main event; young buck Dusty Payne was nearly a double-finalist, going down on wave-count one heat early; and some other kid named Carissa made a bit of a splash when she paddled out against current and former WCT warriors in Round 5.

The comeback story – always a good one. Cory Lopez, whose triumphant return to the tour is a mere technicality by our estimation, would have had a podium finish if not for a (questionable) interference call in the semi-final; still a good result, but a premature end to the Cory Show.

Which leads quite naturally to the controversy story – Lopey stuffed Fred Patacchia on a dynamite left, so Freddy pulled back and took the next wave (murdered it, actually). But a half-hour earlier, in semi #1, Ben Bourgeois blatantly dropped in on Kiron Jabour with seconds remaining to cap a combo-situation comeback and knock the young Hawaiian into third. No triangle. In true jealous form, the crowd in the competitors’ area didn’t put up much of a fight on little Kiron’s behalf. Was it the right call? Who knows, but one thing was made clear – EVERYONE is a Benny B. fan.

Which turns out to be a good thing, ’cause Ben’s story ends on a high note. The ‘QS final was a reunion of the opening section in “Momentum: Under the Influence.” Bourgeois, Patacchia and Joel Centeio racked up monster scores on the rippable, six-foot walls (you could practically hear No Knife). Odd-man out Pat Gudauskas never really found the waves he needed. Benny – with a combination of massive floats, carves, and a patented end-section symbol crash – took the W, 1500 ratings points and ten thousand quid. An excellent final chapter, to be sure – but happily ever after wasn’t just for Wrightsville Beach today. As a consolation, the losers, the spectators, and the sunburned staff all got what they had waited a week to see – Lowers, firing, and not a colored jersey in sight. The winners got paid, the rest got some waves, your correspondent got neither (mostly got embarrassed) and the deed was done – until next year, when this contest returns as a big bad 6-Star, and we get some more stories to tell.

6.0 Nike Pro – ASP WQS 4-Star
1 – Ben Bourgeois (USA)
2 – Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
3 – Joel Centeio (HAW)
4 – Patrick Gudauskas (USA)

Semifinals: 8 surfers remaining (1st and 2nd advance)
SF 1: Joel Centeio (HAW) 16.76, Ben Bourgeois (USA) 16.00, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 15.66, Dusty Payne (HAW) 7.40
SF 2: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 17.10, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 16.47, Kieran Horn (USA) 14.67, Cory Lopez (USA) 11.87

Quarterfinals: 16 surfers remaining (1st and 2nd advance)
QF 1: Joel Centeio (HAW) 13.44, Kiron Jabour (HAW 11.27, Shaun Ward (USA) 10.50, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 9.27
QF 2: Ben Bourgeois (USA) 16.30, Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.50, Asher Nolan (USA) 14.16, Adriano De Souza (BRA) 13.70
QF 3: Cory Lopez (USA)16.44, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 16.26, Federico Pilurzu (CRI) 13.83, Chas Chidester (HAW) 12.34
QF 4: Kieran Horn (USA) 16.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.03, Taylor Knox (USA) 12.40, Jarrad Sullivan (AUS) 6.67

Visit the official event website at www.Nike6LowersPro.com