14th January 2006
Australian Damian King relished in perfect high-performance conditions to win the Rockstar Games Pipeline Pro, presented by Mike Stewart Science Bodyboards . However, it wasn't enough for the current reigning world champ to retain his title, and second place finisher, Ben Player from Sydney's Northern Beaches took the crown in a title race that came down to the final.
Solid 4-6-foot (Hawaiian scale, or 1.5 – 2.5m) waves produced picture- perfect conditions for the final day of three at the world's most famous wave, Pipeline. The only other condender, Gold Coast's Mitch Rawlins , lost in the quarterfinals leaving Ben needing at least a second place finish to win the title. “That quarterfinal was actually the most stressful moment in the entire contest for me. Cedric Dufaure (a French rider) was having the heat of his life and I was down the entire heat. With 20 seconds to go I got my last wave thinking I'd blown it, but the scores were announced as I left the water and I just couldn't stop grinning. It made the final so much easier to deal with."
The Aussie-dominated final had its own share of controversy. Damian King and Ryan Hardy were at their best with Dufaure failing to replicate his earlier form, and a scoring error led to Player being announced the event winner also. It wasn't until after the awards ceremony that video evidence showed one of Hardy's waves had been attributed to Player in the backlit afternoon conditions.
Player finished in second, followed by another Australian, Ryan Hardy, and then France 's Cedric Dufaure. King was the two-time defending world champion prior to the event, so the Pipeline Pro victory was somewhat of a consolation.
"I knew I had no chance at the world title even if I won the contest," King said. "I kind of dealt with it (on Wednesday), so that helped me to focus just on Pipe. It was tough to take, losing the world title, but I was hoping to win Pipe to make up for it." King clinched the victory early in the 30-minute final heat when he rode through a long Backdoor Pipeline barrel. The judges rewarded him with a near-perfect 9.0 (out of 10).
King said competing in the final against friends helped him catch the high-scoring wave. "We did rock-scissors-paper before we went out to see who would get the first wave and I won," he said. "Since I had the priority I wanted to make sure it was a really good wave." It was King's second Pipeline Pro victory he also won it two years ago to clinch his first world championship. The late recount could not take away the world title from Player. The Pipeline Pro was the final event of the International Bodyboarding Association's 2005 World Tour. Player entered the event ranked No. 4, but the three competitors ranked ahead of him were eliminated by the quarterfinals. "I almost got ahead of myself, thinking if I win this competition, I can win the world title," Player said. "But then I treated every heat like a separate competition and it worked." Player had finished No. 2 in the world rankings twice before in his career.
"Two times I've got second and every time I was really (ticked) off," he said. "I was trying to bring back those memories of how I felt when the other people won, and it kind of gave me that extra drive, I suppose." King said: "I don't mind losing the world title to someone who deserves it, and Ben deserves it. He's never got it before, but he always put the effort into it." Hardy posted a perfect 10 in the semifinals, but could not find similar success in the final.
Prior to the men's final, the women's finalists from the Rockstar Games Honolua Bay Pro held an expression session giving new world champ, Australian Kira Lewellyn a chance to showcase her talent back to back with the men at the wave that is considered the benchmark of bodyboarding performance. She was joined by Japan 's Aoi Kioke , and Brazilians Linda Molina, Luzmarie Grande Perez, and Gabrielle Rodrigues.
In the Dropknee Division, Kauai's David Hubbard capped a stellar year by winning the final over South Africa 's Brandon Foster and Hawaiian Powerhouse Kainoa Mcgee , making him the Dropknee World Champion. Dave also managed to win the dropknee division and fourth overall at the Rockstar Games Honolua Bay Pro.
Special thanks to event sponsors: Rockstar Games, Mike Stewart Science Bodyboards, Bodyboardershawaii.com, Anres Hawaii, and organisers International Bodyboarding Association and the Honolulu Bodysurfing Club.
1. Damian King (Aus)
2. Ben Player (Aus)
3. Ryan Hardy (Aus)
4. Cedric Dufaure (Fra)
1. David Hubbard (USA/Hawaii)
2. Brandon Foster (Sth Africa)
3. Kainoa McGee (USA/Hawaii)
4. Bud Miyamoto (USA/Hawaii)
Click here to view the Heat Sheets
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