King conquers Pipe, but is dethroned as tour champ
Like stand-up surfers, bodyboarders have Pipe dreams too, and two of the world's best realized theirs yesterday at the Rockstar Games Pipeline Pro.
Held at the infamous Banzai Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore, Australia's Damien King won the prestigious event that was the finale of the International Bodyboarding Association's 2005 world tour.
Countryman Ben Player was crowned the new world champion with a runner-up finish.
"I'm happy with the way it went down," said the 27-year-old King, who is from Port Macquarie and had won the world championship the previous two years. "I knew even if I won the event I would have lost the (world) title. Ben was a really deserving winner."
The 2004 Pipeline Pro winner as well, King has now won this event the last two times it has run. The Pipeline Pro was not held last year for only the second time in its 25-year history, after failing to get a contest permit from the City and County of Honolulu.
"Bodyboarding is a huge sport," King added, "and it deserves a spot at the world's best wave. The sport complements the wave."
Player, also 27, was initially announced as both the winner of the Pipeline Pro and the world championship, but it was later determined that he was credited for one of the waves fellow finalist and third-place finisher Ryan Hardy actually rode.
The Sydney bodyboarder, who had twice finished as the world runner-up, still got his first world championship after the scores were adjusted, however. Player and King tied with 13.00 points (out of 20 maximum) for their top two waves in the 30-minute, four-man final, and King claimed the event win and the $3,000 first prize with the highest individual-wave score (9.00 to 7.00).
Hardy (Australia) finished with 12.50 total points, and Cedric Dufaure (France) placed fourth with 9.50.
"I tried to treat every heat of this contest as a separate competition, and not get ahead of myself, and I guessed it worked," said Player, who knew he had to win or place second at the Pipeline Pro to win the world championship. "I tried to bring back those memories of how pissed off I was when the other people won (the world championship), and I guess it kind of gave me that extra drive. I'm new to this game of world championships, so I'm going to have to get used to it and the new mind games I'll have to play."
Waves were in the 8- to 12-foot-face range yesterday, with quality lefts and rights rolling through the break. The rights, in the section known as Backdoor, appeared to have the highest scoring potential.
King picked up his 9.00 after splitting a set wave with Player (who went left) with only about 8 minutes left and successfully riding through a very deep Backdoor barrel. He combined that with a 4.00 for his winning total.
Right behind that wave, Hardy and Dufaure also split the next set wave, with Hardy getting a similarly solid Backdoor barrel ride and -- though it was initially credited to Player -- later receiving the 8.50 score he had earned for it.
Player received both of his top scores on Backdoor waves: a 6.00 for a deep barrel ride only 4 minutes into the heat, and then the 7.00 with less than a minute remaining after another barrel ride and huge inverted aerial on the closeout section at the end.
Vaj Lederer of the Big Island finished with the best result of the Hawaii competitors, bowing out in the semifinals and ending up in fifth-place.
Kauai's David Hubbard won the drop-knee portion of the competition and $1,000.