VANS TRIPLE CROWN
Abubo gets first win in Haleiwa
After dreaming about it since she was a kid growing up nearby and 14 years of trying as a professional surfer, Megan Abubo finally earned her first pro contest victory at her home break of Haleiwa yesterday.
At the famed North Shore spot, the 29-year-old veteran, who still lives in neighboring Waialua, won the women's Reef Hawaiian Pro -- the first of three Hawaii contests that make up their Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series and represent the season's end.
"This is the best feeling in the world," said Abubo, who surfed in the Haleiwa final a handful of times before but came up short. "I've been surfing here since I was a little kid; I can still remember riding my bike here every day after school. I'm almost in disbelief."
The victory in the 6-star World Qualifying Series finale that began with 49 international competitors was not only Abubo's first at Haleiwa, but also her first in Hawaii.
Currently ranked No. 11 in the world, Abubo also earned $4,500 with the win and ensured her spot next year on the elite World Championship Tour reserved for the top 17 women's surfers in the world, without having to worry about her results in the remaining two Triple Crown events that also serve as the last women's WCT contests for the year.
Abubo won the 30-minute, four-surfer final with 12.33 (out of 20) total points for her top two waves. Defending and record seven-time world champion Layne Beachley of Australia finished second with 10.67, while Florida's Karina Petroni (5.67) took third and the Big Island's Leilani Gryde (1.47) fourth.
Though she struggled early in the decider and trailed Beachley for most of the heat, Abubo nabbed a solid set wave with about 8 minutes remaining and executed a sequence of five consecutive carving maneuvers. She received an 8.50 for the ride and, combined with an earlier 3.83, grabbed the lead from Beachley and didn't surrender it in the closing minutes.
"(Abubo) had to fight for the win and I'm extremely proud of her, even though I was hoping another wave would come in the last 5 seconds," Beachley said. "She had never won in Hawaii before, and she really needed to make the final here (to qualify again for the WCT). And she went out and stamped her authority on it."
Abubo was a standout all day in the 6- to 12-foot-face surf, winning three heats just to make the final. In her first during the morning, she tallied the only perfect 10 wave score among both the men and women pros so far in the Triple Crown and backed that up with a 9.33 score in the same heat.
"I did actually think I was going to have a great day, because for the first time all year I was taking it moment by moment. I was watching everyone else surf, and I could tell my local knowledge would pay off," Abubo said.
Defending Hawaiian Pro and overall Triple Crown champion Sofia Mulanovich of Peru lost in the semifinals. Among the other notable names to go down before the final, current world No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton of Kauai were both eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Besides completing the women's Hawaiian Pro, four third-round heats of the men's Hawaiian Pro were also run at Haleiwa yesterday. Australia's Troy Brooks -- the winner of the event in 2003 -- was among those who advanced.
Conditions permitting, the men's Hawaiian Pro could resume today. It must finish its remaining two days by Nov. 24. The next stop in the women's Triple Crown is the Roxy Pro at Sunset Beach, with a waiting period that begins Nov. 25 and runs through Dec. 6.