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No place like home for Lau


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POSTED: Monday, June 08, 2009

Ezekiel Lau earned $600 and a trip to France by winning the Quiksilver King of the Groms surf contest at his home break yesterday. Kewalo Basin served up 6- to 8-foot wave face heights for the young competitors and Lau excelled in the stellar surf.

This victory was especially sweet for the 15-year-old Kamehameha student because it's been a long time since Lau won a contest at his local spot.

“;It feels good to finally win because I haven't won over here in forever,”; Lau said. “;Although there were a lot of little kids in my heat it still felt good.”;

Lau was the oldest finalist, as he surfed against middle-school students Ian Gentil, Luke Hitchcock and Josh Moniz. Hitchcock was runner-up, Moniz captured third place and Gentil finished in fourth. Despite his age advantage and local knowledge, Lau still had to work for this victory.

The 20-minute final heat began slowly, with one big set and a long lull in between. While the adolescent finalists caught smaller inside waves, Lau waited out the back for the bigger ones. His winning wave was a clean barrel followed by a big hacking turn on the closeout section.

“;The whole heat was going slow and I caught a couple just to feel it out, but I knew I needed a bomb,”; Lau said. “;I just waited for the one and pulled in like I've been doing all day.”;

The barreling right breaking waves at Kewalos suited Lau's powerful, high-performance surfing well at the King Groms contest. Although he launched a bunch of airs and laid down countless big turns, it was his tube riding that allowed Lau to win six heats and $600 yesterday.

While the cash is nice—Lau will use it to go shoe shopping—the best prize is being invited to compete at the Quiksilver King of the Groms Championship in Hossegor, France. This international amateur event is held in conjunction with the Quiksiler Pro World Tour event in September and Lau is looking forward to it already.

“;I've been to France once for the King of the Groms trials and that contest is like a little (pro event) for kids like us,”; Lau said. “;It's so much fun: man-on-man heats, 25 minutes and it's some of the best waves in the world.”;

There was only a short time for Lau, his family and friends to celebrate because he is competing at the 1-Star Junior Pro today at Kewalo Basin. Wave face heights are forecast to remain the same size as yesterday, which means Lau has the potential to pull off back-to-back wins at his home break.