Maui's Larsen shines in Reef Hawaiian Pro


POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

The first day of the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Ali'i Beach Park saw incredible displays of high-performance surfing in average-sized waves. A subpar, northeast swell provided chest- to shoulder-high surf for the first jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Despite the lack of giant waves that many competitors hoped for, the level of surfing at the penultimate event of the World Qualifying Series was solid.

Leading the pack of pro surfers in the first two rounds of competition yesterday was Granger Larsen. The 19-year-old from Lahaina won his second-round heat and garnered the highest-scoring wave of the day: a 9.33 out of 10. Larsen's best ride was a top turn-snap to speed floater and with a filthy layback on the close-out section.

“;If you get the lucky one and get a little wall, you can make a score off of it,”; said Larsen. “;I did and I got a nine, so I'm pretty happy about that.”;

This is Larsen's fourth year competing in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. He is looking to make a big statement like his friend and fellow Maui boy, Dusty Payne, who finished runner-up last year at the Triple Crown.

“;The Triple Crown means a lot. If you do well here you'll be recognized a lot,”; said Larsen. “;I look at one of my best friends, Dusty Payne, and he blew up even more after that. Hopefully, I'll follow his path.”;

Another Maui boy looking to make a good impression at the most prestigious surf series in the world is Hank Gaskell. The 23-year-old from Hana won his second-round heat yesterday. Gaskell lost his sponsors earlier this year and is paying contest fees out of his own pocket. But this hardship has reinvigorated his concentration.

“;Getting dropped (from my sponsor) was a blessing in disguise. I was pretty (mad) at first, but it gave me a whole new focus,”; said Gaskell, who won the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach last month. “;I've been eating really healthy and training really hard. It paid off at Xcel, so I'm trying to stick to the same program and take it through the Triple Crown.”;

Judging by Gaskell's huge air reverse 360 in the waning moments of his round heat, the regular foot is surfing better than ever. While he is ripping at the moment, Gaskell knows that the competition is tough at the Reef Hawaiian Pro.

“;It's anybody's game when it's like this and you just gotta find the right waves,”; said Gaskell at the end of the day. “;Everybody surfs so good, so you need to just not make mistakes. Pretty much getting the best waves is the key.”;