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Mililani's Bacalso overcomes tough conditions


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POSTED: Monday, November 30, 2009

Gusting winds, bumpy, 8- to 12-foot wave faces and a declining swell postponed competition at the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. Contest officials called off the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing at Sunset Beach after eight heats.

Before the 6-Star Men's World Qualifying Series was put on hold, Mililani's Kekoa Bacalso won his heat and advanced to the next round of competition. Despite the challenging conditions, Bacalso—who is a rookie on the World Championship Tour and has been traversing the globe since March—was excited to be competing in familiar waters.

“;I just miss Hawaii and I just dread surfing in the cold water all year long,”; said Bacalso, the first native Hawaiian in three years to compete on the WCT. “;I like the hometown crowd, my family, my friends, and I'm in my backyard so I'm feeling good and confident.”;

Bacalso looked poised in the wind-blown waves, whacking the lip with power and supplementing his rides with high-speed cutbacks. The 24-year-old negotiated the overhead waves with ease and seemed to surf faster than the other contestants. Bacalso has been competing in this event since he was a teenager and burst onto the pro surfing scene from defeating nine-time World Champ Kelly Slater as a wild card.

“;I was just a little grom and ... I had Slater in my heat,”; said Bacalso of his monumental World Cup heat as a teen. “;I somehow had a really good heat and took down the champ. I surfed against him three other times and he smoked me all the other times, but I got one under my belt.”;

That was then and this is now. Bacalso is on the Dream Tour with Slater and dominated Nat Young, Blake Wilson and Rudy Palboom yesterday. Young advanced out of the heat behind Bacalso. While the Hawaiian's approach to Sunset was well calculated, the Californian rolled the dice.

Young, Bacalso and the rest of the men's competitors will most likely resume competition today. The O'Neill World Cup of Surfing needs a day and a half to wrap up the second jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Check www.triplecrownofsurfing.com or call (808) 596-SURF to see if the contest is on.