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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 8, 2001

Padaca rides local knowledge to title

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

At the start of the Rip Curl Cup, all the talk focused on the world tour rankings.

In the end, the only ranking that mattered was Myles Padaca's place in North Shore surfing lore.

Proving that rankings mean very little when it comes to Hawai'i's powerful waves, Padaca won the Rip Curl Cup yesterday.

The unranked Padaca knocked off several of the world's top-ranked surfers en route to the $30,000 first prize. The contest, which was part of surfing's World Championship Tour, was completed in 8- to 12-foot waves at Sunset Beach.

"This is the greatest moment of my professional surfing career," said Padaca, 30. "It feels like a dream."

From the start, he proved to be a nightmare matchup for his opponents.

For starters, Padaca resides on O'ahu's North Shore, and Sunset Beach is one of his favorite spots.

"Just knowing this wave really helps out a lot," Padaca said. "I've put in a lot of time here; it's one of my favorite waves in the world."

Because Padaca does not compete on the world tour, he had to enter a trials event just to qualify for the Rip Curl Cup. He won the trials, but that was only the start of his run.

One by one, six of the world's top-ranked surfers were eliminated by Padaca.

In the first round last week, he defeated No. 21 Joel Parkinson. In the second round on Thursday, he eliminated No. 1 C.J. Hobgood. Yesterday, he took out, in order, No. 14 Trent Munro, No. 28 Renan Rocha, No. 5 Kalani Robb and No. 8 Michael Lowe.

"When the tour comes to Hawai'i, the locals have shown that they can stand out and come out on top," Padaca said. "It feels good to be part of that."

In the one-on-one final, Padaca defeated Lowe, 18.0-15.5.

"It was really weird to surf out at Sunset with only one other guy," he said. "There's so much space, you look at the waves and wonder, 'is this the one?' "

He chose the right one late in the heat, capping his victory with a double-barrel ride on an 8-foot wave.

"I knew Myles smoked me," said Lowe, who is from Australia. "I saw him get that really good tube ride, and I knew I lost right there."

Lowe surfed brilliantly in the quarterfinals and semifinals, but surprisingly wiped out on three of his waves in the final.

"That's surfing," he reasoned. "You can have the best thing happen to you in one heat, then have the worst thing happen in your next one."

As proof of his fondness for Sunset Beach, Padaca skipped the traditional sponsor acknowledgements on the victory stand, and instead told the crowd: "Don't forget to pick up your rubbish. I surf here all the time and I want to keep this beach looking clean and nice."

In an all-Hawai'i semifinal, Padaca edged Robb, 18.4-17.0

By placing third in the contest, Robb finished the 2001 world tour ranked No. 5 — the highest among Hawai'i surfers.

"I wanted to win this contest, so that's all I had on my mind," Robb said. "This was only half a year, so it's hard to know what to say about the rankings."

The contest was the final stop on the 2001 world tour. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, three contests were canceled in Europe. The final standings were based on five events.

Despite being eliminated by Padaca, Hobgood clinched the world championship on Thursday.

The Rip Curl Cup was also the second jewel in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing — a series of three contests on O'ahu's North Shore. With yesterday's victory and a third-place finish at the G-Shock Hawaiian Pro at Hale'iwa Alli'i Beach last month, Padaca leads the Triple Crown standings.

The third jewel, the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, will begin its holding period today at Ehukai Beach.

Rip Curl Cup

1, Myles Padaca (Hawai'i), $30,000. 2, Michael Lowe (Australia), $16,000. 3 (tie), Kalani Robb (Hawai'i) and Peterson Rosa (Brazil), $10,000. 5 (tie), Ben Bourgeois (North Carolina), Renan Rocha (Brazil), Mick Fanning (Australia), Shane Beschen (California), $8,000. 9 (tie), Jake Paterson (Australia), Daniel Wills (Australia), Fabio Gouveia (Brazil), Trent Munro (Australia), Damien Hobgood (Florida), Luke Egan (Australia), Richard Lovett (Australia), Russell Winter (Great Britain), $5,000.

World Championship Tour

2001 final ratings

1, C.J. Hobgood (Florida), 3,094 points. 2, Mark Occhilupo (Australia), 2,816. 3, Cory Lopez (Florida), 2,780. 4, Taylor Knox (California), 2,744. 5 (tie), Jake Paterson (Australia) and Kalani Robb (Hawai'i), 2,688. 7, Peterson Rosa (Brazil), 2,566. 8, Michael Lowe (Australia), 2,520. 9, Daniel Wills (Australia), 2,512. 10 (tie), Damien Hobgood (Florida) and Andy Irons (Hawai'i), 2,436. 12, Shane Powell (Australia), 2,424. 13, Sunny Garcia (Hawai'i), 2,422. 14, Trent Munro (Australia), 2,368. 15 (tie), Shea Lopez (Florida) and Richard Lovett (Australia), 2,292.