Waialua surfer Moody dominates Junior Pro
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Moody, five others earn berths at World meet in Australia
Bernie Baker photo
Mililani's Kekoa Bacalso carves across a wave en route to a second-place finish in the Billabong Ronnie Burns Memorial Junior Pro.
Bernie Baker photo
Sean Moody, a home-schooled senior from Waialua, won the contest that featured Hawai'i's top male surfers age 20 and younger.
"There's so much good competition, it definitely is an honor to come out on top," said Moody, 18.
As the winner of the contest, Moody received $1,500 and Hawai'i's top seed for the Billabong World Junior Championship, scheduled for Nov. 2-10 at Phillip Island, Australia.
Only the top six finishers from yesterday's contest earned spots in the world championship. The other five qualifiers are, in order: Kekoa Bacalso, Dustin Barca, Daniel Jones, Joel Centeio and Jordy Brough.
Moody topped the field by unleashing a relentless attack on the 1- to 3-foot waves. He dominated the final, scoring a total of 26.3 (out of 30) for his top three waves.
"I got two good ones right off the bat, so I felt pretty good from the start," he said. "Then I got another good one right at the end to back it up."
Moody's first two waves received scores of 9.3 and 7.5, forcing the other three finalists to play catch-up the rest of the way. A 10-minute lull with no waves in the middle of the 30-minute heat probably helped his cause.
"We were just messing around, singing and talking," Moody said. "We're all friends, and I think that helped us relax."
Bacalso, a sophomore at Mililani High, made a late charge at the lead, but ultimately came up four points short with a final score of 22.3. Late in the heat, Bacalso completed a difficult aerial maneuver that received a score of 8.83.
"I just wanted to go for it, trying to treat it like I was free surfing," he said. "I don't really do airs that much, but I landed it somehow."
Moody sealed the victory in the closing minutes when he paddled into a 3-foot wave and proceeded to complete six separate slashing maneuvers along the open section. The resulting score of 9.5 was the highest of the final.
"I was just relieved to make it," he said. "There were a couple times when I thought I was going to lose (my balance) but I held it."
Moody is expecting to graduate within the next two weeks, and then will begin competing on professional surfing's World Qualifying Series shortly after.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "But this is still a pretty big thing. For sure, the contest in Australia is going to be real big."
Barca, a 2000 graduate of Kapa'a High, caught the most waves in the final and placed third. Jones, a senior at Hawaiian Mission Academy, was a close fourth. Each of the four finalists had total scores of more than 20.
"Everybody was surfing good," Bacalso said. "Hopefully, we can take it to Australia."
Centeio, a senior at Campbell High, and Brough, a junior at Makua Lani High on the Big Island, were both eliminated in the semifinals, but received the final two qualifying spots for the world championship.
Waialua's Fred Patacchia Jr., who has been Hawai'i's top seed at the world junior championship the last two years, was upset in yesterday's second round.
Jamie O'Brien of Sunset Beach won $300 for completing the most radical maneuvers during a special "expression session" heat. The contest was held in honor of the late pro surfer Ronnie Burns.
1, Sean Moody, $1,500. 2, Kekoa Bacalso, $800. 3, Dustin Barca, $600. 4, Daniel Jones, $400. 5 (tie), Joel Centeio and Jordy Brough, $350. 7 (tie), Roy Powers and T.J. Barron, $300. 9 (tie), Nathan Carroll, Darieus Legg, Dustin Cuizon and Mikey Mitchell, $100. 13 (tie), Wiki Villa, Jamie O'Brien, Vinton Ciliado and Andrew Oliver.