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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 8, 2004

Patacchia perseveres at Xcel

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The big North Shore waves never showed up, so Hale'iwa's Fred Patacchia Jr. rode a big wave of confidence instead to win the 21st annual Xcel Pro presented by Sobe/No Fear.

Fred Patacchia Jr. of Hale'iwa relied on patient wave selection to win the Xcel Pro at Sunset Beach for the second time in three years.

Bernie Baker • Special to The Advertiser

The final day of the three-day contest was completed yesterday in 4- to 6-foot waves at Sunset Beach. The Xcel Pro is considered the kickoff event for the North Shore surfing season.

Patacchia proved his worth as one of Hawai'i's most promising young surfers by winning the Xcel Pro for the second time in three years.

"I'm just feeling really good about my surfing right now," said Patacchia, 22.

Patacchia has spent most of this year traveling around the globe on pro surfing's World Qualifying Series (WQS). He was at a contest in Brazil last week, and almost missed the start of the Xcel Pro.

He came back in time, but was placed on the alternate list because of his late entry. As a result, he won the event the hard way, advancing through seven heats over the course of three days.

Had he entered the Xcel Pro earlier, he would have received a better seed and a bye through the first day of competition.

Fred Patacchia Jr.
"I didn't have to do this event, but it's the Xcel Pro; it's right in my backyard," he said. "It gives me a chance to surf against a lot of the local guys who are the best surfers out here."

Based on his recent results, Patacchia can now be considered one of the elite North Shore surfers as well. He also won the Xcel Pro in 2002, and placed second last year.

Waves were not quite up to epic Sunset Beach standards yesterday, but Patacchia still managed to post decent scores. In the four-man final, his two best waves received scores of 8.0 and 5.83 for a total of 13.83.

"I've been working on wave selection," he said. "These days, you only need two waves for your score, so you have more time to utilize for wave selection."

Patacchia received $7,000 for the victory and even more confidence for the upcoming Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

Brian Pacheco of Makaha was a close second with a two-wave total of 13.70. He said he also tried to wait for the bigger and better waves, but the conditions were inconsistent during the final.

"We had 40 minutes to get two good waves, so I figured that was lots of time," said Pacheco, 28. "But it never came. It was a little frustrating at the end, but I kept telling myself that I at least made the final."

Maui's Ian Walsh found inspiration through the recent death of a surfing friend, and placed third.

Walsh dedicated his performance to fellow Maui surfer Steve Cooney, who was killed in a car accident Thursday.

"It pretty much gut-punched all of us who surf with him," said Walsh, 21. "I really wanted to do good for him."

Kaua'i's Dustin Barca placed fourth to complete an all-Hawai'i final.

Professional rookie Ned Snow won the Lei Lei's Longboard Expression Session, edging former world longboard champion Bonga Perkins.

The first jewel of the Triple Crown of Surfing, the Vans Hawaiian Pro, is scheduled to begin this weekend at Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach.

Final results

1, Fred Patacchia Jr. (Hawai'i), $7,000. 2, Brian Pacheco (Hawai'i), $3,500. 3, Ian Walsh (Hawai'i), $2,500. 4, Dustin Barca (Hawai'i), $2,000. 5 (tie), Ross Williams (Hawai'i) and Matt Thompson (Australia), $1,500. 7 (tie), Jack Perry (Australia) and Jamie Sterling (Hawai'i), $1,000. 9 (tie), Joel Centeio (Hawai'i), Jesse Merle-Jones (Hawai'i), Mikey Bruneau (Hawai'i) and Evan Valiere (Hawai'i), $900. 13 (tie), Gavin Beschen (Hawai'i), Kevin Olsen (South Africa), Tommy O'Brien (Florida) and Jason Shibata (Hawai'i), $800.

Irons another step closer to championship

Kaua'i's Andy Irons advanced to the third round of the Nova Schin Festival yesterday.

Irons defeated Brazil's Ricardo Ortiz in the second round, which was completed in 4- to 6-foot waves at Imbituba, Brazil.

Irons is on the verge of clinching his third consecutive world title. Australia's Joel Parkinson is the only surfer with a shot at catching Irons this year.

Parkinson also advanced to the third round, but must still win the contest to prevent Irons from clinching the title this week.

Hawai'i surfers Bruce Irons and Kalani Robb also advanced to the third round.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8101.