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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Valiere barrels to first pro win

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Evan Valiere

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Don't worry, about a thing,

'Cause every little thing, gonna be all right

Inspired by Bob Marley lyrics running through his mind, Evan Valiere from Kaua'i came up more than all right yesterday.

Valiere won the 23rd annual Xcel Pro Presented by No Fear men's surfing contest yesterday at Sunset Beach. The final day of the three-day contest was completed in 4- to 6-foot waves.

"I had a Bob Marley concert going on in my head out there," Valiere said. "It was a good vibe."

It was the first professional contest victory for Valiere, 22. Last year, Maui's Ian Walsh also made the Xcel Pro his first career victory.

Many other previous winners of the Xcel Pro won it at a young age, and then went on to become successful professionals, including Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Pancho Sullivan and Fred Patacchia Jr.

"It absolutely changes my career, that's for sure," said Valiere, who is from Kalihiwai, Kaua'i. "The list of people for this event as past winners is really amazing."

Hawai'i-based surfers have now won the Xcel Pro in 22 of its 23 years of running.

Valiere won yesterday's four-man final with an impressive barrel ride in the closing minutes. He trailed for most of the 30-minute heat, but took the lead with under five minutes remaining when he positioned into the barreling wave and made it out successfully.

The judges rewarded him with a score of 8.83 (out of 10).

"I didn't know what it was going to do, but I just tried to hang high (on the wave) when I was dropping and kind of shoot it," Valiere said of his clinching wave.

Valiere's two-wave score of 15.83 was enough to earn the $10,000 first-place check.

The money was well-earned, as Valiere had to advance through three heats just to reach the final yesterday. The fourth round, quarterfinals, semifinals and final were all run yesterday.

"The heats came up quicker and quicker, so you don't really get to sit down and watch (the waves)," Valiere said. "You just had to stay focused the whole time and relax."

The laid-back and soft-spoken Valiere declined all interview requests until after he won the final. All of the other heat winners were interviewed throughout the day for a future television broadcast of the contest.

"Didn't want to blow the chi," he said.

In any case, the victory could be considered somewhat of an upset since Valiere rarely surfs at Sunset Beach, and does not travel full-time to compete in contests around the world.

"This past week or so, I felt really incredible about what I've been doing at home, my lifestyle," he said. "Just goes to show me that I'm on the right track."

Valiere said yesterday's victory may make him decide to enter more events on the 2007 World Qualifying Series. The Xcel Pro was part of the 2006 World Qualifying Series.

Gavin Beschen of Sunset Beach led for most of the final, but had to settle for second place. Beschen, who won the Xcel Pro in 2001, finished with a two-wave score of 15.5.

He also eliminated his older brother, Shane, in the semifinals.

Valiere's victory overshadowed a surprising performance by Tahiti's Michel Bourez, who finished in third place.

Bourez, 20, dominated his earlier heats, and nearly became the first international surfer to win the Xcel Pro.

With 10 minutes remaining in the final, Bourez received a near-perfect score of 9.93 for a brief barrel ride followed by a series of precise carving maneuvers.

"I couldn't hear what was going on out there, but one of my friends told me I got a 9.9," Bourez said. "I only needed a 6 after that, so I was trying to be patient and wait for a good one. But there were no good waves after that."

Bourez finished with a two-wave score of 13.33.

Makua Rothman of O'ahu's North Shore placed fourth with a two-wave score of 13.23. Rothman won his quarterfinal and semifinal heats with last-minute waves, but could not find a winning wave in the final.

Myles Padaca of O'ahu's North Shore received a perfect 10 for a long barrel ride in the quarterfinals. However, he was eliminated in the semifinals.

Walsh, last year's Xcel Pro winner, was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

The Xcel Pro is considered the kick-off event for the famous North Shore surfing season.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is scheduled to begin next week. The first event of the Triple Crown is the Op Pro Hawai'i at Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach.


1, Evan Valiere (Hawai'i), $10,000. 2, Gavin Beschen (Hawai'i), $5,000. 3, Michel Bourez (Tahiti), $3,000. 4, Makua Rothman (Hawai'i), $2,400. 5 (tie), Jordy Smith (South Africa) and Myles Padaca (Hawai'i), $2,000. 7 (tie), Shane Beschen (California) and T.J. Barron (Hawai'i), $1,700. 9 (tie), Daniel Ross (Australia), Jamie O'Brien (Hawai'i), Ian Walsh (Hawai'i) and Kahea Hart (Hawai'i), $1,500. 13 (tie), Love Hodel (Hawai'i), Josh Dowthwaite (Australia), Hank Gaskell (Hawai'i) and Jarrad Sullivan (Australia), $1,300.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.