Lavernhe captures Pipeline Pro
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The celebration in Reunion Island will have to wait for seven months, but Amaury Lavernhe expects to still be smiling then.
Lavernhe won the Turbo Bodyboards Pipeline Pro yesterday, describing it as the "biggest win, by far" of his bodyboarding career.
The final day of the three-day contest was completed in challenging wave-face heights of 10 to 20 feet at the Banzai Pipeline.
"I'm in love with life right now," said Lavernhe, 24. "I've been traveling for five years now, waiting for this day."
The contest was the opening event of the International Bodyboarding Association's 2010 world tour, and many of the competitors consider it the most prestigious contest in the sport. Lavernhe is the only competitor from Reunion Island on the tour.
"Bodyboarding is pretty big in Reunion, but I am the only one traveling right now," he said. "Hopefully more guys will see this and join me on the tour."
Lavernhe prevailed in an international final. Diego Cabrera of Canary Islands was second, Jared Houston of South Africa was third, and Australia's Damian King fourth.
"I was really relaxed in that final," he said. "When we were out in the water, we all said to each other we all made it to the final, let's just enjoy the waves and see who gets the best ones."
Lavernhe got the best one, receiving a perfect 10 with around 10 minutes remaining in the 30-minute final.
On his perfect ride, he made it through a long barrel, then completed an aerial maneuver known as an air-roll-spin — or ARS in bodyboarding vernacular.
"That wave was so perfect, I didn't know what to do," he said. "I was in the pit and I knew I had to do something special."
Lavernhe's top two waves received a total score of 17.5 (out of 20). Cabrera placed second with a score of 14.65, followed by Houston's 14.2, then King's 10.75.
Lavernhe received $5,000 for the victory, and is now the No. 1-ranked bodyboarder for 2010. He is also the first bodyboarder from Reunion Island, a French Island in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar, to win the Pipeline Pro, which started in 1982.
"This will be big news there," Lavernhe said. "It's probably going to be in all the newspapers and TV back home, so I'm excited about it."
Only problem is, Lavernhe does not plan to return home until September due to his commitments on the bodyboarding world tour.
"It's expensive to fly back and forth, so I will do the other contests and then see everybody back home in September," he said.
Surprisingly, no Hawai'i bodyboarders made it past the quarterfinals.
"It shows you the level of riding around the world," said Kona's Mike Stewart, who owns a record 11 Pipeline Pro titles. "There's guys ripping all over the world, and that's what you saw today."
Stewart and Kaua'i's Jeff Hubbard were upset in the quarterfinals. Hubbard is the defending world champion, and was the No. 1 seed for the contest.
1, Amaury Lavernhe (Reunion Island), $5,000. 2, Diego Cabrera (Canary Islands), $3,100. 3, Jared Houston (South Africa), $2,000. 4, Damian King (Australia), $1,500. 5 (tie), Guilherme Tamega (Brazil) and Pierre Luis Costes (France), $1,000. 7 (tie), Brad Hughes (Australia) and Ben Player (Australia), $700. 9 (tie), Mike Stewart (Hawai'i), Jeff Hubbard (Hawai'i), Spencer Skipper (Hawai'i) and Dave Hubbard (Hawai'i), $600. 13 (tie), Eder Luciano (Brazil), Mark McCarthy (South Africa), Sacha Specker (South Africa) and Paulo Barcellos (Brazil), $400.
ASP WORLD TOUR STARTS
Maui's Dusty Payne won his opening heat in his debut as an ASP World Tour surfer yesterday.
The first round of the Quiksilver Pro was completed in tricky waves of 2 to 4 feet at Snapper Rocks, Coolangata, Australia.
Payne, who is in his rookie season, is one of five Hawai'i surfers in the contest. As a first-round winner, he advanced directly to the third round.
The other four Hawai'i surfers — Kekoa Bacalso, Roy Powers, Andy Irons and Fred Patacchia Jr. — did not win their respective first-round heats and will have to compete in the second round.
It is the first of 10 events on the 2010 world tour.