Owen Wright (Australia/NSW/Lennox Head) has won the 10th annual Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) six-star PRIME rated World Qualifying Series (WQS) Sri Lankan Airlines Pro in the Maldives.
It was a monumental high-scoring final, described by numerous ASP officials at this event as the greatest final they have ever seen, held in outstanding 4 to 5 feet (1.5m) surf at Pasta Point.
The final had everything, with both surfers forcing each other to new heights, combining superb power surfing with new age aerial moves.
The final scores saw Owen Wright on 19.23 out of a possible 20 to Pat Gudauskas (USA) on 18.93.
Wright’s second ride in the final of 9.83 was decisive, pulling two major aerial manoeuvres along with a series of fully powered on-face vertical turns.
While that wave opened up a serious lead, Gudauskas challenged hard on his second ride, driving through a series of powerful top to bottom turns but just fractionally mistimed his final floating re-entry and fell.
The wave was still awarded an outstanding 8.94. Many believed that had he landed that final turn, it would have been his second perfect 10-point ride for the event.
Wright capitalised mid-final with another outstanding 9.4 ride, again inclusive of aerial moves, and Gudauskas suddenly found himself in an unlikely combination of scores required situation.
Gudauskas, who earlier in this event had scored a perfect ten-point ride utilizing the new age rodeo clown move, refused to concede the final and began to focus on going for another perfect 10 by attempting some massive rodeo clowns (aerial 540 degree reverse flips), which he went perilously close to landing.
Inside the final five minutes, Gudauskas found his final excellent wave, unleashed three incredible top to bottom powered turns, lined up the final section, launched and landed another amazing aerial flip to take a perfect 10 points.
Still in second place and requiring a 9.24 to win, time ran out for Gudauskas and Wright was the deserving winner of this epic battle.
“That was the best final I have ever experienced “ said Wright after his win.
“I knew Pat was capable of scoring 9 to 10 point rides and before the final I knew I’d have to pull multiple aerials to win – my strategy was at least two serious aerials on the waves and a lot of powerful surfing in between the aerials and that’s exactly how it played out.”
Owen Wright is now number one rated surfer on the ASP World Qualifying Series and the exciting 19 year old has already reassessed his goals for the season.
“At the start of the year I was focusing on winning the Pro Junior season in Australia and doing a few WQS events to get the experience but now I’m definitely looking to win the WQS and qualify for the ASP World Tour,” he said.
Equal 3rd placed surfers were Brazilian 19 year old Jadson Andre and USA’s Austin Ware.
PICTURE: Winner of the SriLankan Airlines Pro, Australia’s Owen Wright gets the champagne spray from an equally delighted Pat Gudauskas (USA). Photo Dara Ahmed/ASP Australasia