KINGSCLIFF, Australia (Sunday, March 29, 2009) – Dane Pioli (Rainbow Bay), 25, made surfing history at this year’s Hyundai Malfunction Surfing Festival by winning his third consecutive SurfTech LQS Men’s Final in one of the most exciting finals ever held at the Malfunction. Pioli came from behind like he did last year. The come-back kid who started surfing in Wollongong, but for the last four years has been residing at Rainbow Bay Coolangatta, caught a final winning wave in the dying minutes to overtake California’s Taylor Jensen in challenging 1.5 metre waves on the Kingscliff point break.
The high scoring final was a seesaw battle between Pioli and Jensen who were the form surfers of the professional division. Jensen came into the event teaming with confidence and fresh from a win at Noosa. He was definitely the man to beat after posting the only perfect 10 point ride of the competition by performing a superman air normally reserved for short boards.
The finals of the SurfTech LQS Men’s were held early Sunday (29th March) morning in the best waves possible for the worlds leading professional longboarders.
In the four men final, Pioli and Jensen opened with 7 point rides while Currumbin’s Jackson Close trailed in third with a 6.27, and Noosa’s Josh C. behind on a 6 point ride. Then Jensen went into overdrive posting the single highest score of the final, a 9.43, to take a commanding lead. Josh answered back with a 6.93 to be in contention, and then Pioli took off on his highest scoring ride a 9 pointer to be in striking range of Jensen. Close’s third ride a 6.3, and Josh’s 4.67, was not enough to take the front runners.
Then it came down to the last set with two waves and three minutes to go on the clock, Jensen took the first wave of the set but could only net a 5.9 while Pioli took the second wave of the set, which was the better wave, and went to town performing on-rail turns, vertical lip hits and needed a 7.2 to overtake Jensen. Pioli hit the lead with an 8.5 to claim his third Malfunction title.
“I let Taylor have the first one and went for the second one which turned out to be the better wave,” Pioli said. “I hit my head on the take off and couldn’t see a thing with a south easterly wind blowing into my face and I came out screaming knowing that I could do it! My legs are burning and I feel like spewing up, I’ll head up to the surf club for beers with the boys and they’ll be saying it must be my shout.”
Pioli has qualified now for the World Titles being held later this year, as well as Josh who placed third in the final. Jackson Close who finished fourth has just finished outside the top two who are to be invited to the World Titles.
A disappointed Jensen was philosophical about finishing second after looking like he had it in the bag.
“Dane is one of my best mates and I’ve had my best run in Australia to date, with a win at Noosa and now a second at Kingscliff,” Jensen said. “It’s all good and it all came down to wave ion, Dane took the better wave, which ultimately decided the outcome.”
The same fairytale finish was not to be for Tweed Heads Chelsea Williams rated ASP World No. 2 in the World Professional Longboards. The diminutive goofy-footer, who was also chasing the trifecta, lead throughout the final but in the last five minutes Byron Bay’s Tessa Davidson gained the lead with her last wave taking a big and powering a bottom turn to stay in control and earn a 7.23.
Yamba’s Nava Young, daughter of Nat Young, was always in the hunt and looking extremely stylish with shades of the old man and certainly with the trademark long legs. Nava’s highest single score was a 5.67 and she backed that up with a 5.17 but had to be content with trailing third.
Hawaii’s Crystal Dzigas was never calm with the sweepy conditions and settling in fourth position. With only one and a half minutes to go Chelsea had her last fling needing a 7.2, she came up short with a 6.1.
“It was hard to find the right waves in the stormy surf and I was lucky to make the on that big wave,” Dzigas said. “I wasn’t even thinking about Chelsea’s attempt to win her third final, I was just trying to survive and play my own game.”
Both will be aiming for a ASP World Title in France later on in the year.
Results of the finals of the SurfTech LQS Men’s:
Dane Pioli (17.67), Taylor Jensen (16.43), Josh C. (12.93), Jackson Close (12.57)
Results of the finals of the SurfTech LQS Women’s:
Tessa Davidson (13.23), Chelsea Williams (12.37), Nava Young (10.84), Crystal Dzigas (7.33)