BAKER & HENDERSON WIN SWATCH ALOHA CLASSIC
Britain's Nik Baker Beats Robby Naish In Nail Biting Final At Ho'okpia
It was a thrilling climax to the last Aloha Classic of the millennium here at Ho'okipa today with England's Nik Baker taking victory over Robby Naish and Jennifer Henderson defeating Kelly Moore in their respective finals of the men's and woman's double elimination's.
Both finals went down to the wire and were decided over two heats with Jennifer Henderson defeating Kelly Moore twice and Robby Naish taking the first final before Nik Baker held onto his nerves and came back to win the decider.
Robby Naish the 36 year old American from La Jolla California, came through the double elimination after taking an incredible string of victories over Antoine Albeau, Jason Polakow, Josh Angulo, Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Francisco Goya before finally meeting his match in the second final against Nik Baker.
Naish was literally on fire today and was scoring highly with his fluid surf style wave riding and aggressive slashing cutbacks.
It was a day of non-stop action and for the first time of the whole competition the trades really kicked in blowing anywhere between 15 and 25 knots. With the surf still pumping into Ho'okipa in the 3-5 foot range the stage was perfect for ballistic jumping and wave riding. Both Robert Teriitehau and Jason Prior pulled out double forwards in one of the early heats of the day although Prior took better wave scores and advanced. Other key heats were the defeat of Levi Siver by Jason Polakow and Matt Pritchard defeating fellow team mate Scott Fenton. In heat 63, Robby Naish who had just poured cold water on Jason Polakow's hopes of successfully defending his Aloha Classic title, came up against wild Hawaiian Josh Angulo, whilst World Champion Bjorn Dunkerbeck faced Californian sailor Matt Pritchard. The heat was critical to Dunkerbeck since he needed to advance in order to be one hundred per cent secure the World Wave Title. Pritchard fought it out tooth and nail but in the end was no match for the aggressive tactics of Dunkerbeck. Dunkerbeck sailed an incredible heat and landed several huge aerials along with a perfect wave 360. Robby Naish meanwhile defeated Angulo by the narrowest of margins and then went on to defeat his arch rival of the past, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, followed by another prestigious victory over Francisco Goya.
In the first final of the double elimination Naish once again produced the goods and ripped apart three good set waves whilst Nik Baker struggled for much of the heat to make it upwind and catch waves. Naish was eventually awarded victory meaning a second and deciding final. This time it was Nik Baker's turn to retaliate and despite only catching two waves throughout the whole duration of the sixteen minute final, Baker rode the waves in his typical vertical and powerful style. In both finals wave selection was vital and for much of the heats the two competitors played mind games with each other in a game of human chess as they tactically battled it out waiting for the set waves outside the break. Despite Robby Naish picking up four waves, the judges decision was six to one in favour of Baker's style earning the British sailor his first ever Aloha Classic Title.
In the woman's final it was heartbreak for Kelly Moore following two defeats by local wave specialist Jennifer Henderson. In both finals Kelly Moore seemed to make tactical errors and failed to score more than one big move on each wave. Meanwhile Henderson seemed to be racking up the points with several turns on each wave before setting herself up a big move on the final section. The judge's decision was unanimous in favour of Henderson, which also meant first ever victory at the Aloha Classic.
Iballa Moreno meanwhile did enough today to secure herself the Overall Woman 's Wave Title after finishing in fourth place. Moreno who needed to advance in her heat against Henderson, Collete Guadagnino and Tsugumi Takagi has stolen the overall title from her sister Daida Moreno who now finishes in second overall.
Tomorrow a super session is planned with $1000 up for grabs for the most radical manoeuvre. The closing ceremony will also be held tomorrow evening where for the twelfth year in succession the Bjorn Dunkerbeck, will be crowned world champion.
"I am absolutely stoked, I can't believe it. In the first final it was super light wind, I was hoping for it to be a bit windier. I was struggling in the light stuff and Robby was sailing really well. He had sailed so many good heats all the way through. In the end I just tried to go out there and have fun. I had a few OK waves but it was not enough.
The 1999 World Champions
This result assured Bjorn Dunkerbeck of the 1999 World Wave Championship, his first for 3 years (1996 Belbeoc'h,1997/98 Polakow) and completes a good year for Nik Baker. He finishes behind Bjorn in 2nd place. Francisco Goya, who won in Gran Canaria, finishes the year in 3rd place. This result was also enough for Bjorn to complete his 12th consequtive year as Overall World Champion.
In the Women's 1999 Wave Chmpionship the Moreno sisters take 1st and 2nd place. Daida, the big jumping sister eventually finishes the 1999 World Tour in 2nd place behind Iballa, who has sailed in her sisters shadow most of the year. Iballa really came into her form in the big powerful Maui waves. Switzerland's Karin Jaggi was 3rd, which in turn assured her of the Overall World Championship.
Text:©SSM Freesports unless credited as SSM
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