PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad/El Salvador (Sunday, July 8, 2012) ? Hank Gaskell (HAW), 26, has won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 3-Star Copa Quiksilver El Salvador, defeating fellow Maui native Dege O?Connell (HAW), 22, in firing four-to-six foot (1.5 metre) waves at El Salvador?s pristine pointbreak of Punta Roca.
Gaskell peaked in the Final, earning the highest single-wave score of Copa Quiksilver El Salvador competition, 9.33 out of 10, due to an array of power carves, hacks and a frontside air. The Hana surfer found an additional set wave shortly after, taking a 6.50 on his backup ride to solidify the victory over his fellow islander.
?That was exciting,? Gaskell said. ?It was so much fun out there and I couldn?t have pictured a better final, surfing with one of my best friends. Dege killed that one wave and luckily for me it wasn?t as nice as the one that I had. I?m so happy, I don?t know what to say, the waves are just pumping right now. I felt really shaky in my heats this morning and relaxed after Semifinal and felt really good. I had a really good board and thanks to everyone who supported me.?
Dege O?Connell continued to rely on his impressive forheand power surfing while advancing to his first career ASP men?s final, but was unable to find the waves needed to Gaskell in the Final and finished runner-up.
?I couldn?t feel better,? O?Connell said. ?This is the first final I?ve ever made in a men?s event and it?s at a perfect poitnbreak. The wave suits my surfing and I?m staying with my best friends. We?ve been psyching, surfing early and getting familiar with the wave on every tide and I guess it paid off.?
O?Connell was elated with his entire experience at El Salvador and sharing the final with a friend offered the ideal finish.
?This is one of the sickest pointbreaks I?ve ever surfed,? O?Connell said. ?When you?re on the right wave, you just connect the dots. It?s hard to get scores, the judges are being conservative and I think it?s good. The waves are amazing, the people are nice and I?m surfing perfect waves with my friends.?
Shane Beschen (San Clemente, CA), 40, former standout on the ASP WCT, matched his performance from 2011 with an equal 3rd place finish. The veteran campaigner looked sharp throughout the entirety of competition, but was unable to surpass Gaskell in their Semifinals match up.
Miguel Tudela (PER), 17, was a prime example of the next level of talent emerging from Latin America. The Peruvian upstart consistently put together standout performances in each round, but fell just short of a final berth in a close loss to O?Connell in the Semifinal.