Phil MacDonald Wins ASP WQS 6-Star Buondi Billabong Pro in Portugal
Phillip MacDonald (Sydney, AUS), 29, claimed the ASP WQS 6-Star Buondi Billabong Pro today in tricky two foot waves at the event’s back-up venue of Piedra Blanca clinching 2500 ratings’ points after defeating Patrick Gudauskas (Ca, USA) in a nerve testing final where ten waves only were surfed. MacDonald, who jumps from No. 31 to 14 on the ASP WQS international ratings, will now be looking forward to requalifying for the ASP World Tour.
MacDonald, a renowned big wave surfer, impressed today in the small conditions defeating Brett Simpson (USA), Che Stang (USA) and Eneko Acero (EUK) to make the final, before securing his first main WQS victory against new ratings’ No. 4 Gudauskas.
"I placed 2nd many times in my career but to eventually win a big event is just amazing," MacDonald said. "It was one of the smallest contests in a long time but a win is always a win and I am stoked I finally got the boys to hold me up in the air and get that feeling at last. It was a tough contest, kind of nerving testing with the tricky waves all weekend."
MacDonald, who ended up winning with a 14.50 point heat score (out of a possible 20), got the better waves in the 30-minute final posting an 8.00 point ride halfway through the battle before using his priority over Gudauskas to get away with the title.
"I could have surfed better but there was not a lot of options out there and I just got that good wave," MacDonald said. "I manged to get a few turns together for this 8.00 point score and in these conditions I knew there would not be many more good enough waves."
MacDonald, who got back on the WQS after failing to requalify through the ASP World Tour last year, had a slow start since the WQS got underway in January but now stands with two serious results in a row – an equal 9th in Hossegor and a 1st here – and is in position for a possible requalification.
"I was not really into it when the year started and I did not want to put any pressure on myself," MacDonald said. "With these two good results I guess I will start thinking of the possibility to make it back on the Dream Tour but I would need a couple of big scores still. I will see how things go."
Gudauskas, the Buondi Billabong Pro Portugal runner-up, went through several tough heats as well today defeating the event’s high scorer Heitor Alves (BRA) in Semifinal No. 1 before failing in the final. Gudauskas, who brought solid surfing on his backhand at Pedra Blanca, got a promissing 7.00 point ride right at the beginning of the duel but was not able to get any good enough back-up score.
"I was so excited to make another final after the one in Florida in January but the waves were tricky and it was not an easy heat," Gudauskas said. "Phil (Macdonald) got that one excellent wave and with inconsistency of the swell there was not much I could do. I am still stoked."
Gudauskas, who won valuable 2188 ratings’ points for his 2nd place finish, leaves Portugal ranked No. 4 on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) and has got one step closer to a 2009 ASP World Tour inception.
"I have had a great year so far and this result will hopefully get me closer to the ASP World Tour," Gudauskas said. "I am looking forward to the next event because it can be pretty consistent and I love surfing big waves in general. I cannot wait to get through all this and make it to Hawaii where I love to surf. It will a close finish but I am defintely ready for it."
Europe had one representative in the final four of the ASP WQS 6-Star event with experienced competitor Eneko Acero (EUK) placing equal 3rd after losing to MacDonald in a close heat by a mere 0.07 difference. Acero, who had not made the finals of a main events in year, came up with great on-the-rail surfing and good tactics to advance through to the semifinals defeating rench surfer and favorite Tim Boal (FRA) in the Quarterfinals.
"The conditions were very hard to surf and I tried hard but someone has to win and this time it was not me," Acero said. "I haven’t been in the Semifinals of a 6-Star event for years and it will be a great confidence boost for the next events."
Acero, a longtime ASP WQS Top 50 member, will be looking forward to Pantin where he has had several excellent runs in the past ten years.
"I won the event several times in Pantin and I am stoked to head there with that result unde rmy belt," Acero said. "What Europeans are currently achieving on tour is just great and to see Aritz (Aranburu) among the ASP Top 45 is a great motivation. It took time but it seems like we are definitely there and ready."
Placing equal 5th in the event were Patrick Beven (FRA), Tim Boal (FRA) and outsiders Che Stang (USA) and Wiggoly Dantas (BRA). Boal, who jumps from No. 8 to 5 after his result at Ericeira, now stand as Europe’s and France’s best chance towards the ASP World Tour.
Patrick Beven (FRA), longtime WQS Top 50 competitor and a leader in the European contigent, lost to Gudauskas in Quarterfinal No. 1. Beven, who had defeated light weight athlete and current ASP WQS No. 10 Pedro Henrique (BRA) earlier in the day, could not find any good potential wave and leaves Portugal with 1625 points.
"I have had a tough year so far and I am slowly coming back and getting the feeling right," Beven said. "I did good at the beginning of the leg in Newquay and this second result is definitely big for my confidence. I was close to getting through that one so I am disappointed but I will take it for sure."
Beven, who had a strong finish last year with a win the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime event in the Canary Islands, will be looking forward to the next events he will attend confidently.
"I felt at home here staying with Tiago (Pires) and his family here and this week was great for my confidence," Beven said. "We have been helping eachother a lot and Tiago gave me some advice to deal with the waves and the peak here. It took me to the Quarterfinals so I am pretty happy."
The ASP caravan will now move to the ASP WQS 5-Star event at Pantin in Spain and 156 surfers including all top finishers of the Buondi Billabong Pro will attend the competition for valuable points on offer.