ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONAL SURFING PUERTO RICO (APSPR)
Event #3 on the APSPR “Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit” competition season.
Storybook ending for Corona surfing at Middles
If you saw a Hollywood movie about a surf contest, the winner of the event would find a perfect barrel with thirty seconds left in the Final, travel for several meters behind the curtain and emerge with the highest score of the entire event. Today, in the real-life setting of Puerto Rico, that is exactly what happened to young Hawaiian Kekoa Bacalso. With time running out, and only having a slim lead over his Floridian opponent Gabe Kling, Bacalso pulled into a beautiful six-foot wave and secured a score of 9.67, just short of a perfect 10.0. In addition to the drama, Bacalso’s heroic effort earned him a paycheck of $10,000, the largest ever awarded in the ten-year history of the APSPR (Asociacion de Profesional Surfing de Puerto Rico).
With the welcome addition of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company as a co-sponsor of pro surfing, the total prize purse eclipsed all previous events on the island. “This was, by far, the best event we have ever had”, said APSPR President Werner Vega. “We had the most competitors, the most prize money, as well as fantastic waves”. Ironically, this was the first event that did not see a local Puerto Rican surfer in the Men’s Final. While some local fans may have been disappointed, most insiders saw it as a breakthrough. “It shows the prestige that our Puerto Rican circuit has attained”, continued Vega. “While our top pros like Brian Toth and Dylan Graves have been traveling the international tour for years, now the best surfers from the Mainland, Hawaii and elsewhere are coming to compete on their shores”. Indeed, Toth, Graves, Bacalso and Kling are all currently ranked in the Top 100 of the ASP men’s World ratings.
The Puerto Rican surfers were still well represented, as Jobos veteran Wilfredo “Control” Deliz advanced to the man-on-man semi-finals, only to fall to the eventual winner, Bacalso. For his part, Bacalso said that his victory meant more than a welcome paycheck. “This is my first trip to Puerto Rico”, said Kekoa. “I’m impressed by the surf as well as the friendliness of the people. This really is the Hawaii of the Atlantic”!
On the “Mujeres” side of the program, Amy Nicholl, from Florida won her second consecutive Corona Extra final, following her previous victory at Domes in March. Her heat was a close one over Liza Caban, of Aguadilla, who had been the in-form competitor of that division. Caban won the $1000 Coppertone “Best Performance” award for her score of 7.57 in the semi-finals, but could not find the right waves in the Final. Nicholl’s victory had some bittersweet emotion attached, as she is from New Smyrna Beach, Florida where a tragic surfing accident this past August claimed the life of a revered surfer who was well known to many Puerto Ricans. “Fico” Fernandez was the High School mathematics instructor of a generation of students, including Nicholl. His favorite surfing destination was Puerto Rico, where his ashes will be spread at Jobo’s Beach, according to his stated wishes. In equal third place in the Women’s division were Jasset Umbel, from the Mainland and Alexis Engstrom, from
1st: Kekoa Bacalso, Hawaii – $10,000
2nd: Gabe Kling, Florida – $4,500
=3rd: Wilfredo Deliz – Puerto Rico – $2,000
=3rd: Asher Nol;an – Florida – $2,000
1st; Amy Nicholl, Florida – $5,000
2nd: Liza Caban, Puerto Rico – $2,000
=3rd:Jasset Umbel, Florida – $1,000
=3rd: Alexis Engstrom, Hawaii – $1,000
The winners of the $1000 Coppertone “Best Performance” Awards were:
Kekoa Bacalso and Liza Caban
The 2011 Champions of the APSPR Corona Extra Cicuit are:
Brian Toth and Liselie Gonzales
Our generous sponsors are: Corona Extra, Corona Light, Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Coppertone Sport, Wapa TV, Hang Loose Surf Shop, Werner Vega Surfboards, Alfa Rock, n-punto, Jose Cuervo, and El Nuevo Día