RIYUE BAY, Wanning/Hainan Island/China (Wednesday, January 30, 2012) â€“ Caio Ibelli (BRA) has taken out the ASP 4-Star rated Hainan Classic at Riyue Bay, Hainan Island, China over Mitch Crews (AUS). The surfers battled in two foot (1 meter) long left-handers, but in the end it was Ibelli who pocketed 1000 ASP World Tour ranking's points, as well as US$15,000 prize-money and his first ASP World Tour victory.
Ibelli, the 2011 ASP World Junior Champion was by far the one standout performer of the event. He had four of the top eight wave scores of the event and four of the top five two-wave heat totals.
"I'm really happy to go and do the Australian events after this win," Ibelli said. "Mitch (Crews) is a really good surfer. He's been surfing good all week, so I'm really happy to finish first. I came a week early to get to know the waves and it definitely helped me a lot. I'm so happy!"
Ibelli almost didn't make the final, after a close call in his Semifinal against fellow Brazilian and Oakley stablemate Matheus Navarro (BRA). The pair battled hard, but it was Ibelli's last minute wave that made him progress, with the score being read out after both surfers were on the sand.
"Matheus (Navarro) is a guy I always travel with," Ibelli said. "That was a really tough heat, there wasn't a lot of waves and he is my friend. He was in first place for the whole heat, then I got a 4.60 on the last wave in the last second."
Crews, who also got 2nd place at the ISA China Cup last week, takes home his second runner-up finish in two weeks. The young surfer from the Gold Coast, Australia is happy with a consistent start to the year and is looking to keep the momentum going as the ASP World Tour heads to his hometown in Australia.
"Caio (Ibelli) got an eight point ride at the start," Crews said. "I sat and waited for a good wave for about 10 minutes, but couldn't really find one. Then he kept picking off the little runners and that was it. The conditions were deteriorating all day and there was only a few good waves in that final. I'm happy with my performance though. I had a goal before I came to China to make both of the Finals and I did. To get all the way to the final and get second is always a bummer, but Caio has been getting 9.00 point rides all week so full credit to him. The ocean was against me in that one and I'm just going to have to flair up in the next one."
Made Widiarta (IND), the last goofy-footer (right foot forward) left in the event, went down to Crews in the Semifinals. Widiarta surfed fast and progressive all event and was excited to finish equal 3rd in his first ASP World Tour event.
"I feel stoked," Widiarta said. "This is pretty much my first time in an ASP star event and to make the Semifinal is great for me. I'm so stoked. The conditions got hard out there and I saw Mitch (Crews) get a good wave, but I couldn't find one. It was still fun, I'm so happy now."
Gabe Kling (USA), former ASP World Championship Tour campaigner was eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Ibelli, finishing the event equal 5th place. Kling was on fire all event, even posting some excellent scores in his Quarterfinal loss, but he couldn't match the event's top heat total scorer Ibelli.
"It's been fun here," Kling said. "The surf was really small for the ISA event and team USA bombed out, everybody had shockers. So it feels good to make a few heats in the ASP event. I've been watching the whole event and Caio (Ibelli) was probably the guy I didn't want to draw when it went to man-on-man. Then he got me. I had a chance at the end, but then he scored a nine and that was it."
The end of the Hainan Classic brought a close to this year's Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival. ISA President Fernando Aguerre is thrilled with the success of the partnership between the ISA and the ASP for the two events.
"This has been an amazing event filled with lots of surprises," said Aguerre. "Congratulations to Caio Ibelli for his incredible performance in the long winding waves at the left point in Riyue Bay. In the name of the ISA and the over 35 million surfers in the world, I would like to thank China's National Water Sports Association, the Hainan Culture and Sports Department, the Wanning Sports Bureau, and especially our great partners, Womei Media. With all of their support, I am looking forward to coming back to Hainan, for the third time next year, for what will be a bigger and even better event."
Hainan Classic news, photos and more available via - http://hainaninternationalsurfingfestival.com
HAINAN CLASSIC QUARTERFINAL RESULTS: QF 1: Made Widiarta (IND) 15.60 def. Raditya Rondi (IND) 11.70 QF 2: Mitch Crews (AUS) 14.86 def. Deivid Silva (BRA) 14.00 QF 3: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.67 def Gabe Kling (USA) 14.17 QF 4: Matheus Navarro (BRA) 14.67 def. Cooper Chapman (AUS) 9.33