Atkinson breaks through with win
IT was a long time coming but South Australian surfer Dion Atkinson finally broke through for his maiden ASP crown with victory at the 4-Star Burton Toyota Pro in Newcastle on Sunday.
A highly regarded surfer among his peers, Atkinson, 24, could do no better than a trio of seconds in ASP World Tour events prior to getting the better of top-32 contender Tom Whitaker.
However, the final was marred by an interference call against Whitaker in the opening minutes, which led to his second scoring ride being penalised 50% and his opening ride not scored.
Regardless, Atkinson's two scoring final rides of 6.20 and 5.83 reflected his professional, workman-like approach to winning the event, knowing that two good scores would do in the circumstances.
Final scores were 12.03 to 6.97. Atkinson was stoked to continue his flying start to the year, following a runner-up finish in Brazil last month, and to at last have his hand raised in triumph.
“So happy to finally win an event,” he said.
“I couldn't believe the early interference. It was a major error by Tom and after he interfered I realised I was in a great position to win.
“But I had to focus, calm myself down, do the job and win the final. It was nerve-wracking for a while.”
Whitaker offered no excuses for his costly blunder.
“I simply didn't see Dion there,” he said. “I should have looked harder but the wave was a good one and I was too focused on getting it and didn't realise he was there. It was that simple.
“I should have looked a lot harder.”
Equal third places were shared by Queensland pair Bede Durbidge and Lincoln Taylor.