Veteran denies Rigby historic win
HISTORY beckoned for Gold Coaster Tom Rigby but it was Hawaiian local Jeff Hubbard who won the first leg yesterday of the IBA World Tour, the Pipeline Pro, in solid one to two-metre waves.
It was the third win at the break for Hubbard (2002, ‘06, ‘11), who earned 2000 valuable ratings points, $6000 and the lead in the 2011 world title race.
A pipe specialist and one of the greatest aerialists in the game, Hubbard, 35, produced an incredible come-from-behind effort to snatch victory from 18-year-old Rigby in the dying moments.
With seven minutes remaining in the 35-minute decider Hubbard was camped in fourth and his chances looked dashed, with debutant upstart Rigby looking to be cruising to his first tour triumph.
That was until Hubbard pulled out a near-perfect 9.75 ride out of a possible 10 with a huge air, reverse spin, followed by two rolls, to push himself into third place and in contention.
Two minutes later he was up and riding again, pulling into a deep backdoor cave before launching to the heavens to pull the ultimate Houdini act, earning a 9.5 from the judges and victory.
In doing so, the seasoned veteran dashed the hopes of Australia's hottest up-and-comer, who announced himself on the world stage with a career-changing performance on the final day.
Having qualified via the Australian series, Rigby surfed his way through nine rounds to reach his maiden grand slam final, much to the delight of the strong Aussie contingent lining the shore.
Consistently hitting big backflips over the shallow backdoor reef, Rigby was desperately unlucky not to record a historical and memorable triumph on debut, but was stoked all the same with second.
“I'm living in a dream world right now,” he said.
“I really had no expectations of making the final.
“To beat Hardy (Ryan Hardy, WA) in the quarters was awesome because he has always been a hero of mine, and Amaury (Amaury Lavernhe, REU), the world champ, it's been an amazing day.
“Congratulations to Hubb (Jeff Hubbard). I'm just stoked to be able to surf a final against all these guys. It's pretty surreal.”
In the women's division, former champion Neymara Carvalho, of Brazil, pounced on the decisive wave and snatched victory from Australia's Steph Pettersen, the title favourite.