Taylor Jensen (USA) [Photocredit:Aquashot/aspeurope.com]
ANDORA, Italy (Sunday, November 20, 2011) - The ASP World Longboard Tour (WLT) Bear Pro presented by Jeep has been won by Kai Sallas (Waikiki, HAW) 30, defeating Taylor Jensen (Coronado, CA) 27, in a high-scoring final 17.17 to 13.50 in clean, small 1-2ft waves at the back up site of Andora, 180kms NW of the main event site in Levanto. Jensen's runner up finish was sufficient for the talented Californian to clinch his maiden ASP WLT World title.
Taylor Jensen after clinching the ASP WLT World title with his semi-final win over countryman Tony Silvagni (USA) was carried up the beach by his fellow competitors to celebrate his title. The natural footer had been, along with Sallas, the inform surfer of the Bear Pro presented by Jeep showing his full array of longboarding skills in the tough conditions.
"I haven't got it all in yet but I will feel pretty good tonight for sure," began Jensen. "I was stressed out. I've been stressed out all week with running or not running so we got into the event and it is a relief. In the last couple of minutes he (Silvagni) needed a 9 and the conditions were tough. I mean Kai (Sallas) got a 9.5 in the heat before but it is very hard to get one. As long as I didn't let him get a good wave I was okay. I just held on and it worked."
"Those were the most stressful last five minutes of my life," continued Jensen. "It is over now so I can sort of relax. I have been doing this since I was 17 and I've come really close before so finally to put it away is a good one for sure."
Jensen was aware of the importance of his title win on Italian soil and made special mention of the town of Levanto and to the many victims of recent flooding which had devastated the area prior to the event starting. The official handing over of the ASP WLT World Champion trophy was held in Levanto with all competitors returning to participate in the celebrations.
"Just to be in Italy is pretty amazing in itself and the first event here as well so it is insane. To be the first World champ crowned in Italy is amazing so stoked with that. It is really special to have the celebration in Levanto after all they have been through and the tragedy that they have had. To go back there is really important and to crown the champion there will be a very special moment."
Kai Sallas claimed his second ASP WLT victory with the Bear Pro presented by Jeep win and finished 2nd on the 2011 WLT rankings with a convincing performance over newly crowned WLT champion Taylor Jensen. Refocusing on the event victory when his World title hopes were dashed after the semi-finals, Sallas showed his superiority with an amazing display of technical nose rides and high speed turns in the small conditions.
"It was a final full of mixed emotions. I had a slight chance to win the title if Taylor didn't make it. I lost that opportunity right before the final so I had to shake it off and just focus on the heat. Some good waves came through and the waves stuck around the whole event. Within that half hour final I managed to get two good scores so it worked out good. It is the second WLT event I have won in my career and still no title, (laughs) but I'll keep trying. I'm super glad we got to run the contest and to come away with the win. I was stressed out if they were going to run so to win is just amazing."
The Bear Pro presented by Jeep had been riddled with nine straight lay days after a huge swell was on offer prior to the start official waiting period. Sallas was on hand to witness the quality and experience the power of waves in Levanto.
"They weren't just lay days, they were days with absolutely no surf," stated Sallas about the beginning of the waiting period. "All the 32 competitors had not surfed until yesterday. We were definitely kept busy but a lot of us were real shaky coming into this so to keep a good focus to compete was pretty hard. Here in the Mediterranean Sea a lot of people don't really think of surfing in Italy but there are some great waves here. The first days we showed up in Levanto the place is amazing. A beautiful bay and the waves were legitimate barrels. A few of us Hawaiians broke boards and it was so much fun but unfortunately it went flat. Levanto is amazing and Italy is beautiful."
Tony Silvagni (North Carolina, USA) 24, placed equal 3rd to claim his best result on the ASP WLT with an incredible quarterfinal bout taking down hot favourite and 2009 ASP WLT champion Harley Ingleby (AUS) with stylish and controlled carves and nose rides in the tricky conditions.
"This is the best I've done on the ASP World Tour and I've had an incredible year. I can't be more thrilled than coming to Italy and surfing. There have been small waves but great people, great food and this was where my grandfather was from so this is something to be proud of."
Silvagni was full of praise for close friend Taylor Jensen and mentioned the complete dominance his opponent has been displaying over recent times in the competition arena.
"Taylor is an incredible surfer and he deserves this World title. For the past year- and-a-half he has been winning almost every single contest you can imagine. I've surfed against him many times and I win a few but he's gotten me on the overhand. I am really happy for him and I wish him the best for the years to come."
Damien Castera (Anglet, FRA) 27, caused a huge upset by eliminating 2010 WLT champion Duane DeSoto (HAW) and by doing so automatically requalified for the 2012 ASP WLT tour. The talented goofy footer hooked onto a peeling right hander with a fading take-off followed by a series of classic nose rides to claim a 7.25 (out of 10) and a Round Two win.
"I am very happy at the moment. I was an alternate for this contest so I had no pressure and no stress just here to enjoy the event. Now I made it through to the quarterfinals which is great and for me it is perfect to qualify for the 2012 WLT. I have to improve my English for next year." (laughs)
Castera commented on his victory over DeSoto and highlighted his ability in small wave riding due to his home town experience in similar conditions in France.
"There were very small waves and Duane (DeSoto) is a very good surfer and in big waves he is very good. He is a big guy so I think in these kinds of conditions I had my chances and I am used to surfing these waves in France at La Cote de Basque with Antoine (Delpero) so it is perfect for these waves."
Highlights from today's action, the pre-event free surf sessions and from the previous days of the waiting period can be seen by clicking on 'videos' at www.bearpro2011.com as well as the LIVE broadcast of 'The Morning Show' each day at 9am with interviews, forecasts and all the latest news on activities at the ASP WLT Bear Pro presented by Jeep.
The ASP Bear Pro presented by Jeep ran from November 10 to 20 and will be webcast LIVE with the 'Morning Show', all results, photos and highlights seen at www.bearpro2011.com
The Bear Pro presented by Jeep is proudly produced by Reset Communications in association with Area 51, the Liguria Region, the Province of La Spezia and the town of Levanto. For further information regarding the ASP Bear Pro presented by Jeep log onto www.aspeurpe.com
Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.17 Def. Taylor Jensen (USA) 13.50
1. Taylor Jensen (USA) 1600
2. Kai Sallas (HAW) 15200
3. Duane DeSoto (HAW) 14000
4. Harley Ingleby (AUS) 11700
5. Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) 11700
6. Tony Silvagni (USA) 10500
7. Antoine Delpero (FRA) 9200
7. Amaro Matos (BRA) 9200
7. Justin Bing (ZAF) 9200
7. Edouard Delpero (FRA) 9200