Seabass Qualifies For 2013 World Tour

Kaua’i’s Sebastian Zietz chose a terrific time for the first major win of his five-year pro surfing career – at the REEF Hawaiian Pro Nov. 24.

The win earned Zietz, of Kilauea, $40,000 in prize money and, more importantly, a qualifier’s spot on the 2013 elite ASP World Tour.

Surfing a four-foot swell at Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park on Oahu’s North Shore – in what contest organizers termed “super contestable with long, overhead waves that allowed maximum scoring potential” – Zietz bested names such as John John Florence and Sunny Garcia of Hawaii, Julian Wilson of Australia and Alejo Muniz of Brazil.

Zietz, 24, built big momentum through the final rounds and had won a good share of the 4,000-strong crowd on the beach by the time he secured a berth in the final against Florence, Patacchia and Muniz. Twenty minutes into the 35-minute finale, he had his challengers on the ropes. Florence came back with a late charge that included a near-perfect 9.2-point ride with a reverse 360 air, only to see Zietz answer back with a 9.43. Their spirited exchange of tail-throwing turns and power gouges lit up the beach. The final score line had Zietz with 17.76 points out of 20; Florence, 14.7 ($20,000); Patacchia, 13.5 ($12,000), and Muniz, 8.7 ($10,000).

“Coming into Hawaii, I was definitely feeling confident, feeling really confident in my boards,” said Zietz, whose nickname is Seabass. “And you know, I’ve had a few injuries over the years, and they’re all healed up, so I just believed in myself and I’m super stoked. I kept my head down, and whoever I drew it didn’t matter, I was just in a heat against myself.

“I feel amazing. I’m so stoked. I’ve been taking it easy lately, haven’t really been partying, but it’s gonna get loose tonight. After posting that 8, I just tried to hold off John because he’s been ripping so hard.

“Coming into it I was definitely thinking I wanted to qualify (for the 2013 tour) … I’ve never really done too well at Haleiwa, so hopefully this could be my year … I love everybody. This is amazing.”

In the semi-finals, Florence posted a win in the highest scoring heat of the event against Muniz and Australian pair Bede Durbidge and Tom Whitaker. The final score line showed 18 points for Florence; 17.7 for Muniz; 17.27 for Durbidge, and 12.17 for Tom Whitaker.

Said Florence, 20, afterward: “I’m just so happy for (Sebastian) to win, and it looks like he’s going to be on tour next year. It’s always good to have another Hawaiian on tour, especially someone like him who’s always positive and happy and making everyone laugh.”

“We waited and we scored some great waves, and it’s been an epic final day,” said Durbidge. “I just missed out on the finals. It was absolutely pumping in the semis, and John John, he’s just got something going on in the moment, as soon as he paddles out, he’s just pumping, and he’s the man to beat. Everything’s just happening for him.

“I always feel confident in Hawaii. I’ve got really good boards and I just love surfing bigger waves.”

Photos by ASP / Cestari / Kirstin