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SURFING

Two Finals in One Day for Gray

April 30, 2006|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Alex Gray competed for an hour, a marathon ending to a Saturday that included six heats and nearly three hours trolling for waves in the frigid ocean at the Body Glove Surfbout south of San Clemente.

Gray, 19, advanced to the men's and juniors' finals, a first for the up-and-coming professional surfer from Palos Verdes. Despite his busy schedule, Gray took his time leaving the water at Lower Trestles when the final horn sounded.

"Normally, I come down here and there's at least 50 to 100 guys out," he said.

"To surf six heats, with just four guys out each time, is anybody's dream come true."

Gray placed fourth in the men's final, producing a best two-wave score of 12.93. Dustin Cuizon, 21, of Hawaii (16.14) won, followed by Asher Nolan, 27, of Neptune Beach, Fla. (14.76).

About a half hour earlier, Gray finished third in the junior final, losing on an interference call in the closing minutes. Gray didn't agree with the ruling, but remained upbeat after the contest.

After finishing 104th in the World Qualifying Series standings last year, his fourth-place result pushed him up to No. 43.

"To make both finals is a feat in its own," he said. "I couldn't be any happier."

Cuizon, who lives in Ewa Beach on Oahu, was appearing in his first WQS final. He took the lead in the opening minutes after earning a wave score of 9.17 and never trailed.

Cuizon, who finished 80th in the WQS last year, moved up to No. 34.

"I've been surfing here since my amateur days, so I'm really comfortable," Cuizon said. "I just gave it my all."

Also qualifying for the four-man final was Luke Stedman of Australia, a 29-year-old in his second season on the elite World Championship Tour.

Cuizon and Gray hope to qualify for the 45-man WCT in the coming years. The top 16 in the WQS rankings at year's end automatically qualify for the WCT.

"It gave me a big boost," Cuizon said of his victory. "I could really use this result to get back up in the ratings."

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