Hasburgh’s Dream Run in Dominican Republic Delivers Maiden WSL Win
A battle of North America’s emerging talents and event standouts provided a showdown in the Final featuring Watanabe and Hasburgh. Watanabe struck first in the but it was not a wave of scoring consequence as Hasburgh waited for his opportunity to answer holding priority. Hasburgh’s opener garnered a mid-range, 6.33 (out of a possible 10) before Watanabe was able to find a Playa Encuentro gem to unleash his backhand attack on and posted a 7.33 to overtake the lead heading into the 20-minute mark. The ocean came to life with a flurry of action and Hasburgh found his opportunity to respond back and slammed a critical section on his backhand to accrue an excellent 8.83.
However, the action wasn’t done yet and Watanabe unloaded on three major backhand attacks to garner an excellent 8.83 of his own to regain the lead from Hasburgh. Then, Hasburgh answered back immediately and posted another excellent 8.03, totaling a 16.86 (out of a possible 20) to Watanabe’s 16.33 heat total. Watanabe’s final effort in the dying moments wouldn’t provide him the score for Hasburgh to earn his maiden WSL chair-up.
“I could cry right now I’m so emotional and I just love surfing so much,” said Hasburgh. “This is what I want to do every day so this is a dream come true and just thank you so much. This place is so special and will always hold a place in my heart. Just to be here with all my friends and my family and these amazing people. This is just incredible. Taro is one of my idols. I watch him surf so much and have learned a lot and those are my goals in surfing.”
Hasburgh’s charge to the Final began with a clash against former event victor and 2023 runner-up, Manuel Selman (CHL), in the Semifinals. Selman’s unfortunate priority interference within the first five minutes of the heat set up Hasburgh to make his way into the Final. Now, Hasburgh is within striking distance of 2024 Challenger Series qualification.