By any standard, Keanu Asing has had a rough start to the year. Although still early in the season, the Hawaiian -- who returned to the WSL Championship Tour this season after falling off in 2017 --has had two Round Two exits so far, at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. While talent is apparent, Asing has been unable to piece together a heat win, making some question his mindset.
Those questions were put to rest today when the 24-year-old pulled out of a North Point barrel for an 8.00, taking a Round 1 heat win against heavy-hitters Matt Wilkinson and Connor O'Leary, both of whom are from Australia.
"It's tough out there," said Asing. "It's really windy. I was so deep I didn't think I was going to make it. I just went through that first section and held my ground. When I looked up I saw Strider in the channel. I was just so happy to finally get a good wave."
After working all night, the WSL crew moved the event site to North Point (from Main Break down the road), hoping for more consistent swell. Although it took a few hours to fill in (Commissioners put the event on hold until 1 pm) the heavy right-hand reef break finally delivered for Round 1. Keanu Asing, Matt Wilkinson and Connor O'Leary paddled out for the first heat of the day in heavy 8-foot-plus conditions.
"You see all these people getting good waves out here but the logistics of it and trying to get that one good one is really hard," Asing said. "This is a wave that you really have to spend a lot of time in to understand. I lost in Round 2 the last few events so I'm trying to stay positive and trust the process."
Asing's Round 1 win today could be the momentum he needs to kick start his 2018 season. Two years, ago he hadn't won a heat until France in the latter part of the season (but he won the whole event) -- which is to say that Asing is no stranger to comebacks.
"I've been having a lot ups and downs lately but there's nothing you can really do about that other than push forward. Once I get on a roll it's going to be dangerous so I just need to get on that wave. Success for me is right around the corner."
Check back for the call Saturday (local time) at 7 am AWST for a possible 7:15 am start at North Point. Watch the Margaret River Pro live daily on WSL and Facebook.