When the competition closed and the six contestants were assembled in the awards area, no one could be sure who had won, but no one doubted that it would be a Hawaiian. Hemmings read the finish aloud: sixth, Booby Jones; fifth, Sam Hawk; fourth, Peter Townend; third, Clyde Aikau (some groans); second, Jeff Hakman. Pandemonium. Reno Abellira's pretty wife slipped into the enclosure to cover him with hugs and kisses and the Smirnoff man stepped forward with a check for $5,000.
Had the winner ever ridden bigger waves? Reno flashed an incandescent smile. "No," he said, "not bigger than those." How had he felt out there? "I was scared."
Is Abellira the best wave rider on earth? That is hardly in doubt now, for it was, indeed, the biggest, toughest sea ever surfed in competition. Said the veteran contestant Craig (Owl) Chapman: "If you took all the waves surfed competitively in California for 20 years and on the East Coast for five, they wouldn't add up to what you saw today."