Aside from being an extremely entertaining 90s movie featuring Gary Busey and Thomas Ian Nichols, the title Rookie of the Year represents a prestigious honor bestowed upon the ASP World Tour’s top freshmen, and often provides an accurate indicator of future success. Two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning was the 2002 ASP World Tour Rookie of the Year and three-time ASP Women’s World Champion Steph Gilmore claimed the honor (along with a world title) in 2007.
Bacalso finished the year rated #18, with his best result coming at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (5th), along with three ninth place finishes .
“I’m super stoked to win this award,” Bacalso said. “My main goal coming into this season was to finish within the Top 27, so to claim the Rookie of the Year award is a bonus and I wasn’t expecting it. Freddy P (Fredrick Patacchia) was giving me a hard time throughout the year because he and Andy (Irons) won it when they were rookies and now I guess it’s Dusty’s (Payne) turn.”
While Bacalso was both modest and realistic in his goal-setting for 2009 (“I just want to requalify in 2010,” he told SURFER at the year’s outset), Kekoa has raised the bar for himself in 2010, which, he says, entails shedding some weight.
“My goal is to finish within the Top 16,” Bacalso said. “I’m going to take it one step at a time, but I’ve realized I’ve got to step it up and be on top of my ball game. I’m hoping to lose a few pounds for next year and try to motivate myself to train. It should be a great year with five Hawaiians on tour and all of the new guys like the Gudangs (Gudauskas brothers). I’m looking forward to it.”
While Bacalso’s rookie performance stood above his counterparts, Coco Ho’s surprising dominance on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour made her a clear favorite for Women’s Rookie of the Year. In her rookie campaign, Ho won the 2009 Rip Curl Women’s Pro Search Portugal and registered 3rd place finishes at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and MovistarPeru Classic, finishing 4th in the final World Tour standings.
“This is the best award to win,” Ho said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s great to have won it with five really strong rookies on Tour last year. They pushed me really hard and the Rookie of the Year award means a lot to me.”