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News provided by ASP World Tour on 31 May 2005

TODAY was a strange day in the life of pro surfing. After an extended analysis of the leading edge of the forecast ‘Perfect Storm’ swell, from way before dawn this morning, the Globe WCT Fiji was relocated to Tavarua’s mechanical perfection of Restaurants, the big brother break of Cloudbreak basically un-contestable with 12-15’ faces, paddling-in a mission of both chance and danger.

Organisers waited for the tide to fill for a start just before 9am. The 3-4-5’+ aquatically sculptured gaping womb of the freakish left hosted multiple nine and ten point rides throughout the day as we shovelled through the remaining round three heats, motored round four in its entirety, and then, controversially, delved into the quarterfinals. It suffered from inconsistency all day, and throughout the schedule, various competitors got skunked by major lulls. The ocean’s pattern aside, the good ones were worth waiting for, and real good.

As absolutely and inherently perfect as Restaurants was, compared to the waves of the world in what were really marginal conditions for the break, the venture into the third last stanza of the event’s structure was fraught with debate. The surfers were superb in their performance wizardry today, as always, but perhaps they lacked wisdom in consenting to going into the quarters.

The Globe WCT Fiji has been an exciting venture. A company founded in the kindred culture of skateboarding has ultimately reacted to surfing’s so-called Big Three delving into their market. As they say, it’s a free world, but after a surfing apprenticeship supporting not just the sport’s most special talents like Taj Burrow and Mark Occhilupo, Globe have more recently gathered a collectively talented and soulful team of surfers retained not just for their results but for their pure spirits and style, personally and athletically. Their approach is refreshing.

At the start of this event, undoubtedly the most intrinsically pure on tour, mates hanging, hunting and habilitating in unison, the local tribal chiefs hosted a traditional kava ceremony. In the midst of the chaste proceedings, their spiritual leader declared utterance to the effect of “…on the graves of our ancestors, we pray that Globe get better waves than Quiksilver ever did!”

The Fijian people are way beyond malice or spite. Their prayers went up wholesomely, simply wishing the best for the new sponsors of ‘their’ event – and it is their event. They are our hosts here in surfing paradise. They are esteemed hosts. Rest assured that the Foster’s Top 45 consider our Fijian brothers and sisters as the coolest, happiest, intrinsically benevolent people on this planet.

Beyond that sentiment, the Globe crew have indeed scored well, but we’ve still got three days left in the event waiting period, three days laden with forecast swell, and 11 heats today would have been sensible, as well as logical by the fact that this event has marketed to the media awaiting the swell transmitted from the ‘Perfect Storm”. The imagery is big and perfect, the best surfers in the best waves, and to go into the top end of the draw in anything less than that, with three days remaining, was an act without full consideration.

Head Judge Perry Hatchett was resolutely against going beyond the end of round four, but Kelly Slater and Dean Morrison were the only two surfers agreeing with that. Even that fact aside, if the contest director and producer truly considered the big picture they could have comfortably finalised the day’s proceedings at the end of round four with legitimacy. Despite the considered lack of foresight and overview, the day’s surfing was undeniably extraordinary, and the sport’s future freak finally emerged from his big brother’s incubation. His name is Bruce Irons.

Without doubt, the heat of round four was big brother Andy Irons, our reigning and thrice-crowned World Champion, versus last year’s rookie rabbit and younger brother Bruce. Younger brother Bruce got two 10-point rides today. If you’re reading this and not quite familiar with the enormity of that achievement, compare it to you

Bruce’s brother Andy is officially and deservedly the current chief purveyor of the suppliers of the world’s best surfing, the Top 45 of the Foster’s Men’s World Tour. That’s a fact times three. Big brother is also a world champ’ human being. Being the champ is not an easy job, and the job has turned a young Kauaian punk who surfed unbelievably in any sized stuff, into a young and admirable man who earns respect not just for his surfing and competitive savvy, but for his capably carrying the bulk of the weight of the surfing world’s image on his shoulders.

It appeared that Andy got so frustrated when he needed a perfect ten to catch his brother this morning that he inadvertently incurred an interference call…but that’s okay. He’s a human, and so, like the rest of us, he has his faults. But is it a fault? Before you judge him, ask yourself how you’d handle the inherent responsibilities and spotlight of being world champion. It’s invariably lonely at the top.

Andy’s battle with his younger brother cum nemesis Bruce, was an epic. Andy opened with a 9.17, which Bruce countered with his first ten about seven minutes later. Andy came back with a 9.67, but then Bruce smacked back with the same score line on a wave nearly ten minutes later.

Andy’s internal pressure cooker then started overheating as Bruce held priority for a prolonged period. When Bruce finally took off on a wave, Andy produced a drop-in, like ‘okay, you beat me, but **** you!’ It was brotherly love and rivalry all blended into a hot mix of emotion and performance pushing lust that the whole tour is thriving on at the moment. It’s epic stuff. About three hours later, Andy was spotted walking back to his room looking quite happy and content with a carton of Foster’s under his arm. It’s all good!

“He just hates losing – especially to his younger brother,” said Bruce struggling not to smile.

Floridian charger Cory Lopez took out Nathan Hedge in round four, obviously also holding a hatred of losing, as all winners do, but he had to take it from Bruce as well in the pair’s quarterfinal. Both Andy and Cory started their respective attempts at quelling Bruce’s run with high scores for typical barrel aplomb, but B.I wasn’t phased. He wasn’t sure which ten was sweeter.

“Maybe the second one, though I’m not sure - it’s always good to get a 10 against your brother,” said Bruce. “They were both really good because in both cases, both Andy and Cory had got big scores before me, and so the situation was that I had to get a high nine or better.”

“Andy got a 9.17 on his first wave, and Cory had a 9.6, so having to follow their nine pluses with a 10 or something in both cases, made me put my head right back in the game, confident to just go and get another one.”

Young Bruce had trouble keeping his head in the guts of his comeback on Cory, his second 10-pointer. A super long and deep run, he was messing with the intestines of the tubular beauty and it didn’t let him out easily.

”I couldn’t see in there for much of that wave. Water just kept showering over my head, “ recalled Bruce.

“I had to keep putting my head down, and then I’d look up, and my head would get knocked back down…I’d look back up, get knocked down, just barely holding the right line…tucking up, and then towards the end it started going chitty-chattery, and then my arm started wiggling and wobbling, so I stuck my front arm on the front of my board like Sunny does, and said to myself ‘I’m coming out of this – head down, any way it looks, I’m coming out!’ So, I was fully stoked”.

Bruce made what could have been a critical error at the start of his quarterfinal, letting his mate Cory take what ended up being a 9.6, but if you’re smart, there’s always a lesson to be learnt in heats. Bruce had Cory’s inside, but let him go, a mistake he won’t be repeating. Bruce’s run so far this year has obviously been a vast improvement on his scarey maiden run through 2004’s Foster’s Men’s World Tour, which saw him needing to finish third or better in the semi finals at Pipeline to make the WCT cut. It’s history now that he made the final and has now re-grouped and off and upwards towards his destiny.

“I was just real nervous most of last year. When you finally make it to the level you want to be at after all those years, and then you start blowing it, it’s like ‘I need to do good in the next one, and then now I REALLY need to do good in the next one…and before you know it, you’ve just rattled yourself to pieces,” said Bruce of the psychological doors he went through last season.

“Now I finally feel comfortable surfing with all the guys on tour. Now it just feels normal. Now I can just relax and go out there in heats and have fun. I’m just surfing and that’s not supposed to do my head in. If you do lose, you get mad a bit for a little while, but it’s all fun. We all have to remember that”.

As relaxed as ever was Master Blaster Slater, who produced a 9.7 against former event winner Mick Lowe in their heat four exchange, and then a ridiculous ten pointer to ram his case home. It wasn’t a particularly epic wave, but oh my goodness, it had to be one of the longest barrel runs out there in history.

“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God…that was a 12!” muttered Brazil’s Neco Padaratz as he watched Slater’s unbelievable brilliance waiting on the beach for a jet ski.

Neco ruled most of his following heat with Dean ‘Dingo’ Morrison, but the young Maori-Aussie from the Gold Coast was thinking until the end, brilliantly using tactics to thwart the talented Brazilian’s run. Holding priority for quite some time, with the clock clicking down, Neco must have thought he had it wrapped up, sitting outside of the calm Dingo who never stops thinking in a heat, complimenting his undoubted surfing prowess and willingness to charge anything.

With 55 seconds remaining, Morrison took off on a wave needing a 6.17, and Neco took the bait, dropping in to enforce his priority. Dingo ripped back into the take-off posse’ and took the next wave, surfed it to its max, and got a 7.5. As the third member of the so-called Coolangatta Kids, Dingo has often been considered by pundits as the poor cousin to Fanning and Parkinson, but the best wine takes time to mature, and he’s forever shaping up as a top drop.

His mate Joel Parkinson led for most of the next round four heat against Fred Patacchia Jnr., looking to have a payback in line for the young Hawaiian goofy who formerly booted both himself and Slater from the draw here as a wildcard. As happened, despite two brilliant rides from Parko, Frederick came back on one of the finest waves of the day with a 9.97. Good work kid!

Speaking of high scores, perennial front side performer CJ Hobgood caught just two waves in the opening quarterfinal against Phil Macdonald after earlier bagging three nine plus scores against Luke Egan. Macca had earlier punted his mate and current Foster’s ratings leader Trent Munro.

CJ got a 9.8 for his first wave, and then a ten for his second quarter-final run, which was actually a comparatively ordinary wave made freakish by his calm disposition and style. After a shortish pit, he found the reef sucking dry before him, a fully exposed coral head in his path. He simply took a high line and pulled back in before stitching the lip for good measure.

The rapidly draining reef, and intermittent inconsistency in the swell led to everyone finally waking up and canning proceedings after the second quarter between Bruce and Cory. If the blatant forecasts hold true, we’ll get back to business in the morning and be crowning the first ever Globe WCT Fiji victor by lunchtime. Dingo Morrison carries the Aussie flag alone in the first heat of the day, the third quarterfinal, against Slater. He’s up to the job, but Kelly will deservedly have other ideas.

The final quarter will be between South Africa’s goofy rookie Travis Logie, and fellow pro’ grommet Patacchia. Travis continued his impressive form yesterday taking Taj Burrow in one of the remaining heats of round three, and then Brazil’s forever impressive warrior Peterson Rosa in round four.

We’ll be hoping for the forecast 6-8’ Restaurants tomorrow, which if delivered as expected, must make you wonder what yesterday’s vanquished quarterfinalists Phil Macdonald and Cory Lopez will be thinking as they wing their way home. Bring on proper Restaurants! It’s what we’re here for, not a contest production line.


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