COMPETITORS BATTLE TOUGH CONDITIONS FOR QUIKSILVER PRO JAPAN ROUND THREE
News provided by ASP World Tour on 4 September 2005
With the swell from Super Typhoon Nabi peaking at two to three metres (6 -10 feet), conditions were testing today for round three of the Quiksilver Pro Japan with some competitors comparing the washing machine-like conditions to the challenging surf they contend with in Hawaii.
Battling their way through the current-affected ocean, the fitness of surfers was seriously tested as they paddled and duckdived continuously underneath waves throughout the 30 minute heats of the seventh event on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour. It was almost “luck of the draw” as to who progressed through.
Looking strong despite the unpredictable scenario were current tour ratings frontrunners Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW), Mick Fanning (AUS) and Trent Munro (AUS), who all dominated their heats to power through to round four. Plus there was a host of standouts including Australians Toby Martin, Phil MacDonald, Mark Occhilupo and Troy Brooks and Brazilian Paulo Moura.
“The conditions are pretty challenging,” said six-time world champion Slater who currently sits at number one this year. “And I wouldn’t have been opposed to the organisers calling it off, or at least maybe waiting for the tide to come in a bit.”
Despite the difficulty in securing quality waves, Slater boosted one the largest aerial manoeuvres seen in the event so far. From there he had control of the heat against local Masato Watanabe, scoring 15.34 out of 20 versus 7.93, and he will now face “the Raging Bull” Mark Occhilupo in round four in what will be an epic showdown. Slater was showing some signs of precaution.
“I think it’s reminiscent of a final we had together in 1997 at Tokoshima but that was in about half a foot waves,” Slater said. “It’s potentially Occ’s last year on tour so it will be nice to have a few good heats with him. Occy was devastating in Jeffreys a month ago. I’d say that it was one of, if not the best, backside performances ever. It was flawless surfing. It’s a right out here at Malibu and I’d almost rather face Occy in a left, but out here it’s a little mushy and unpredictable so we’ll just have to see how we go.”
Occhilupo defeated fellow Australian Richie Lovett in heat seven after coming from behind when he totally blasted a smaller wave in the last few minutes. He was also looking forward to his next matchup with Slater.
“In that heat the conditions were so tough,” said Occhilupo. “Richie was surfing really good and was locking in a couple of high sixes and I ended up needing a high score. I looked at the heavens and was just going ‘come on!’ and then one came in and Richie let it go. It was heaven sent as it doubled up and turned out to be one of the better waves of the day. But that’s done now. The next heat with Kelly should be big, hey?”
Andy Irons meanwhile was nervous going into heat eight against Californian whizkid Dane Reynolds. Twelve months ago, Reynolds put a dent in Irons’ world title campaign by defeating him at Trestles in the USA. But with a bit of focus, Irons fairly easily cast Reynolds aside this time and he is looking strong going into the “business end” of the Quiksilver Pro Japan.
“I was really nervous out there,” said Irons. “I thought it could turn into Trestles all over again. It was anyone’s game and I was just trying to play it smart. It’s a lot like Haleiwa – actually really similar in the way it breaks and similar to the way you get caught inside – so I was a bit familiar with it but it was still really tiring.”
Irons, however, was hoping that the swell doesn’t get any bigger. Not expecting such large waves he brought over a stack of boards more suited to smaller conditions.
“The comp’s coming together well with a killer swell here at Malibu which is probably the best spot on the coast,” he said. “I’ve only got one 6’2” board and I was hoping that I don’t buckle it or break it out there because the rest of them are suited to smaller waves and are in the 6’0” range.”
Perhaps becoming a possible thorn in the side of those at the top of the ratings, Australian Toby Martin was elated after toppling reigning event champion and 2001 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion, CJ Hobgood.
After suffering serious injuries earlier this year to his ankle and knee, which saw Martin miss events in Fiji and Reunion Island, he is now hoping to put all the bad luck behind him and make an impact through the second half of the tour. He even overcame a broken board in the opening minutes of the heat to forge on to victory today.
“I couldn’t really sleep last night as I was thinking about this heat,” said Martin. “It’s been a pretty tough year for me but I now want to prove my worth. It’s all about the main game and big heats like that last one against CJ. It’s all about showing the boys on tour that I’m up to the task of competing on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour.”
Martin will now face in-form Bruce Irons (HAW) who recently had a win in a second tier World Qualifying Series event in Durban, South Africa.
“Bruce is on bit of a roll at the moment,” Martin continued. “But I’ll take a lot of confidence away from beating CJ. I broke my board out there within the first five minutes so to come away with a win after all the elements were working against me … well I’m pretty happy.”
Brazilian Paulo Moura was also standing tall today after he stole a win from ratings number eight, Cory Lopez. Moura, who currently sits at 31 on the ratings, was over the moon. He claims it was his tactics that carried him over the line.
“In those hard conditions out there I’m very happy to come away with a win,” said Moura. “The swell seemed to pick up fast in my heat but I concentrated on getting two good waves. I managed to get one big score then I grabbed priority and took the win. There was a lot of paddling and there were non-stop waves and we had to be on the ball when choosing the right spot to sit in the lineup.”
Going to press Taj Burrow (AUS) had just blitzed heat 15 of the day against Victor Ribas (BRA), scoring a massive 19.50 out of 20 and included a maximum wave score of 10 in his total. The perfect ride included an extremely deep tube followed by some massive snaps on a solid two-metre (six foot) wave. Burrow will now move through to take on Tom Whitaker (AUS) in round four.
Organisers are hoping to continue with round four tomorrow morning as forecasts indicate the swell from Super Typhoon Nabi will stick around for the next few days. A decision will be made at 7am local time after conditions are assessed.
Results of round three:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.67 def Shane Beschen (USA) 9.74
Heat 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.67 def Danny Wills (AUS) 9.84
Heat 3: Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.87 def Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 10.57
Heat 4: Toby Martin (AUS) 13.67 def CJ Hobgood (USA) 11.86
Heat 5: Paulo Moura (BRA) 14.66 def Cory Lopez (USA) 13.77
Heat 6: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 11.33 def Lee Winkler (AUS) 10.66
Heat 7: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 13.17 def Richard Lovett (AUS) 12.83
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.34 def Masato Watanabe (JAP) 7.93
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 16.83 def Dane Reynolds (USA) 7.73
Heat 10: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.67 def Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 8.83
Heat 11: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 13.00 def Nathan Hedge (AUS) 9.67
Heat 12: Troy Brooks (AUS) 16.83 def Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.17
Heat 13: Trent Munro (AUS) 14.83 def Renan Rocha (BRA) 12.33
Heat 14: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 16.84 def Michael Lowe (AUS) 15.67
Heat 15: Taj Burrow (AUS) 19.50 def Victor Ribas (BRA) 14.33
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.16 def Bede Durbidge (AUS) 9.07
Quiksilver will be doing live webcasts of the next three ASP WCT events on www.quiksilver.com and www.aspworldtour.com
* Quiksilver Pro Japan. 31 August - 7 September
* Boost Mobile Pro presented by Quiksilver. 13-18 September
* Quiksilver Pro France. 23 September - 2 October
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