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News provided by ASP World Tour on 12 April 2006

Hawaiian three-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Andy Irons threw down the challenge to one and all today after a devastating win in heat eight of round one of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia.

In the heat, which was held in clean one to 1.5 metre waves at the nearby location of Winkipop, Irons scored a perfect 10 and a 7.83 (total 17.83) to claim the top points for the day as he easily outclassed his rivals Bobby Martinez (USA) and Nic Muscroft (AUS).

In notching up the 10-point ride Irons executed no less than five incredible re-entry style power turns and two massive floating manoeuvres in the white water before flicking out to the deafening cheer of the crowd.

Irons missed the opening event press conference due to being unwell but showed no signs that he was feeling under the weather today.

“Before the event I was just feeling bad from the flight,” said Irons. “I had a bug from flying so much I think. I came straight from Mexico and I was just worn down, I just needed to rest for a few days so I’m just glad they didn’t run the first day. I still feel a little tired but I’m coming out of it for sure.”

Speaking on his 10-point ride, the first of the 2006 season, he instantly sparked up.

“I was just on the corner so I went straight into a floater,” said Irons. “I almost fell on that, I was a little wobbly when I came off, did a snap and then set up for the third one, a good one where I just kind of kicked the tail. Then I did about five more and two more floaters and when I hit the close out my legs were burning!”

Also making an impact in round one was none other than seven-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Kelly Slater, who was rumoured to be laid up in bed for three days prior to the event.

His performance indicated that he had overcome his ailment and that he was close to finding the form that saw him hold up the Rip Curl Pro bell trophy way back in 1994.

Slater notched up a total of 17 points out of 20 and like Irons, left Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Adam Robertson needing two high-scoring waves to catch up.

He credited his win to his utilizing different tactics from those of de Souza and local wildcard Robertson in that he elected to sit a lot further towards the end of the ride away from his rivals.

“I saw Adriano go way up the point and I figured that Robbo knew where to sit,” said Slater. “But I saw a few sneakers down on the end that no one caught the heat before, so I figured I’d let them try to position against each other and then I’d get a quick start and pressure them a little from down the line.”

Speaking on his health and his condition in the lead up to the Rip Curl Pro, Slater felt that he was well on his way back to full strength.

“I feel good. I did fall on two of my waves,” said Slater. “I’m just really weak. Everybody’s been saying that I’ve been sick. I haven’t been sick, I’m just really worn out from traveling, working and doing other things besides surfing. I just needed some down time because I don’t have much energy right now.”

Both Slater and Irons receive a day off as first round winners progress directly through to round three while second and third will now partake in the sudden death round two.

In the lead up to the event, numerous surfers were forced to withdraw due to injury.

Toby Martin (AUS) was forced to pull out after he broke bones in his shoulder, and Adrian Buchan (AUS) towelled the event when a lingering ankle injury failed to heal in time.

A shock withdrawal right on the eve of round one was that of Raoni Monteiro (BRA) who has succumbed to a debilitating knee injury he received on a recent trip to Indonesia.

Rip Curl’s team pit boss, Matt Griggs, is confident that Raoni is receiving the best treatment available and he indicated that the flashy Brazilian is now preparing for the upcoming events on the tour at the infamous Tahitian break known as Teahupoo.

“Raoni has already overcome the disappointment about having to pull out of the Rip Curl Pro,” said Griggs. “And he is determined to be in his best form for the next event in Tahiti.”

Raoni noted that he is returning to Brazil to rest at home and seek treatment with his local physiotherapists in Rio De Janeiro.

“A couple of weeks at home will be good for me to recover properly with my local doctor and spend time with my daughter,” said Monteiro.

Greg Emslie (ZAF) meanwhile was another to fall victim to a knee injury when after landing a big turn in the opening heat of the day he tweaked his medial ligament.

“Yeah I got the win out there in the heat but I actually injured my knee in the process,” said Emslie. “I went up for a large manoeuvre and when I came down I tweaked what I think is the ligament because I have done this before and know the feeling. I’m going to get it looked at now and hopefully it won’t be too bad and after a rest today I should be okay to surf in round three.”

He will seek treatment straight away and use the day off he received after his first round win to recover.

Organisers of the Rip Curl Pro will assess conditions at 7am tomorrow morning with the aim of starting at 7.30am if conditions are up to par.


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