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News provided by ASP World Tour on 20 June 2006

Surfers competing in the 2006 edition of the Rip Curl Pro Search WCT are claiming that perfection has been found.

With amazingly hollow and extremely long waves pumping across the sand bank of the mystery break called La Jolla, located “somewhere in Mexico”, the crew competing on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour have been ecstatic all day claiming that waves ridden today have been some of the best of their lives.

Winners and losers alike were exiting the water with huge ear-to-ear grins, such was the buzz surrounding surfing in such perfect waves, and many have claimed that “you don’t need to search any further the best wave in the world has been found.”

It is the first time an event has been held at the location, given that Rip Curl has a “floating licence” that allows them to move the event each year, and all day surfers have been stating that they are overwhelmed by the experience.

Making the most of his time in the water was Bobby Martinez (USA) who on his backside locked in the highest heat total of the day.

The talented Californian has earned the moniker “the smiling assassin” from his peers as he quietly goes about his business, lets his surfing do the talking and constantly brings down the biggest names in the sport.

Taking to his rookie year amongst the big players like a duck to water Martinez was extra sharp today as he took down event wildcard Ben Dunn (AUS) and seasoned veteran Mark Occhilupo (AUS).

"This wave is incredible!” said Martinez. "I’ve actually been down here before. This wave has so much potential - it’s one of the best places I’ve ever surfed. I mean Yuri Sodre just lost his heat even though he got a perfect 10.00!”

As expected the current world number two was over the moon with his win against Occhilupo. It’s actually the second time this year he has had a win over him, but smiling as always and keeping his ego well and truly at bay Martinez was full of praise for his hero.

“It’s a thrill to surf against Occy,” said Martinez. “But it’s a scary thrill because I know I can lose in a heartbeat. Every time I have him in a heat I go to bed thinking about it. He’s inspired me so much, and he does to this day. I tossed and turned all night I give him all the respect in the world."

Also staking his claim on the event today was defending Rip Curl Pro Search WCT champion Mick Fanning (AUS).

Fanning, who on one wave pulled into the tube on five different occasions – such is the length of the ride – showed perhaps his best form of the year to date as he threw enormous amounts of spray into the air with each turn.

Leaving the water five minutes prior to the completion of the heat, it was obvious that the physical challenge of surfing such a long wave had taken its toll.

"I’m really tired,” said Fanning at the water’s edge. “I caught my last wave and I was on the beach, I knew it was a good one but I was too buggered to even run back out. We still had five minutes so I just sat there and watched the other two get so ‘shacked’ - it was heavy.”

Despite his fatigue you couldn’t have wiped the extra large grin from his face with a gold club.

He, like everyone, has been blown away with the fun on offer.

“It’s such a perfect wave - it’s ridiculous,” said Fanning. “It just runs, and you can set it up, and you want to try to slow your speed down so you can stay in the barrel.”

Returning to competition today, Kelly Slater (USA) indicated that he has fully recovered from a rib injury that had been nagging him since the tour’s second event, The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Australia.

Landing a perfect 10 on one wave, Slater took off amazingly deep around the point and slipped into what looked to be an unmakeable barrel.

After locking under the lip for around six seconds he emerged and continued to destroy the wave some 200 metres down the beach.

“What a wave,” said Slater. “I was trying to gauge where I should take off. As I let go of my rails, the backwash hit, but then the wave breathed for a minute and let me back in it."
Given that he has been out of the water for some time, like Fanning it was evident that he was struggling with the sweeping conditions and as the event moves towards the business end it will be a serious test of fitness for the seven-time world champion.
"I felt pretty good in that heat,” said Slater. “I’m just weak because I haven’t been surfing or been doing that much exercise. I don’t have the conditioning. I could barely feel the injury when I’m paddling.”

Another tour rookie in David Weare (ZAF) was also particularly outstanding.

He not only came home with the second highest score of the day, an 18.10 (matching Fanning), he also set up Taj Burrow (AUS), who is ranked five at present, with an appointment in the second round. (Winners go through to round three while second and third compete in round two.)

"That is one of the most perfect waves I’ve ever surfed, especially in a heat,” said an elated Weare. “It’s phenomenal. It was great to get out there and sample a couple."

With the swell expected to continue to pump tomorrow it is expected that the event will continue into round two tomorrow.

Heat One: 1. Bruce Irons (HAW); Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.83; Peterson Rosa (BRA) 8.10
Heat 2: 1. CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.83; 2. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.50; 3. Toby Martin (AUS) 10.74
Heat 3: 1. Taylor Knox (USA) 15.67; 2. Pedro Henrique (BRA) 6.60; 3. Paulo Moura (BRA) 5.94
Heat 4: 1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.83; 2. Roy Powers (HAW) 16.67; 3. Tim Reyes (USA) 14.57
Heat 5: 1. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.10; 2. Greg Emslie (ZAF)16.07; 3. Yuri Sodre (BRA) 15.83
Heat 6: 1. Davey Weare (ZAF) 18.10; 2. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.50; Phil Macdonald (AUS) 8.00
Heat 7: 1. Bobby Martinez (USA) 18.13; 2. Ben Dunn (AUS) 16.47; 3. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 13.17
Heat 8: 1. Kelly Slater (USA) 16.83; 2. Luke Stedman (AUS) 13.33; 3. Oscar Moncada (MEX) 11.66
Heat 9: 1. Andy Irons (HAW) 17.76; 2. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.83; 3. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 6.17
Heat 10: 1. Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.94; 2. Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 9.50; 3. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 8.34
Heat 11: 1. Troy Brooks (AUS) 9.60; 2. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 9.04; 3. Jarrad Howse (AUS) 8.57
Heat 12: 1. Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.00; 2. Mikael Picon (FRA) 9.16; 3. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 7.84
Heat 13: 1. Mick Lowe (AUS) 14.50; 2. Trent Munro (AUS) 13.93; 3. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.83
Heat 14: 1. Chris Ward (USA) 16.07; 2. Dean Morrison (AUS) 11.86; 3. Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.17
Heat 15: 1. Cory Lopez (USA) 15.34, 2. Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 12.83, 3. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 11.43
Heat 16: 1. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.60; 2. Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.87; Danny Wills (AUS) 14.16


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