Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Top Seeds Dominate ‘Losers’ Round
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia (Easter Sunday, March 31st) The 30thAnniversary Rip Curl Pro continued today with the ‘losers’ second round. Topseeds in the US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) dominated,setting the scene for some great match-ups in later rounds.
Clean 4-6 ft (1.5-2 m) conditions persisted, though the changing tide forcedsurfers to move from the ‘bowl’ section of the lineup, closer onto the rockshelf known as ‘Rincon’ during the middle of the day. Sunshine also greetedthe huge Easter crowd.
The anticipated match-up this morning showcasing reigning world champion CJHobgood (USA) and local wildcard Troy Brooks proved fairly one-sided. The 22year old Floridian picked off two waves from the outset, putting pressure onhis opponent immediately, and then upped the ante with an 8.0 in his tally.Brooks secured one good ride and was always a threat, but required6.81-points when time elapsed.
“I was really nervous out there,” admitted Hobgood. “I was just stoked I gotthose couple at the beginning. I don’t think I was surfing that good, but amstoked to get through. Troy is a great surfer and he knows the wave. It’sgood to get some momentum going, for sure.”
World #7 Peterson Rosa (Brz) then faced another wildcard in Zane Harrison(Aus). The Brazilian trailed for the majority of the heat, before locking inthe first barrel of the 2002 event for 8.5-points. He then secured the leadwith 5.35 on his final wave, as the Australian sat in the lineup. A set ofwaves arrived, but unfortunately for Harrison he was unable to positionhimself, and thus failed to advance.
“I started slowly and waited for the good ones,” explained Rosa. “When Icaught that wave I stalled my board, got in the tube and then came out for agood score. I waited for another good one, but I thought he was going totake one of those last sets and beat me. I love Bells, so I’m stoked to makeit.”
World #8 Michael Lowe (Aus) posted the highest single wave score of theevent for a near-perfect 9.25, to eliminate replacement wildcard BenBourgeois (USA). The Australian opened his account with a 7.0, but on hislast ride executed a series of critical backhand maneuvers for what became adecisive victory.
“I had priority and just knew it was going to be the one,” explained Lowe,of his great ride. “As I stroked into it I was just thinking ‘I better notblow this’. Then I tried to get another to make sure Ben couldn’t beat me,as he only needed an 8.36, but out there that’s a pretty good score.
“Every heat you have to surf as well as you can, and that’s what it’s allabout,” he continued. “That 33rd (place) round is nasty, so I’m glad to beout of it.”
World #17 Nathan Webster racked up the highest combined heat tally of thetournament as he eliminated tour rookie and fellow Australian DarrenO’Rafferty. The 28 year old earned a 9.0 toward the end of the match, toamass 23.15-points for a commanding win.
Last year’s event runner-up Danny Wills eliminated WCT newcomer and fellowAustralian Phil MacDonald. In what proved a slow heat for good waves, theturning point came when MacDonald allowed Wills to catch his final ride,upon which he earned 4.9-points and the win. He’ll now face 2001 Rip CurlPro champion Mick Fanning (Aus) in a fantastic round three re-match.
“I was really nervous, just being in that 33rd round,” said Wills afteradvancing. “There weren’t a lot of waves in that heat and he probablyshouldn’t have let me go that last one. He only needed to better a low scoreand he would have (on it), but I was lucky enough to get it and the score.
“It’s definitely a goal,” he agreed, of wanting to better his 2001 result.”Mainly I wanted to get past that round, so now I’ll take each heat as itcomes and see where I end up.”
Former world #2 Taj Burrow (Aus) fought back to overcome Pat O’Connnell(USA). The 23-year-old had crowd support on his side, but madeuncharacteristic mistakes early on which appeared costly. His scoresimproved, however, and by heat end had done enough.
“That was a really shaky start for both of us,” admitted Burrow. “I was asnervous as I’ve ever been and it was probably the worst I have ever surfed.I feel like I haven’t been getting the results I should have recently, so Iwas so nervous about getting last again. It kind of freaked me out, so I’mjust glad I got through.”
World #37 Marcelo Nunes (Brz) caused an upset by eliminating former world #2Shane Powell (Aus). The 22 year old, who likened today’s conditions to hishome break in Brazil, made good use of the right-handers with a strongbackhand attack. He’ll now challenge world champ Hobgood in round three.
“Today the waves are like my city in Brazil,” explained Nunes. “My board isgoing good, so I’m very happy.”
World #26 Nathan Hedge (Aus) did likewise, ending the run of world #15 andcurrent #3 Shea Lopez (USA). The Australian surfed a smart heat, forcing hisopponent to use up priority at a critical point on a poor quality wave.
“I realized priority is everything out there and you have to pick the rightwave,” said Hedge. “I didn’t feel like I surfed all that good, but did whatI had to and luck came through.”
WCT newcomer Kieren Perrow (Aus) put on a great performance to oust 1999 RipCurl Pro champion Shane Dorian (Haw). The 25 year old collected an 8.5en-route to victory, and left the more experienced Dorian a combination ofrides in his wake, requiring 11.81-points. Perrow now faces Webster nextheat.
“You’ve never won until the hooter has sounded, so I was still prettyanxious for it to end,” said Perrow, of securing his top score midway. “Ihad a bad start, but I’m glad I settled into a rhythm.”
Dean Morrison, another tour rookie, then eliminated former world #2 andfellow Australian Mick Campbell in blistering form. The 21 year old blockedout nerves to collect three high scores and create a huge lead whereby hisopponent required a combination of scores worth 14.76-points. He’ll now meetworld #16 Richie Lovett (Aus), who disposed of close friend Beau Emerton intheir match today.
“The waves I got linked up really well and I think Mick had a bit of ashocker,” reasoned Morrison. “There were a lot of people on the beach, but Ijust blocked them out and pretended I was by myself.
“Every contest I pick something new up and take it on board with me,” heexplained, of gaining experience. “I’m just going out next heat to try mybest.”