Day Two – 2002 Billabong Pro South Africa

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)World Championship Tour (WCT), Event #5 of 12

South African Wildcard Creates Upset

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Jeffreys Bay, South Africa (Thursday, July 18) Local South African wildcardentrant Sean Holmes today caused a major upset by eliminating currentratings #2 Cory Lopez (USA) from the Billabong Pro. The US$250,000 WorldChampionship Tournament (WCT) recommenced this morning with most top seededsurfers advancing through round two.

Surf remained in the 4-5 ft (1.5m) range, though shifting sections made fortricky competition conditions. Sunny skies were a welcome relief toonlookers after the past couple of days rain.

In the day’s opening match, Holmes displayed a confident forehand attacksimilar to when he eliminated Mark Occhilupo (Aus) at J-Bay in his worldtitle-clinching year of 1999. Today, however, it was Lopez who felt thepinch. The South African never found a strong third score, but nonethelessadvanced to now challenge current ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw) in roundthree.[IMAGE 2]”I was a little bit nervous before the heat, but I felt pretty good outthere,” said Holmes. “I just went out there and gave it my all and came outon top. Bad luck to Cory. He could have got me if he found the wave at theend.

“It’s always good for a South African to do well here,” he continued.”There’s a lot of competition between the different nations and we’re alwaystrying to prove to each other that we’re better in every sport. For us tolose out here is almost like an insult, so we’re fighting to win.”

Lopez, who has carried an ankle injury all year and almost didn’t compete inthe Billabong Pro consequently, credited poor wave selection with his demisetoday.

“I didn’t get the waves I needed and I had one good but missed anopportunity on it,” said Lopez. “I just needed one more wave and went a badone near the end, and there was a better one behind it that would have beenenough. I’ll just have to look forward to next event.”

Current #3 and older brother Shea Lopez kept their family name alivehowever, by eliminating VZ wildcard opponent Shaun Cansdell (Aus). Ridingthe same board he used last year to score his first perfect 10 incompetition, Shea held off his challenger to advance with a satisfying win.

“That was hard, Shaun’s really good,” said Lopez. “He’s going to be one ofthe best surfers to come out of Australia in the coming years. I just wantedto start off strong and then hold priority, and I came out on top. It was abummer Cory lost, but someone’s got to keep going. Hopefully this board hasmore left in its little bag of tricks.”

Reigning world champ CJ Hobgood (USA) dominated his match against another VZwildcard, Bede Durbidge (Aus). The Floridian began on great wave, scoring8.75, and ultimately left his opponent hunting a combination of scoresfollowing another 8.0 ride toward the end.

“Bede’s a really good surfer and he’s from the Gold Coast (in Australia)where there are a lot of good rights, so I’m sure he felt at home outthere,” reasoned Hobgood. “That round is so nerve-racking. You don’t getmany points if you finish 33rd.

“It’s still early in the year, but Andy (Irons) and all these other guys aremaking heats, so if you want to be in the running you’ve got go make theseheats here and now,” he added. “I was definitely giving it everything I hadout there.”

1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo (Aus) overcame initial nerves to oust localwildcard entrant Brad Bricknell. ‘Occy’, who won a tournament here back in1984, today kept his 2002 campaign alive over the J-Bay standout.[IMAGE 3]”I was nervous ’cause Brad’s been surfing really good,” acknowledgedOcchilupo. “I knew it was going to be hard, but I felt good out there. Atthe end it was sketchy because he got the score he was after, and eventhough I only needed a low score, if a wave didn’t come it could have beenall over. Luckily it came.”

Current #7 and last WCT winner Mick Lowe (Aus) controlled his match withRodrigo Dornelles (Brz). Thpowerful goofy footer put his backhand attackthrough its paces, after dominating the field last month on his forehand inFiji. He’ll now battle good friend and crowd favorite Greg Emslie (SAfr).

“I’ve been here for two weeks preparing so I feel like I know the wavereally well,” said Lowe. “My boards and everything seem to be going great,so with a bit of luck we’ll see what happens. We don’t go to many placeswhere it’s freezing cold, so it’s good go put a jacket and a beanie on andwear a steamer at one of the world’s best rights.”

Two-time Billabong Pro champ Jake Paterson (Aus) displayed the form ofprevious event wins as he eliminated Paulo Moura (Brz). The Australian puthis trademark forehand carves to work, throwing buckets of spray andimpressing the judges.

“I was so nervous,” admitted Paterson afterward. “The 33rd (place) round isjust so gnarly. I was lucky to start with a good wave that put me in rhythm.It was tricky out there, but I had a lot of heats in conditions like thislast year. It’d be really good to make it up the top again, so I’m reallylooking forward to making a few more heats. I’ll take a bit confidence outof that heat into the next, for sure.”

Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) then stamped his authority overRussell Winter (UK). The 30 year old collected a 9.0, the best single scoreof the day, for two critical floaters on one wave, and backed this withanother 8.25 for a comfortable victory. Winter broke his surfboard halfwaythrough, adding further difficulties to his task, and ultimately required acombination of rides.

Slater, who will now face Taj Burrow (Aus) in a highly anticipated clash,remained in the water after his heat today and watched good friend ShaneDorian (Haw) edge out Maz Quinn (NZ). In what proved a close heat, theHawaiian sealed a third round appearance on his final ride. He’s now against1999 Billabong Pro champ Joel Parkinson (Aus), who won the year’s first WCTevent and today earned the highest three-wave tally for 24.6-points overVictor Ribas (Brz).

“It took a while to get a good score, but I just kept trying to better myprevious rides,” explained Dorian. “It was really tight. Kelly was out theretelling me where to sit. He was cheering me on, wanting me to win, and inthe end I did so I’m happy. It’s good to have Kelly back on tour.”

Current #12 Peterson Rosa amassed 24.15-points against good friend andfellow Brazilian Guilherme Herdy. Despite some eight years surfing togetherin competition, it was the first man-on-man heat they had contested and Rosadominated from start to finish. Having finished runner-up in the 2000Billabong Pro, he’s eager to go one better.

“It’s nice to be back at Jeffreys Bay and have a good time,” began Rosa. “Icaught some good rides and they got me through to the next round. It’s alittle hard to surf against a Brazilian friend, but I’m stoked to do welland make it.”

Tour veteran Fabio Gouveia (Brz) overcame world #4 and last year’s BillabongPro runner-up Taylor Knox (USA). The Brazilian, who lost his surfboard twodays ago when strong offshore winds literally blew it away after his leashbroke, had luck on his side today. A fishing boat was able to retrieve theboard and returned it unexpectedly to Gouveia this morning. Good fortunethen continued during his heat, with the 32 year old in control from theoutset. Knox, on the other hand, came down with a bout of food poisoninglast night and despite best efforts, was unable to display the ability hisreputation demands.

“I couldn’t really hear the scores, but after my first two waves I knew Iwas doing good,” said Gouveia. “After the heat Taylor told me he had foodpoisoning and was really sick last night. It’s part of the tour lifeunfortunately ’cause we travel all year eating away from home. I’m just sostoked I got my board back. After I lost it I thought it was gone forever,and it’s a good board. I’m so happy someone found it and brought it back tome.”

Official results of the Billabong Pro Round Two
H1: Sean Holmes (SAfr) 17.75 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 16.5
H2: CJ Hobgood (USA) 21.75 def. Bede Durbidge (Aus) 8.15
H3: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 21.05 def. Brad Bricknell (SAfr) 17.15
H4: Shea Lopez (USA) 19.25 def. Shaun Cansdell (Aus) 17.25
H5: Kalani Robb (Haw) 21.9 def. Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 9.9
H6: Mick Lowe (Aus) 18.25 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 14.75
H7: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 24.15 def. Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 9.05
H8: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 24.6 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 16.0
H9: Taj Burrow (Aus) 19.65 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 9.25
H10: Michael Campbell (Aus) 16.35 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 15.5
H11: Trent Munro (Aus) 19.25 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 16.25
H12: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 19.25 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.75
H13: Jake Paterson (Aus) 22.75 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 15.3
H14: Kelly Slater (USA) 20.75 def. Russell Winter (UK) 13.0
H15: Shane Dorian (Haw) 18.4 def. Maz Quinn (NZ) 16.5
H16: Pat O’Connell (USA) 16.5 def. Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.75
Round Two
H1: Sean Holmes (SAfr) 17.75 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 16.5
H2: CJ Hobgood (USA) 21.75 def. Bede Durbidge (Aus) 8.15
H3: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 21.05 def. Brad Bricknell (SAfr) 17.15
H4: Shea Lopez (USA) 19.25 def. Shaun Cansdell (Aus) 17.25
H5: Kalani Robb (Haw) 21.9 def. Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 9.9
H6: Mick Lowe (Aus) 18.25 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 14.75
H7: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 24.15 def. Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 9.05
H8: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 24.6 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 16.0
H9: Taj Burrow (Aus) 19.65 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 9.25
H10: Michael Campbell (Aus) 16.35 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 15.5
H11: Trent Munro (Aus) 19.25 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 16.25
H12: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 19.25 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.75
H13: Jake Paterson (Aus) 22.75 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 15.3
H14: Kelly Slater (USA) 20.75 def. Russell Winter (UK) 13.0
H15: Shane Dorian (Haw) 18.4 def. Maz Quinn (NZ) 16.5
H16: Pat O’Connell (USA) 16.5 def. Renan Rocha (Brz) 13.75