The second day of competitive surfing got underway today as The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch once again found itself heading for the best swell on this northern coast, at The Bowl of Brims Ness.
Although the predicted increase of swell failed to materialize, there were plenty of barrels and fast waves for the rest of the guys from the first round to battle it out in this 6 Star Prime Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) event.
Among them was the O’Neill rider, Hugo Savalli who had a tough fight on his hands and finished second in his heat to go through to the next round. “If you lead in the beginning of a heat, you have a lot less hassle to fight your way up. It was a battle but I am happy to get through.”
Hawaiian surfer Mason Ho is over in Scotland for the first time ever. Finishing top of his heat, the young star, and son of Hawaiian legend Michael Ho, was clearly excited to be in the water competing.
“This is my first time here and I love it. I love the barrels in this wave,” he said. “I was wearing my dad’s 3/2 wetsuit so I was scared it would not fit. It was ok, but I was trying to land a trick for the people watching and it was too cold for me to land it properly.”
Despite the smaller swell there were a few outstanding tricks which will be put forward for the Amph Progression Award.
Hawaiian Gavin Gillette pulled off a frontside olly to tail tap, whilst the outstanding wave of the day came from the American surfer Nathaniel Curran who impressed everyone with his ally oop.
The nominees for the Amph Progression Award will be posted on the website and voted for by the public for the 2,000 Euro prize money.
After three and a half hours of competition, conditions deteriorated and contest director, Matt Wilson called it off for the day at 2pm after eight heats.
“Very early this morning it showed a lot more promise than I saw throughout the day,” Matt said. “At the moment we are dealing with an unreliable weather system and small swell, and we would rather stop the heats too early than too late.”
One surfer who is keen to get into the water and start competing is last year’s runner up, and a determined competitor this season, Jarrad Howse.
“I surfed this morning for the first time since I got here,” he said. “I think my hair is longer than last year, because my fringe was on my forehead and I got a really bad icecream headache… until I moved it away.
I am going a little crazy because I want to freesurf and practice. Actually tonight I am going to head to Brims at about 8.45pm to practice hopefully on my own for 45 minutes before it gets dark.”
The next call will be made tomorrow, April 26, at 6.30am
All the day’s highlights can be viewed on www.oneilltv.com
The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch runs from 23 to 30 April. It’s not for the faint-hearted – but it is the place where you’ll see the best surfing in Britain this year.
The O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch is organized by O’Neill and supported by Swatch, Red Bull, EventScotland, Visit Scotland and HIE Caithness & Sutherland.