October 29, 2003 (Joaquina, Florianopolis, Brasil) The Nova Schin FestivalWCT Brasil again went mobile today, relocating to nearby Caldeirao beach.Remaining round one heats of the US$250,000 ASP World ChampionshipTournament (WCT) were completed, before the first three heats from the’losers’ second round unfolded. Remaining heats were then postponed as stormclouds moved in and drenched the thousands who had also made the journey towatch.
Onshore winds and stormy 3-4 ft (1.3m) surf was again on offer at the mainsite of Joaquina this morning, but after evaluating the surrounding area,organizers opted for Caldeirao – further south at the tip of FlorianopolisIsland. Good 4-6 ft (1.3-2m) peak conditions greeted competitors.
Reigning world champ Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw) today survived a close ‘losers’round match-up against local wildcard Fabricio Machado. The Kauaian fell anumber of times and selected some poor rides, before finally locking in thelow scoring heat’s best ride for a 6.0 near its end. His opponent onlyrequired an equally small score during the final 2-minutes, but was unableto catch a thing. Despite the win, Irons was still visibly disappointed withhis performance.
“I don’t know what’s happened, the good luck from last year has turned badthis year,” began Irons, after the nerve-racking heat. “That was a reallyclose one and I’m just glad he didn’t catch a wave at the end, since he onlyneeded a little bit. The waves were good, kind of like Duranbah (Aus) andreally wedgey. I just hope I can get some rhythm going. I’ve felt kind ofshaky lately, so I want to get back on a good roll.
“It’s the only board I have left,” he explained, of the equipment he rodewhich seems to be giving him problems. “I brought three boards here, butbroke one and buckled the other already. All three were new and I haven’tliked the feel of them. They have the same dimensions as I usually ride, buthave just felt weird in Brazil. I’m going to try and borrow a board for mynext heat.
“It’s all good and makes for good press,” he added, of the ratings leadswinging last week in Spain. “Just seeing my name next to Kelly Slater’sname in surfing is kind of like being compared to Michael Jordan inbasketball, so I think it’s a compliment. It’s a good race and hopefully itgoes down to the last contest (in Hawaii).”
Californian Taylor Knox also emerged victorious after a tight battle withreigning two-time national Brazilian champ Leonardo Neves. The lead swungtoward the end, but Knox was able to secure a round three berth and keep hisNova Schin Festival WCT Brasil campaign alive.
“I guess I waited around a lot while he got a couple on the inside,” saidKnox. “I’d been watching it earlier and thought I knew where it wasbreaking. At the end I was getting frustrated, especially when he took thelead, but I made sure I caught another ride.”
Cory Lopez (FL, USA) earlier overcame the daunting prospect of facing twoBrazilians in front of a patriotic audience. Against local Florianopolissurfing hero Flavio Padaratz and fellow countryman Danilo Costa, theFloridian could hear the crowd’s vocal support of his opponents, but usedthis as added fuel to charge into round three. Older brother Shea alsoprogressed the following match.
“There’s a lot of people here and the Brazilians are really into it, like asoccer atmosphere,” began Lopez. “They’re really into their sports, and Ihad two Brazilians in my heat, and I could hear the crowd kind of booing meafter one wave (laughs). But you take that negative energy and use itagainst them. I knew it was going to be tough, especially against Flavio, ashe knows all the spots around here really well. I just got lucky to find thebetter waves.”
Chris Davidson (Narrabeen) posted a big win over 1999 world champ MarkOcchilupo (Gold Coast) and fellow Australian Darren O’Rafferty (PortMacquarie) in the second last heat of round one. Occy unleashed some bigturns on both his forehand annd backhand, but ‘Davo’ found a great backhandbarrel to score an 8.0, and then his final 7.1 pushed him through.
“Pretty stoked about beating Occ,” said Davidson. “We had a bit of a grudgematch, so it feels good to get him. I saw the section on that left andwasn’t going to pull in, but then it opened up and I had a go, and then dida little turn afterward and got an eight.
“I love coming to Brazil,” he added, having won a major 6-Star WQS here lastyear. “I just want to do well here again and hopefully keep moving up theratings. I’m doing well on the WQS, but I want to qualify for next year’stour though the WCT for once.”
Another decision will be made at 8am tomorrow morning at Joaquina.
Nova Schin Festival WCT Brasil Round One Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd&3rd>Rnd2)
H12: Cory Lopez (Brz) 13.93; Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 12.0; Danilo Costa (Brz)7.7
H13: Shea Lopez (Brz) 15.43; Luke Stedman (Aus) 13.33; Shane Powell (Aus)10.4
H14: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 14.83; Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.2; Armando Daltro(Brz) 5.54
H15: Chris Davidson (Aus) 15.1; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 14.53; DarrenO’Rafferty (Aus) 11.96
H16: Lee Winkler (Aus) 11.03; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 10.24; Beau Emerton (Aus)9.6
Round Two (1st>Rnd3; 2nd=33rd receives US$3,000)H1: Andy Irons (Haw) 10.67 def. Fabricio Machado (Brz) 9.17
H2: Mick Lowe (Aus) 14.16 def. Diego Rosa (Brz) 10.5
H3: Taylor Knox (USA) def. Leonardo Neves (Brz)