October 2, 2003 (Hossegor, France) Wildcard entrants continued their ominouscampaigns in the Quiksilver Pro France today. Remaining first round heatswere completed in the US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT), beforethe threat of a major storm stopped organizers from progressing further.
Great 4ft (1.3m) waves were on offer at Les Bourdaines, improving as thetide decreased and clean right and lefthanders graced the lineup.
Picking up where Australian Troy Books left off yesterday, local Frenchwildcard Frederick Robin showed no nerves against Jake Paterson (West Aus)and reigning world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw). The Quiksilver ProFrance trialist was all-class on his backhand, displaying the calmconfidence of a seasoned campaigner, despite being in one of his first WCTheats. Paterson and Irons now have to contest the dreaded ‘losers’ secondround.
“I waited for some good waves and just surfed without pressure,” reasonedRobin. “It went well for me, and I had fun. It’s good to be at home inFrance with all the people behind you.”
Patrick Beven – another local French wildcard – did likewise the followingmatch with a brilliant backhand attack to hold off an equally in-form KalaniRobb (Haw), as well as world #2 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Aus). Robbactually posted the best single score so far with a 9.43, but still requiredanother ride worth 7.73-points to catch Beven’s lead.
“I feel great,” began Beven. “I caught all the best waves. There was a bitof hassling in the water, but I did my job. I didn’t have anything to lose,and know those guys can get big scores easily, so I just tried to stay onthe inside position and wait. It’s great as all my friends are here watchingand I can show my potential.”
Six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) fought back against defendingQuiksilver Pro France winner Neco Padaratz (Brz) and Trials champion TiagoPires (Port). Padaratz led from the start, but Slater took control with along lefthander, scoring an 8.1. The Brazilian then snapped his board as heattempted to regain the lead, while Pires was unable to find any highscoring rides.
“I hadn’t surfed a wave in three weeks before that heat and I rode a newboard, so I was trying to get used to it,” admitted Slater. “I startedgetting it going towards the end and found some scores to hold Neco off.Being the defending champ he’s wanting to win every heat, even more thanusual, so it felt good to get a win over him.
“I’m glad I get the next round off so I can practice some more,” hecontinued. “Andy has to surf the next round, as he didn’t look on at allthis morning. His timing was off, and he seems to be going through a strangeperiod these past few events, but I’m sure he’ll turn it around quickenough.”
West Australian Taj Burrow set the pace in this morning’s opening heat,earning a 9.33 and the highest combined total of 17.66-points. Againstwildcard Jonathan Gonzalez (Canary Is.) and Pat O’Connell (CA, USA), thecurrent ratings #3 dominated with his light-footed approach, performingmultiple maneuvers in the tightest of spaces.
“I just tried to stall the organizers as long as I could, as I knew it wasgoing to get better,” explained Burrow, of the two-hour wait prior to theirmatch. “When we got out there it was fun. I had a bit of shaky start, but asthe tide dropped I managed to get a couple of really good scores and wasstoked.
“I’m pretty happy with the ratings and am comfortable with where I’msitting,” he added, of the title race. “I’m excited about the comingevents.”
Brazilian Guilherme Herdy sealed his opening round win on a fantasticrighthander toward the end of his clash with Taylor Knox (CA, USA) andfellow countryman Fabio Gouveia. ‘Herdy’ worked his way down the line withstrong backhand surfing, collecting an 8.27 and third round berth.
“I’m so stoked as I had a problem with my knee last week,” explained Herdy.”I haven’t been able to train orr surf, but then I got some good waves so Ithank God.”
Australian Shane Powell (Avoca) was another standout, earning a 9.0 on agreat righthander. He defeated Damien Hobgood (FL, USA), who finished aclose second, and good friend and fellow countryman Beau Emerton (GoldCoast). Chris Davidson (Narrabeen) then controlled the final heat of theround against fellow Australians Luke Hitchings (Bronte) and Richie Lovett(Manly) – winner of the previous WCT in California.
Quiksilver Pro France Round One Heats (1st>Rnd 3; 2nd, 3rd>Rnd 2)
H7: Taj Burrow (Aus) 17.66; Jonathan Gonzalez (Spn) 12.5; Pat O’Connell(Aus) 11.84
H8: Frederick Robin (Fra) 14.33; Jake Paterson (Aus) 13.17; Andy Irons (Haw)10.67
H9: Patrick Beven (Fra) 17.16; Kalani Robb (Haw) 16.7; 12. Joel Parkinson(Aus) 12.2
H10: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.1; Neco Padaratz (Brz) 14.76; Tiago Pires (Port)11.5
H11: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 14.77; Taylor Knox (USA) 14.0; Fabio Gouveia(Brz) 13.3
H12: Shane Powell (Aus) 16.73; Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.67; Beau Emerton(Aus) 11.77
H13: Armando Daltro (Brz) 13.5; Danilo Costa (Brz) 10.7; Mark Occhilupo(Aus) 9.67
H14: Shea Lopez (USA) 15.53; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.67; Darren O’Rafferty(Aus) 12.27
H15: Daniel Wills (Aus) 14.53; Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 13.77; Lee Winkler(Aus) 10.33
H16: Chris Davidson (Aus) 15.0; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 13.2; Richard Lovett(Aus) 11.9