Irons Continues Top Form At Mundaka

Tuesday, October 5, 2004 (Mundaka, Euskadi, Spain) Reigning world champion Andy Irons (HAW) today continued his winning form in the Billabong Pro at Mundaka. Round one of the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) began first day of the waiting period, with nine non-elimination heats decided.

No waves were present this morning on the higher tide, but as Guernika River began to drain out around midday, long 3-4 ft (1m) lefthanders began to appear at the Basque region’s mythical surf venue. Conditions continued to improve this afternoon, with occasional 5ft (1.5m) waves running the length of the sandbar.

Irons, who two days ago won the WCT in France and extended his already healthy ratings lead, dominated round one action this afternoon at Mundaka. The Kauaian opened his 2004 campaign with a brilliant 9.5 score, and then supported this with another 8.0 to control both Peterson Rosa (BRA) and wildcard Pete Mendia (USA). After suffering a rare 33rd place result during last year’s Billabong Pro, today’s win provided added satisfaction.

“I was so nervous, admitted Irons, of competing at Mundaka again. “There were big lulls without waves, so I thought the tide may have gotten too high again. Thankfully that set came out of nowhere and I was able to do some long floaters and got rewarded with a 9.5. Anything can happen out at Mundaka, so I wasn’t taking that heat lightly at all.

“I went from such a high, to a real low the next morning as I got food poisoning, he continued, of being sick following his recent victory. “It was only the other day, so I actually didn’t know how my body was going to react. I still felt pretty achy, so glad I can relax for at least a day while I get it out of my system.

Defending event and six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) posted the day’s best single score for a near-perfect 9.73. The Floridian landed a series of three incredible floating maneuvers down the line, leaving Paulo Moura (BRA) and local wildcard Hodei Collazo (ESP) playing catch-up for the remainder of the exchange.

“I just got a bomb, and the sections were perfectly timed to get speed off of each floater, explained Slater of his best ride. “It was a good, long wave, so I knew it would be a score. I probably did something like eight turns on it.

Kalani Robb (HAW) won this year’s opening heat over Greg Emslie (ZAF) 1999 event and world champ Mark Occhilupo (AUS). The Hawaiian commenced his campaign with a series of super crisp snaps in the pocket and big carves, locking in an 8.67 score for the narrow victory over Emslie. ‘Occy’ meanwhile, required a combination of rides to match his opponents. Robb – the current ratings #26 – was happy just to be given another opportunity to compete out at Mundaka.

“The waves were really good, though there wasn’t that many of them, explained Robb. “Whoever gets a heat out here is pretty lucky, since we hardly ever run at Mundaka. That was only my second heat out there in four years. I’m really stoked to have a frontside, rippable wave on tour. I just got a 33rd (placing) in the last contest in France, so I’m real happy to be past that round already. I want a good result here.

Brazilian Victor Ribas defeated Australians Toby Martin and Jake Paterson. The goofy footer executed some strong forehand snaps to create a solid lead. Coming off his equal best result of the season last week in France (quarterfinals), Ribas is eager to use the added momentum on Mundaka’s unique wave.

“It was pretty inconsistent, so I just tried to compete at my best as get as many waves as I could, said Ribas. “Mundaka is such a beautiful place. I feel good here, and it’s one of the best waves in the world for sure.

Current ratings #3 CJ Hobgood (FL, USA) bounced back from an early loss in France to win his opening heat at Mundaka. The 2001 world champion even boosted an aerial for advantage over Guilherme Herdy (BRA) and Europe’s sole representative on the WCT, Eric Rebiere. Nonethheless, the Floridian reasoned anything less than an event win isn’t going to help his pursuit for this year’s world title.

“I just tried to make the most of my waves and ended up with a couple of scores, said Hobgood. “We’re all just a bunch of numbers right now though. Until we win some events it really doesn’t matter, since Andy’s so far ahead on the ratings. I don’t get excited unless I’m winning, cause I’m going to stay in the same place. Second, third and fourth, we’re all pretty close, so it’s all about getting wins to catch him.

Australian Phil MacDonald belted some big backhand turns for an 8.23 score and lead over Shane Beschen (USA) and fellow Aussie Luke Egan. The current ratings #24 picked off a couple of bigger sets waves and maximized his opportunity to advance.

“I was lucky to get a couple of bigger sets, said MacDonald. “It was tricky out there, as if you tried to hit the lip too hard, the wave would run away from you. It’s good to be through.

Cory Lopez (FL, USA) won the day’s final heat, defeating world #4 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS) and Billabong wildcard Shaun Cansdell (AUS). The Floridian led from the outset, before ‘Parko’ locked in an 8.33 midway through, but Lopez sealed his round three berth with a final 8.4 ride.

ASP President Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew had the following to say this morning, during the traditional Basque opening ceremony; “On behalf of ASP International, I’d like to thank the people of Mundaka for welcoming everybody. We all love coming here as it’s a very special place. I’d like to thank the Mundaka and Bakio councils for allowing this event to happen. And especially, big thanks to Billabong for their tremendous support of ASP and professional surfing.

Billabong’s live webcast production will resemble a virtual TV show, with action replay’s, 3 camera angles, webcams in the judging and surfers’ areas, live interviews, commercials, and previews of sick Billabong movies! On top of all this, you’ll not only be able to email the commentary team, you’ll be able to speak to them live through skype.com! Check it out on www.billabongpro.com

Billabong Pro Mundaka Round One (1st>Rnd3; 2nd&3rd>Rnd2)

H1: Kalani Robb (HAW) 15.84; Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.26; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 9.66

H2: Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.33; Toby Martin (AUS) 7.93; Jake Paterson (AUS) 7.6

H3: Tim Curran (USA) 15.0; Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.04; Luke Hitchings (AUS) 12.67

H4: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 15.9; Shane Beschen (USA) 14.23; Luke Egan (AUS) 12.87

H6: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 14.1; Armando Daltro (BRA) 13.86; Pat O’Connell (USA) 10.63

H7: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.34; Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 13.83; Eric Rebiere (FRA) 9.97

H8: Andy Irons (HAW) 17.5; Peterson Rosa (BRA) 15.1; Peter Mendia (USA) 12.9

H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.63; Paulo Moura (BRA) 12.6; Hodei Collazo (ESP) 11.6

H10: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.73; Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.33; Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 10.77

Remaining Billabong Pro Mundaka Round One Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd&3rd>Rnd2)

H11: Michael Lowe (AUS); Raoni Monteiro (BRA); Nathan Webster (AUS)

H12: Daniel Wills (AUS); Bruce Irons (HAW); Trent Munro (AUS)

H13: Dean Morrison (AUS); Darren O’Rafferty (AUS); Marcelo Nunes (BRA)

H14: Sunny Garcia (HAW) Michael Campbell (AUS); Tom Whitaker (AUS)

H15: Taylor Knox (USA); Neco Padaratz (BRA); Kieren Perrow (AUS)

H16: Lee Winkler (AUS); Troy Brooks (AUS); Chris Davidson (AUS)

H5: Taj Burrow (AUS); Richard Lovett (AUS); Beau Emerton (AUS) — rescheduled

The Billabong Pro Mundaka is supported by prestigious co-sponsors such as Vans, Von Zipper, Hertz, Yamaha and Cobra Jet ski, as well as local companies and administrations such as Mundaka, the Mundaka Surf Club, The Basque Surfing Federation, Bakio and the Bakio Surf Club, BBK, Telefonica and the Basque Government.