Irons Defeats Padaratz For Ultimate Revenge At The Billabong Pro Mundaka

Billabong Pro Mundaka (Oct 9-21)
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Irons Defeats Padaratz For Ultimate Revenge

Mundaka, Euskadi, Spain (Thursday, October 17) Current ratings leader AndyIrons (Haw) today defeated Neco Padaratz (Brz) to win the Billabong ProMundaka. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) relocated tonearby Bakio beach at midday and commenced with quarterfinal heats, followedby the semis, before climaxing with the grand finale and crowning of the2002 champion and EuroSIMA Grand Slam winner.

Waves were 2-3 ft (0.6-1m) at Bakio, though the swell outlook for Mundakadid not appear promising for the remainder of the waiting period.Organizers, together with those surfers left in contention, opted to utilizewhat they had of offer. While rainsqualls were present during competitiontoday, the major thunder and lightning storm waited until just after thefinal to erupt.

Irons, 24, entered his fourth WCT final of 2002 extremely eager to avengethe loss suffered to Padaratz during the last one in France 11 days ago. TheHawaiian had already won back-to-back tournaments earlier in the year for acommanding ratings lead, but today shot further ahead and pocketed anotherUS$30,000 prizemoney, as well as the US$5,000 bonus for achieving thehighest combined European points over recent events in Portugal, France andnow Spain.

Against the Brazilian during the 30-minute final Irons created a strong leadfrom the outset, with five of his six rides highlighting a desire to win.His second score of 8.75 was the best of the match, and overall he secured athree-wave total of 22.75-points. On one he even executed a trademarkforehand carving reverse 360 in the difficult conditions.

“Oh my God,” said Irons, as he exited the water. “I’m just on top of theworld right now. I knew in these kinds of waves Neco’s such a toughcompetitor to beat, so I had to wait for the better waves and just try andlink my ones all the way through and get the bigger turns off. I’m so happyand stoked. He got me in the last one in the final five minutes, so paybackis good.

“It’s definitely in the back of my head,” he admitted, of the ratings racenow. “I’m not going to count any chickens before they hatch. I’m going towait until Pipeline (Haw) for the last heat and just hope it all keeps goingso well. It’s been an incredible year and I never thought one would cometogether like this for me. I just thank my lucky stars.

“Wow, I didn’t know,” he added, when told of the EuroSIMA bonus. “That’sunreal. It’s been a long two-weeks. We started off in perfect lefts ad endedup here. It’s not world class, but it’s definitely worthy and I’m reallystoked. When you win it’s all good.”

Padaratz, who beat the Hawaiian last WCT, felt the opposite emotion today.The 26-year-old suffered a slow start to his final campaign, but came backin the second half to post an 8.5 and ultimately only require another 7.51to catch his rival. Having missed three tournaments earlier this year due toa herniated disc in his lower back, he turned his world around during theEuropean leg to jump from 43rd all the way into 18th position on the currentratings.

“It’s good and all the respect to him,” said Padaratz afterward. “It was funand good to be out there. I’m happy with my waves and the points I gainedhere. Another final is really good for me and I’m stoked.

“Looking forward to the next event,” he continued, of the upcoming WCT inSaquarema, Brazil. “I’ve been there a few times and it’s such a good wave.Brazil is home and hopefully I can get my back better. I’m still walking andwant to be around for a few more years yet.”

Equal third today were Australians Taj Burrow and Kieren Perrow. Bothreceived US$10,000 and a big ratings boost for their best results of 2002.

Burrow, who confidently secured his semifinal berth,as stopped by anin-form Irons. The Hawaiian picked off the best single score of the day fora 9.0, together with another 8.25, leaving the West Australian searching fora combination of rides worth 10.26-points.

“Apparently he got a really good inside double-up and nailed it,” concededBurrow. “He’s surfing really good and deserves every bit of it. I was prettybummed, as I really wanted to do well in these conditions. I was confidentwith my board and myself, but Andy’s confident himself and got some pointsnow. I’ll be stoked with a third later, but not yet (laughs).”

Perrow continued a fantastic maiden WCT campaign, securing his best resultto date. Against Padaratz the 22-year-old landed an impressive aerialmaneuver toward the end, but ultimately lacked the distance and number ofturns on waves his opponent was able to secure.

“I was a bit scrappy at the start and Neco got that great wave and surfed itreally well,” said Perrow, of the Brazilian’s 8.5 ride. “I was watching frombehind and he cracked it three or four times, so he deserved to get a score.It was a good heat, but I wasn’t really having much luck. I was catching toomany small ones.

“I’m stoked,” he continued, of the semifinal finish. “I really wanted to geta good result here as I’d had three 17th’s in a row, so I’m glad to come outof that run. Going to Brazil I’m excited, as it’s on the way home and I’mlooking forward to Hawaii, too. Hopefully I can solidify and reach my goalof wanting to be in the top 10.”

Finishing equal fifth in the Billabong Pro Mundaka were Michael Lowe (Aus),Flavio Padaratz (Brz), Luke Egan (Aus) and Beau Emerton (Aus). All losttheir respective quarterfinal matches when competition commenced today.

Current ratings runner-up Egan, who held a comfortable lead against NecoPadaratz for the first half of their 25-minute decider, watched his leadevaporate as the Brazilian secured the heat’s best single ride of8.25-points. The Australia ultimately needed another 7.41 to advance.

“He caught a couple halfway out that I didn’t see, but they must have beengood scores,” reasoned Egan, of his opponents’ winning waves. “It’s a bummerfor the end of the contest to be in this surf… I would have much ratherbeen at Mundaka.”

Lowe, rated #3, was unable to answer the surfing of Burrow in the firstquarterfinal, after the natural footer posted two 8.5’s with his fast aerialmaneuvers for a convincing victory.

Emerton, who was beaten by fellow Australian Perrow today, was awarded thebest barrel of the 2002 Billabong Pro Mundaka for his perfect 10-point rideduring round one. The 27-year-old called for a minutes’ silence on stagethis afternoon during the presentation ceremony, in remembrance of thoselives lost during the recent tragedy in Bali.

Official results of the 2002 Billabong Pro Mundaka
1st Andy Irons (Haw) 22.75 – US$30,000
2nd Neco Padaratz (Brz) 21.75 – US$16,000

Semifinals (1st > final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.25 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 13.7
SF2: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 14.5 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 13.25
Quarterfinals (1st > semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Taj Burrow (Aus) 17.0 def. Michael Lowe (Aus) 11.9
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.25 def. Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 12.15
QF3: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 14.9 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 13.75
QF4: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 13.15 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.95

Ratings after Billabong Pro Mundaka 2002; WCT #9 (
1 Andy Irons (Haw) 7,052-points
2 Luke Egan (Aus) 6,066
3 Michael Lowe (Aus) 5,632
4 Joel Parkinson (Aus) 5,444
5 Daniel Wills (Aus) 5,362
6 Taj Burrow (Aus) 5,172
7 Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 5,152
8 Kalani Robb (Haw) 5,106
=9 CJ Hobgood (USA), Shea Lopez (USA) 5,048
11 Kieren Perrow (Aus) 5,028
12 Mick Fanning (Aus) 5,020
13 Damien Hobgood (USA) 4,972
14 Cory Lopez (USA) 4,956
=15 Nathan Hedge (Aus), Kelly Slater (USA) 4,508
Slater (USA) 4,508