Irons Dominates Amazing Day Of Surfing

May 13, 2003 (Teahupoo, Tahiti). Reigning world and defending Billabong ProTeahupoo champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) today dominated the field with anear-perfect round three performance. Amazing surfing unfolded throughoutthe day, and organizers of the US$250,000 World Championship Tournament(WCT) expect a swell increase overnight to produce epic waves for thecompletion of this year’s event tomorrow afternoon.

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Clean 4-6 ft (1.5-2m) surf was on offer at Teahupoo, with an ideal southdirection providing long barrels along the shallow reef break.

Irons faced local wildcard Hira Terinatoofa in one of the day’s mostanticipated clashes. The lead swung following opening rides, but the Kauaianthen emerged from a superb backhand barrel ride and executed a searingcutback to receive a 9.7 and lead he retained. While his Tahitian opponentcontinued to bridge the gap with long forehand tubes, Irons’ then posted thesecond perfect 10 of the 2003 Billabong Pro Teahupoo for the highestcombined tally so far with 19.7 out of a possible 20-points.

“Catching that early score definitely helped my patience,” began Irons afterhis awesome display. “I knew if I got another one Hira would need a ‘combo’,but he caught two really good waves as well. He’s a super good surfer outthere and could have gotten nines. It’s always dangerous against thewildcards as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it was nodifferent with Hira. He had a lot of support out there and tried hishardest. I had to really turn it on and stoked those waves came to me.

“It sucked off the reef really nice and had a great section,” he elaborated,of his flawless hands-free barrel ride. “Actually seemed like a differentday with the way it broke super clean and without any bumps. I was going tograb my rail, but there was so much room I just stood up and went with ituntil the end and then did a nice cutback. Really stoked, as it was the bestwave I’ve caught in a couple of days.”

Terinatoofa, who celebrates his 24th birthday today, escaped one extremelydifficult tube ride to get the local crowd cheering, but ultimately requireda combination of scores worth 11.7-points.

“It was a really hard heat and I’m stoked just to have gotten to surfagainst Andy,” said Terinatoofa. “A great experience for me. I lost, but tosurf against him was a dream. It’s my birthday, so I’m going to go off nowand have fun (laughs).”

Irons will next face 2001 event winner Cory Lopez (FL, USA), after heeliminated West Australian Jake Paterson today.

“That’s going to be a killer heat,” added Irons of the upcoming bout. “Ican’t wait. Cory and I have had a few match-ups, but we’re really goodfriends. He’s super dangerous and has won out here before, so hopefullythere are a lot of waves for us.”

Air Tahiti Nui VZ Trials runner-up Conan Hayes (Haw) then created the day’sbiggest upset, eliminating world #2 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Aus). TheHawaiian – a former WCT member – picked off the first five rides of thedecider to create a strong lead. ‘Parko’ tried his best at a comeback, butthe ocean didn’t co-operate with waves of the same quality.

“Being a goofy footer, I could find the barrels a little bit easier,”reasoned Hayes. “I’ve got a couple of spots I sit out there and I feelcomfortable here. This is really good for me and I want to keep it going.All my best friends are still on tour, and since I’m not anymore, it’sreally good to be here with everybody and mix it up. I don’t really have anyexpectations, as anything can happen out there. I’m just taking it wave bywave.”

Parkinson finished runner-up in the previous WCT in Australia, but wasforced to settle with an equal 17th today. Nonetheless, it remains his bestresult at Teahupoo.

“I just started badly,” acknowledged Parkinson. “I was watching the wavesAndy got in the heat before and wanted those, but they never came. Conan gotthose early inside ones and pretty much shut the gate on .”

Australians Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen, NSW) and WCT replacement Beau Emerton(Gold Coast, QLD) were both standouts this afternoon. Hedge trailed anin-form Shea Lopez (FL, USA), but then came alive in the dying minutes ofthe nail-biter with a 9.47 and then his first perfect 10 from theinternational judging panel. In what proved one of the highest scoring andmost dramatic heats ever surfed at Teahupoo, the pair were actually throwingaway eight plus rides following their respective two best scores.

“The waves just turned on for us,” began an overwhelmed Hedge. “They werejust hitting the reef in the right place. This contest more than any – evenif you need a 10, it’s possible. We were just going tit-for-tat. I saw Sheacome out of one from so deep. When I got a 9.47 near the end I thought itmight be have been my last chance, but I still had five minutes to go andanother bomb came. I was even deeper and somehow I came out for my first 10ever! I was that buzzed. I’ve just got to try and keep my feet on theground.”

Brazilian Danilo Costa continued his giant killing run over Dean Morrison(Gold Coast, Aus). The Australian won the first WCT this year, but wasunable to find waves to match Costa’s tube rides this morning, ultimatelyrequiring a 9.27 and finished equal 17th.

“There wasn’t many waves during the heat, but I was lucky to get an 8.0 withpriority,” explained Costa. “After that I just stayed relaxed, and at theend scored a 7.1 to make him need more than nine points. I had priority andfelt confident, but you never know what will happen at Teahupoo. I’m stokedto make round four.”

2001 world champion CJ Hobgood (FL, USA) dominated the day’s first matchagainst Toby Martin (Dee Why, Aus). The Floridian has finished runner-uptwice at Teahupoo previously, and surfed a great heat this morning to easilyprogress into round four. He’ll next meet an equally in-form Kalani Robb(Haw), who posted one of event’s highest combined totals of 18.77-pointswith a stunning barrel riding performance over Paulo Moura (Brz).

“I just got into rhythm out there,” said Hobgood. “Looks like I’ll be goingagainst Kalani next, and we surfed against each other in the quarterfinalslast year, and he beat me. I know it will be a hard heat, so I just want tokeep that rhythm going.”

Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) controlled his match againstRichie Lovett (Manly, Aus). Both broke surfboards during the exchange, butthe Floridian’s opening ride worth 8.93-points highlighted hisdetermination, as he maneuvered through a difficult barrel and then executedtwo critical backhand snaps on the inside section. He will now face world #3Luke Egan (Gold Coast, Aus), after the powerful goofy footer accounted forFlavio Padaratz (Brz).

“It kind of went my way,” said Slater. “I didn’t do anything great, but hada couple by the midway point to pull ahead and stayed there.

“Sounds good,” he added, of facing Egan. “I want to get about five wins backon him (laughs).”

Internet users are able to watch all the surfing action live from theBillabong Pro Teahupoo. Simply log onto http://www.BillabongPro.com andenjoy the show.

Upcoming Billabong Pro Teahupoo Men’s Third Round (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th,receives US$4,000)
H1: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.84 def. Toby Martin (Aus) 5.77
H2: Kalani Robb (Haw) 18.77 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 16.0
H3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.54 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 4.5
H4: Danilo Costa (Brz) 15.1 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 7.76
H5: Luke Egan (Aus) 16.84 def. Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 14.83
H6: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.03 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 9.76
H7: Cory Lopez (USA) 17.9 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 7.97
H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 19.7 def. Hira Terinatoofa (Tah) 15.67
H9: Conan Hayes (Tah) 15.33 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 11.23
H10: Shane Dorian (Haw) 11.0 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 8.17
H11: Taj Burrow (Aus) 15.84 def. Shane Powell (Aus) 6.2
H12: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 19.47 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 18.54
H13: Beau Emerton (Aus) 18.37 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.87
H14: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.8 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 12.83
H15: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 15.6 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 13.0
H16: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.34 def. Daniel Wills (Aus) 11.17
opez (USA) 18.54
H13: Beau Emerton (Aus) 18.37 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 16.87
H14: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.8 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 12.83
H15: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 15.6 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 13.0
H16: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.34 def. Daniel Wills (Aus) 11.17