Irons Leads Quarterfinal Charge At The Quiksilver Pro

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
www.aspworldtour.com
2003 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Irons Leads Quarterfinal Charge

June 2, 2003 (Tavarua & Namotu Islands, Fiji) Reigning world champion AndyIrons (Kauai, Haw) continued his devastating form to charge into theQuiksilver Pro quarterfinals. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament(WCT) commenced with a Foster’s Expression Session this morning, beforecompleting round four heats with live audio and video broadcast viawww.quiksilver.com.

Perfect 6ft (2m) waves were again on offer at Cloudbreak, with larger setscoming through the lineup regularly. Unfortunately the slight offshoresouthwest winds this morning swung onshore and became gustier just prior tothe quarterfinals were scheduled to start. After an initial period on hold,organizers and remaining surfers elected to hold off the final rounds formore favorable conditions.

Irons, who yesterday posted the only perfect 10-point ride of this year’sQuiksilver Pro, proved he had plenty left in reserve for today’s anticipatedclash against Californian powerhouse Taylor Knox. Surfing with added speed,confidence and drive, the 24-year-old Kauaian created an early lead, whichhe then added to with a near-perfect 9.7 and then an 8.5 for the day’s bestsingle and combined heat scores. With an awesome backhand display of tuberiding and critical lip bashes, he secured his best result to date atCloudbreak and has increased his lead on the current ratings.

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“I’m really happy and stoked to make it,” said Irons. “I think I surf a lotbetter when I’m against the ‘CT guys just cause I’m used to being againstthem, whereas the wildcards rattle me (referring to yesterday’s match withwildcard Troy Brooks). Now I’m past the 9th (place) round into the quarters,so I feel really good. Waves are super fun and I lucked into the right onesthat allowed barrels.

“I’ve never made it this far here, so to have a 5th already is great,” hecontinued. “It’s a good result and I’m stoked, especially with Kelly(Slater) not being here so I can increase my lead a bit more. It should be agood battle all year and I’m just taking it heat by heat and trying not toget too far ahead of myself.”

He’ll meet Shane Powell (Avoca, Aus) in the quarterfinals, after heeliminated two-time Quiksilver Pro champion (1997 & 2000) and world #3 LukeEgan (Gold Coast, Aus) with another impressive backhand performance.

“‘Powelly’ is one of my favorite surfers, so it’ll be really good,” addedIrons of the upcoming clash. “Looks like he’s in really good form, and has aboard that’s really fast, so I’ve just got to hope I get the better waves.I’m sure it’ll be a good heat.”

Powelly, a 14-year tour veteran and former world #2 (1994), read conditionswell and selected waves that allowed big maneuvers, as opposed to waitingfor the barrels his opponent hunted unsuccessfully.

“I can’t even remember the last time I’ve made the quarters,” said Powell,with a big smile. “I’m rapt. After he had priority at the start, I thought Ibetter just take what he doesn’t want, and it paid off as I got a 7.5 andmanaged to rack up another wave. ‘Louie’ sat waiting a bit long and ran outof time.”

Defending Quiksilver Pro champion Mick Lowe (Windang, NSW, Aus) ended thegreat run of WCT replacement surfer Beau Emerton (Gold Coast, Aus). Havinglost to him in Tahiti last event, Lowe was pleased to gain revenge and moveone step closer with a couple of strong opening rides. Emerton was unluckynot to find any good rides until the end – when an epic tube presenteditself – but unfortunately he emerged from the huge pit bodysurfing down theface of the wave and was then rolled along the reef for added insult.

“He got my twice last event in Tahiti, so when that final hooter finallysounded and I was in front, I was pretty happy,” explained Lowe. “I waslucky to get my first wave, as it was my highest scoring ride. It didn’toffer a tube, but I waable to do some nice turns. I’m just glad Beau wasout of rhythm, as I didn’t particularly have a good heat. I got the winthough, so that’s the main thing.”

He’ll now face last year’s runner-up Shea Lopez (FL, USA) in a rematch oftheir 2002 final, since he overcame yesterday’s standout Michael Campbell(Aus) in round four. The Floridian gained some fresh reef cuts during thebout, but is anxious to challenge Lowe again nonetheless.

“I took off on a real wide one and drove through a long barrel, but justcouldn’t make it,” explained Lopez, of the situation that led to his cuts.”I came up, and the next wave sucked all the water off the reef and justrolled me backwards and spun me like a ball. I was trying to use my board toblock myself from the reef. The wave finally flipped me over though, and Ihit my head and my back and my legs. The main spot was my left shoulderblade. Luckily I had the jersey on, so it didn’t cut me too badly. The worstpart was the bruise and I can’t really move my arm right now. Thankfully Ijust need my legs to surf (laughs).

“Can’t wait to go up against Lowey now,” he added. “Try and get him backfrom last year. I’m real excited about that.”

World #7 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay, Aus) goes up against world #5 MickFanning (Gold Coast, Aus) in the first quarterfinal, after they accountedfor Damien Hobgood (FL, USA) and Danny Wills (Byron Bay, Aus) in theirrespective heats today. Fanning, who has already secured two semifinalberths this year, fought back against Wills to now be on track for yetanother great result.

“It was my goal to make the quarters, so I’ve done that now and am prettystoked,” explained Fanning. “Bring it on.

“I don’t know when it broke, but it must have been early on,” he added, uponinspection of his newly creased surfboard. “The sea lice were ridiculousthen too, just huge patches. They sting so badly and it’s not good whenyou’re sitting out there waiting for a wave.”

Australian Chris Davidson continued his great charge though the QuiksilverPro, eliminating good mate and fellow Narrabeen surfer Nathan Hedge in aclassic match-up. The pair has grown up surfing together, but today markedthe first time they had met head-to-head in a WCT heat. ‘Davo’ announced hisintentions early with some amazing backhand maneuvers, earning a spot in thequarterfinals for his best result in years. He’s against Cory Lopez, whotook out fellow Floridian and 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood in the day’s lastdecider.

“I caught a couple nice ones, but knew I had to go upside down on mybackhand to beat him,” reasoned Davidson afterwards. “It’s always great tobeat ‘Hoggy’. He’s been one of my favorite surfers since we were groms. He’smatured into one of the most powerful surfers there is, up with ‘Louie’ and’Occy’. I couldn’t let him beat me – old daddy Davo here had to get theupper hand on the little bugger. I would have felt like an old veteran if hegot me (laughs). Just stoked to win and be in the quarterfinals.”

The Foster’s Expression Session saw a handful of the world’s best controlthe lineup prior to the first heat this morning for 30-minutes. AustralianDanny Wills (Byron Bay) secured US$2,000 on his opening ride for the bestwave/barrel, while 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood (FL, USA) collectedUS$1,000 for the second best tube during the display.

“It was a bigger wave which swung a little wider,” explained Wills, happy tocollect the bonus cash. “It ended up throwing pretty wide and was a goodbarrel. I was pretty lucky, and it’s unreal that Foster’s put up the moneyfor it. Helps pay for the trip, so thanks to them.”

Live audio and video broadcast is available on www.quiksilver.com.

Quiksilver Pro Round Four Results (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th, receivesUS$5,000)
H1: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 9.27 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 9.0
H2: Mick Fanning (Aus) 14.43 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 12.84
H3: Shane Powell (Aus) 14.83 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 9.5
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 18.2 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.47
H5: Michael Lowe (Aus) 16.0 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 10.44
H6: Shea Lopez (USA) 15.0 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 5.1
H7: Chris Davidson (Aus) 14.5 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 10.5
H8: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.5 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.13
Upcoming Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th, receives US$8,000)
QF1: Kieren Perrow (Aus) vs. Mick Fanning (Aus)
QF2: Shane Powell (Aus) vs. Andy Irons (Haw)
QF3: Michael Lowe (Aus) vs. Shea Lopez (USA)
QF4: Chris Davidson (Aus) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)
18.2 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.47
H5: Michael Lowe (Aus) 16.0 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 10.44
H6: Shea Lopez (USA) 15.0 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 5.1
H7: Chris Davidson (Aus) 14.5 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 10.5
H8: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.5 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.13
Upcoming Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th, receives US$8,000)
QF1: Kieren Perrow (Aus) vs. Mick Fanning (Aus)
QF2: Shane Powell (Aus) vs. Andy Irons (Haw)
QF3: Michael Lowe (Aus) vs. Shea Lopez (USA)
QF4: Chris Davidson (Aus) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)