Friday, November 28, 2003 (Sunset Beach, Haw) Hawaiian Joel Centeio todaywon the Rip Curl Cup Trials. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament(WCT) commenced this morning with its 32-man Trials showdown, progressingthrough until four finalists emerged to secure wildcard positions into theRip Curl Cup main event.
Solid 10-12 ft (4m) surf hammered the lineup throughout the day. Some epicbarrels exploded on the inside bowl section, while bigger cleanup sets alsowashed through and caused nightmares for those in their path. Many boardspaid the ultimate price and left the beach in multiple pieces.
In this afternoon’s 30-minute decider, Centeio held off Tahiti’s ManoaDrollet and fellow Hawaiians Sean Moody and Love Hodel, respectively. The20-year-old posted a 6.17 earlier on, and then maintained a slender lead.The former world amateur champion is now in his first World ChampionshipTournament and faces defending Rip Curl Cup winner Joel Parkinson (GoldCoast), together with fellow Australian Phil MacDonald in heat #6 of roundone.
“I woke up this morning and never thought I’d be here,” said Centeio, oftaking out the Trials. “I just took it heat by heat and came out on top.It’s great.
“It’s new territory,” he added, of facing the WCT competitors. “I’m theunderdog – the young guy coming up, so hopefully I can go out there withoutany pressure and beat those guys. After surfing a bunch of heats today Iknow what’s going on out there, so hopefully it pays off.”
Drollet proved the day’s standout, posting a 9.5-barrel ride first heat, andthen another 9.1 tube in the semifinals. The Tahitian eliminated formerworld #2 Shane Beschen (CA, USA) and 2001 Rip Curl Cup winner Myles Padaca(Haw) this morning, along with 1993 world champ Derek Ho (Haw) en-route tothe final, but unfortunately wasn’t able to lock in another high scoringride once there. The 26-year-old will challenge six-time world champ andcurrent ratings leader Kelly Slater (FL, USA), as well as Jake Paterson(West Aus) in a highly anticipated round one match-up.
“Wow,” exclaimed Drollet, upon hearing his upcoming opponents. “That’s goingto be very interesting. If I get good waves like I did today I’ll have achance, but we’ll see. I’ll do my best, but it’s an honor to be surfingagainst Kelly Slater. I remember surfing against him a couple of years agoand it was amazing, so hopefully this time I’ll be more of a challenge forhim (laughs). I don’t have any pressure and am just stoked to be there. If Ibeat him it’s good for me, but if I don’t, well, it’s Kelly Slater.”
Moody faces current #3 Mick Fanning (Gold Coast) and Paulo Moura (Brz),while Hodel will contest an all-Hawaiian heat in the main event againstreigning world champ Andy Irons (Kauai) and Kalani Robb. The experiencedSunset surfer is definitely a major threat in what will be one of thehardest opening round heats.
“It’s a dream,” said Hodel, of reaching the main event. “I don’t care who Ihave, just as long as I get some open faced waves I’ll be happy. I knowwhere to sit out here and experience helps, but hey, I’m against Andy Ironsand Kalani Robb, and both of those guys are incredible surfers.”
Two additional wildcard positions were given to Hawaiian Rip Curl teamriders Pancho Sullivan and Jamie O’Brien. Sullivan will face current #4 TajBurrow (West Aus) and fellow Australian Trent Munro (Scott’s Head), whileO’Brien is against current #5 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay, Aus) and VictorRibas (Brz).
Recent WCT qualifier Bruce Irons (Kauai, Haw) unfortunately missed hisflight from Kauai to Oahu, and therefore a chance at gaining some addedexperience prior to his maiden campaign in 2004. Ian Walsh replaced theKauaian, but bowed out first heat and then snapped his surfboard whilereturning to the beach in the heavy shore break.
Bethany Hamilton was among the strong beach crowd at Sunset and presentedCenteio with his trophy on stage. The 13-year-old survived a horrific sharkattack on Kauaai three weeks ago and lost her left arm, but has become aninspiration to all with a courageous recovery and positive outlook. She evenre-entered the water and surfed in front of hundreds of cheering friends andadmirers at home on Kauai a few days ago, and will no doubt continue toovercome her setback with incredible determination and support. A specialfundraiser has been organized for tomorrow night at Waimea Falls, withproceeds helping to pay for medical costs.
Round one of the Rip Curl Cup is expected to begin tomorrow morning at 8am(local time), conditions pending.
Live heat scores, video and audio commentary are on www.ripcurl.com duringcompetition hours, with information available in four different languages,including English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
For full coverage of the Triple Crown of Surfing:www.triplecrownofsurfing.com
Official results of the Rip Curl Cup Trials
1st Joel Centeio (Haw) 10.17; Manoa Drollet (Tah) 9.57; Sean Moody (Haw)8.43; Love Hodel (Haw) 6.7
Semifinals (1st, 2nd>Final; 3rd=5th, 4th=7th)
SF1: Manoa Drollet (Tah) 13.6; Joel Centeio (Haw) 20.5; Nathan Carroll (Haw)6.44; Derek Ho (Haw) 4.33
SF2: Love Hodel (Haw); Sean Moody (Haw); Jamie Sterling (Haw); Travis Lynch(Aus)
Quarterfinals (1st, 2nd>Semifinals; 3rd=9th, 4th=13th)
QF1: Joel Centeio (Haw) 14.84; Derek Ho (Haw) 10.33; Ross Williams (Haw)5.9; Brian Toth (PRico) 4.67
QF2: Manoa Drollet (Tah) 13.67; Nathan Carroll (Haw) 11.66; Bruno Santos(Brz) 10.17; Marcus Hickman (Haw) 8.77
QF3: Sean Moody (Haw) 12.67; Love Hodel (Haw) 7.57; Liam McNamara (Haw)6.97; Pablo Gutierrez (Spn) 5.76
QF4: Travis Lynch (Aus) 12.16; Jamie Sterling (Haw) 9.5; Troy Brooks (Aus)8.4; Fred Patacchia (Haw) 5.8
Round One (1st, 2nd>Quarterfinals; 3rd=17th, 4th=25th)
H1: Ross Williams (Haw) 13.17; Brian Toth (PRico) 9.54; Roy Powers (Haw)8.1; Kaipo Jaquias (Haw) 7.0
H2: Derek Ho (Haw) 11.46; Joel Centeio (Haw) 9.6; Mikala Jones (Haw) 7.57;Zane Harrison (Aus) 7.04
H3: Marcus Hickman (Haw) 9.77; Bruno Santos (Brz); Charlie Carroll (Haw)7.83; Jesse Merle-Jones (Haw) 6.8
H4: Manoa Drollet (Tah) 11.33; Nathan Carroll (Haw) 10.73; Shane Beschen(USA) 9.6; Myles Padaca (Haw) 4.33
H5: Sean Moody (Haw) 13.33; Love Hodel (Haw) 9.16; Ian Walsh (Haw) 7.14;Clint Kimmins (Aus) 6.7
H6: Pablo Gutierrez (Spn) 11.17; Liam McNamara (Haw) 9.83; Gary Elkerton(Aus) 5.6; Kekoa Bacalso (Haw) 5.5
H7: Fred Patacchia (Haw) 10.84; Jamie Sterling (Haw) 8.23; Makua Rothman(Haw) 4.64; Jason Shibata (Haw) 3.24
H8: Troy Brooks (Aus) 12.67; Travis Lynch (Aus) 6.43; Gabe Kling (USA) 6.33;Brian Pacheco (Haw) 2.23