Lowe Defeats Irons To Win Final

Friday, March 12, 2004 (Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast, Australia) AustralianMichael Lowe (Windang, NSW) today defeated the biggest names in surfing towin the Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile. The US$260,000 WorldChampionship Tournament (WCT) resumed with round four and ran right throughthe business end of the draw, climaxing at the grand finale and crowning ofthe 2004 champion.

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Clean 4ft (1.3m) righthanders persisted throughout the day at Rainbow Bay,offering plenty of room for the world’s best surfers to cut loose on.Conditions became more inconsistent during the higher tide, but this didlittle to slow down performances.

Following an amazing day of surfing, in which world #8 Lowe accounted forsix-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) in the quarterfinals andCalifornia Taylor Knox in the semis, the 26-year-old then faced reigningtwo-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw). The goofy footer wastedlittle time in the 35-minute final, posting an 8.17 on his first ride andthen snuck a great wave under his opponent’s priority to earn a daunting9.17 midway through and gain control.

Having won his last WCT title two years ago in Fiji, the victory brings hisoverall tally to three, but more significantly sees him on top of the worldratings for the first time in his career. It also generated a cool US$30,000in prizemoney.

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“I’ve seen ‘Parko’ do it and ‘Dingo’ it, and can’t deny that I was jealousof them two,” began Lowe, after being carried up the beach past thousands ofcheering supporters. “To finally get one myself is sensational. You can’tstart the year any better than beating the world champ in the final. It’sinsane.

“I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to score that wave, but it hit thebank really nice and I just kept on doing turns,” he explained of his bestride. “When they announced the 9.17 and that Andy needed a 9.51, I waspretty rapt. Kelly, Knox and Andy, three in a row… go the goofy footers, Isay (laughs).

“I think my cupboard was a bit bare, so the trophy’s going to look good. Tofinally win in Australia is sensational.”

Irons had been the form surfer of the event, posting a 9.63 and then thetournaments only perfect 10-point ride in the quarterfinals. Against Lowehis ability was never in question, but unfortunately a lack of waves andwrong decision to allow his opponent to catch a good one proved costly.Nonetheless, the runner-up finish is the Kauaian’s best ever season opener,and left him charged for the year ahead.

“I knew it was going to be tough, as he’s been getting nines all day long,”said Irons. “He got a good one on the inside of me which didn’t look verybig, but I guess it lined up and he just belted it all the way across. Whatcan I say, he’s an awesome competitor and surfed really well.Congratulations to Mick. I really wanted to win, as I’ve always wanted to dowell here, but to be in the final is awesome. I just came up one short. It’sa great start to my campaign this year, and Bells (Beach, Vic) is coming upand I really like that event. Can’t wait.”

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Equal third today were Tom Whitaker (Bronte, Aus) and Knox. Both earnedUS$10,000 and are sitting pretty on the world ratings for at least thecoming weeks.

Whitaker secured his best result to date this event, eliminating PetersonRosa (Brz) this morning and then 1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo (GoldCoast, Aus) in the quarters. Unfortunately he had a ‘shocker’ against Irons,failing to catch any decent rides. Having struggled throughout his maidenWCT season in 2003, the 24-year-old credits added training with hisfantastic finish on the Gold Coast.

“I had a blatant shocker and the wheels just fell off,” admitted Whitaker ofthe semi. “I just waited for a good one, but nothing really came. Andysnagged a couple, but I think it was more his surfing that got the goodscores.

“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy,” he added, of being third in the world. “This iseasily e biggest result I’ve had, and to take down Occy at Snapper isunreal and felt great. I copped a lot of flack from my brother and mates athome about my results last year. Luke Hitchings (WCT Alternative in 2004)and I really trained hard and came here excited. Just got to keep it goingnow.”

Knox, who finished last year rated 7th with three semifinal berths to hiscredit, appeared a dark horse leading into the final rounds. His match withLowe proved extremely inconsistent however, and the pair sat waiting mostthe clash. Holding advantage with an eight in his tally, the Californianmistakenly allowed his opponent to catch a good wave near the end and therelost his chance of a finals berth.

“I’m a little frustrated, but I can’t be that bummed,” reasoned Knox. “I hada couple of close heats and just thought there would be more waves in thatone. I had priority and let him go that wave, so it’s my fault. He onlyneeded a small score, and letting him go was a mistake in hindsight. Thisresult is definitely better than most years at the start though.”

Finishing equal fifth in the Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile wereOcchilupo, West Australian Jake Paterson, Slater, and Brazilian VictorRibas.

Slater was in devastating form this morning, posting a near-perfect 9.93 andthe second highest combined total of the event with a 19.03 total. AgainstLowe he opened with a strong 8.0 score, but once his opponent locked in acouple of nine plus rides, the Floridian required a combination of wavesworth 18.58-points. Having finished equal 9th in the past two Quiksilver Proevents, today’s result was an improvement and will go a long way towardsthis year’s world title race, but nonetheless the 32-year-old was clearlyfrustrated.

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“Huge (opportunity missed). Absolutely,” acknowledge Slater. “I’m reallyfrustrated, as most of the top guys you expect to be up there, went downearly. I made a huge mistake by taking the first wave in a set, which I’veknown not to do this whole contest. As soon as Mick scored a nine I wasshooting for a 9.5, and that might have thrown me off a bit, as I wasprobably a bit too patient.

“It’s an interesting year now, as you’ve got ‘Parko’, Taj and Mick (Fanning)all starting without a great result, so they’re going to have to catch up,”he added. “If you’re going for a world title fifth’s about as bad as youwant to do in any event and I’m right there on the border.”

Ribas dominated his match with West Australian Taj Burrow this morning,gaining revenge on a couple of losses last season, but then lost anextremely close heat to Knox in the final seconds, as his opponent pickedoff a good wave and turned it into a much needed 8.5 score.

“I’m really happy to make it this far,” said Ribas. “My best two resultslast year I was beaten by Taj, so pretty stoked to beat him, as he’s a verygood competitor and hard to beat.”

Defending Quiksilver Pro champion Dean Morrison (Gold Coast, Aus) waseliminated by Paterson in round four this morning.

The Torquay Mineral Water ‘Time Tunnel’ award was won by Quiksilver Trialswinner Shaun Gossmann (Gold Coast, Aus) for his amazing 13-second barrel inround one. The South African born surfer collected an additional AUD$5,000pay packet.

The Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile marked the first event on the2004 Foster’s ASP men’s World Championship Tour (WCT).

Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile
1st Michael Lowe (Aus) 17.34 – US$30,000
2nd Andy Irons (Haw) 14.16 – US$16,000

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.16 def. Tom Whitaker (Aus) 2.34
SF2: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.07 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 12.9

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 13.77 def. Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.26
QF2: Andy Irons (Haw) 19.63 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 12.0
QF3: Michael Lowe (Aus) 18.57 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.67
QF4: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.83 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 15.37

Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
H1: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 15.83 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.76
H2: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 17.17 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.34
H3: Jake Paterson (Aus) 13.66 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 13.5
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.07 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 16.53
H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.03 def. Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 15.17
H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 12.84 def. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 11.07
H7: Victor Ribas (Brz) 17.6 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 13.84
H8: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 10.0

Official Ratings after WCT Event# 1/12
1. Michael Lowe (Aus) 1,200-points
2. Andy Irons (Haw) 1,032
=3. Tom Whitaker (Aus); Taylor Knox (USA) – 876
=5. Mark Occhilupo (Aus); Jake Paterson (Aus); Kelly Slater (USA); VictorRibas (Brz) – 732
=9. Peterson Rosa (Brz); Joel Parkinson (Aus); Dean Morrison (Aus); CJHobgood (USA); Guilherme Herdy (Brz); Neco Padaratz (Brz); Taj Burrow (Aus);Paulo Moura (Brz) – 600
nox (USA) 15.83 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 15.37

Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
H1: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 15.83 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.76
H2: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 17.17 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.34
H3: Jake Paterson (Aus) 13.66 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 13.5
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.07 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 16.53
H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.03 def. Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 15.17
H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 12.84 def. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 11.07
H7: Victor Ribas (Brz) 17.6 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 13.84
H8: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 10.0

Official Ratings after WCT Event# 1/12
1. Michael Lowe (Aus) 1,200-points
2. Andy Irons (Haw) 1,032
=3. Tom Whitaker (Aus); Taylor Knox (USA) – 876
=5. Mark Occhilupo (Aus); Jake Paterson (Aus); Kelly Slater (USA); VictorRibas (Brz) – 732
=9. Peterson Rosa (Brz); Joel Parkinson (Aus); Dean Morrison (Aus); CJHobgood (USA); Guilherme Herdy (Brz); Neco Padaratz (Brz); Taj Burrow (Aus);Paulo Moura (Brz) – 600