June 11th 2003 (O’Neill Europe) The O’Neill Deep Blue Open was once again blessed with perfect contest conditions at the break of Lohi’s enabling the conclusion of heat three and the commencement of round 4. The moody sky and thunderous rainsqualls that had threatened the events progress at first light quickly vanished and by early morning, perfect, near carbon copy conditions of the previous days surf were once again on offer with consistent, glassy,2- 3 meter waves adorning the reef. As the field narrowed and the stakes increased the performance bar was once again upped.
Round 4 began at midday. On a pushing tide the left-hander of Lohi’s was overflowing with juice as the reef was continuously bombarded with rippable sets. With waves aplenty for much of the afternoon’s heats the competition was fiercer than ever.
New Zealand natural footer Mazz Quinn practically made himself untouchable in heat 8 of round 4 racking up the highest combined score of the day. With a 9.7 and a 9.5 under his belt second place competitor Eneko Acero from Spain was left needing a huge combination of scores to take the top spot.
“That was almost a perfect heat for me Said Mazz. “It was pretty heavy out there for sure. The waves are so good out there all you have to do is wait and they’ll come. It’s my first heat of the contest so I’m glad to get it out of the way. Hopefully I’ll get abit of momentum going for the next rounds, he added.
USA’s Dean Randazzo had a scorching 25 minutes in heat 7 of round 4. Using the full 25 minutes Randazzo jettisoned the competition on his last roll of the dice ensuring his presence in the final 64 places available in round 5.
“It’s typical for me that there is a lull in my heat. Said Randazzo “I was sitting out there fishing as usual. Fortunately I had already bagged a couple of really nice waves and then the last one lined up really well so I gave it everything I had. The conditions here have been epic! he added.
Hawaii’s Bruce Irons added the finishing touches to an amazing day of surfing taking out heat 10 of round 4 with an awesome display of back hand tube riding right from the offset. Shortly after another lull hit leaving the other competitors wave-less and facing the daunting task of trying to top Bruce’s massive 9.3 score. Irons went on to seal his victory with another huge 8.7. The young Hawaiian faces Chris Davidson (Aus) and Guilherme Herdy (Brz) and Blair Stewart in his 5th round clash tomorrow.
“It was a slow heat but I got a good set and got barrelled. That started me off and I got another good one at the end. Said Irons. “The waves are better than last year a lot more consistent so there is a lot less hassling in the line-up. When there’s a lull like that you have a lot of time to think and sometimes I nearly psyche myself out but I managed to keep it together out there.
Australia’s Damon Harvey played the waiting game well in his heat 9 appointment. Keeping a cool head smashing the lip with conviction to win the heat. He now heads a strong Australian contingent including Kurt Nyholm, Damon Nichols, Matt Bemrose and Adrian Buchan into the 5th round.
“It started to get abit inconsistent but I manage to get a couple of good ones so I’m pretty happy with that said Harvey “In lulls and situations like that you have to just relax and think positively. Just hope a wave comes your way other wise you get all tense and that’s not going to help you. I’m feeling quite good out there so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
The Brazilian contingent continued to shine throughout the days contest with Tanio Barreto, James Santos, Jihad Kohdr and Pedro Henrique joining the round 5 surfers tomorrow
Great Britain’s Sam Lamiroy also progressed to round 5 during the afternoon’s competition. Trailing in 3rd for most of the heat and requiring a high scoring 7 to progress Lamiroy paddled deep and played the waiting game. In the fading moments he meticulously plucked off a set wave throwing buckets of spray as he aggressively attacked the turquoise lip as he raced through to the outside section. Banking a huge 8.2 score for his efforts and ensuring a place in round 5.
“I knew I needed a good wave to get through and nothing appeared for what seemed like ages. Said Lamiroy “I kicked out of a few waves when I knew they weren’t going to offer the high seven I needed and then managed to get that last one. I’m so happy with that. In the past I used to panic. Now I just sit there and relax and it seems to be a tactic that’s working, he added.
Taking to the water for the remaining heats of Round 4 tomorrow is a host of standouts from this mornings round 3 heats. Amongst the distinguished surfers is Great Britain’s Alan Stokes. Stokes racked up the highest individual wave score of the 3rd round when he pocketed a massive 9.67 on his opening ride.
” I can’t believe it! said an ecstatic Stokes “The current is really strong out there so I only got two waves so I just got lucky I guess. The 9 point score was just a perfect wave! I was really nervous and then I saw the wave wall up and I though it was going to barrel and the next minute I’m in the tube. So stoked!
Patrick Bevan from France is back in the line up tomorrow in heat 13 of Round 4 after he stormed his 3rd round heat. Bevan posted a 9.27 score for his fourth wave of the heat leaving Australian Dan Digman requiring a combination of rides to remove him from his top spot.
“I’m really happy because I’m surfing really well! Said Bevan “I was really focussed and relaxed out there today. Hopefully I can continue like that
As another day of epic surfing at the O’Neill Deep Blue Open concludes attention on the Maldivian atolls shifts towards tomorrows contest. The classic swell is predicted to remain consistently peeling from the Indian Ocean reefs for the remainder of the week and with the higher seeded WQS surfers and a handful of WCT (World Championship Tour) chargers entering the mix performance levels are expected to boost of the scale.