Event: O’Neill Deep Blue Open
Dates: 9th – 15th June 2003
Location: Republic of the Maldives – North MalĂ© Atoll
Rating: 5-star Prime World Qualifying Series Event
Prize Purse: US$100,000
DAY 5 – JUNE 13th 2003MALDIVES EXTENDS THE WARMEST WELCOME TO THE O’NEILL DEEP BLUE OPEN
June 12th 2003 (O’Neill Europe) The O’Neill Deep Blue Open today entered the penultimate stages of the competition finishing the day’s proceedings knocking on the door of the quarterfinals. Proceedings were delayed first thing this morning as the hulhangu, otherwise known as the South West Monsoon, shed another payload of torrential rain and unleashed gale force winds on the islands. By midmorning it had vanished and the ASP Australia event officials made the call for the event to commence. Lohi’s, the focus wave of the contest so far, was inconsistent, however, it still managed to dish up the occasional, perfect, doodle book waves witnessed in the earlier stages of the contest.
Of the 40 surfers that started the day with sights set on the quarters only 16 would make it through. The majority bowing out of the 2003 event by nightfall. With everything to play for the stops were pulled out and day 5 of the Maldives contest recorded a barrage of sharply contested high scoring heats.
O’Neill team rider Jarrad Howse from Australia was the first to snatch a spot in the quarters. The huge scoring heat set the precedent for the remaining 7 heats to follow with Howse, Luke Hitchings (Aus) and Victor Ribas (Brz) taking turns to lead the heat as the scores were exchanged. In the final five minutes Howse racked up a high scoring 8 to slip into first place with Victor Ribas taking second.
“Oh it’s so good to make it through!” said Howse. “It’s my first quarters in a year so I’m really happy. I just waited and only caught two waves but they were both high scorers so I guess I was lucky. It was kind of like Australia versus Brazil out there, it’s a bummer that Luke (Hitchings) didn’t make it. The waves are inconsistent and it gives you almost too much time to think. Sometimes a few negative thoughts slip into your head so you have to stay focussed, regroup and wait for that next set.” he added.
2002 Deep Blue Open runner up Toby Martin from Australia picked up where Jarrad Howse left off bagging himself a spot in the final 16. Opening with a 7-point ride, Martin went into overdrive, quickly bolstering his tally with a rapid-fire approach to his heat. Fellow countryman Phil MacDonald also progresses.
“It was a good heat. I was lucky with waves out there so that helped.” Said Martin. “I was quite relaxed surfing with my friends and having a good time. I waited for waves and put in lots of turns. It’s pretty nice when it’s like that. I had a good result last year but I feel I have a lot more confidence this year. I feel a lot more relaxed in my surfing and I kind of just let that do the talking.”
Rodrigo Dornelles, a runner up in the first Maldives event back in 2001, sealed his quarterfinal spot in heat three setting the wheels in motion for yet another devastating day of Brazilian brilliance. A highly focussed and motivated Neco Padaratz also progresses however the stand out South American performances today was left to Raoni Monteiro clocking the first perfect 10 score of the contest. At mid afternoon and with massive support from the amassed crowd Raoni worked a set wave down the line for the perfect score. A further 8.87 sealed his deserved place in the quarters.
“That was an amazing heat.” Said Monteiro. ” Beto (Fernandes) made it through also so its turning into an amazing contest for the Brazilians.The wave I caught for the ten was just perfect from start to finish I was so stoked! II’m looking forward to tomorrow.” He added.
On course for a repeat of his big result at the 2002 Deep Blue Open was Australian Trent Munro. Munro’s ultra fluid backhand attack made him the standout performer in his heat 5 match up with Hawaii’s Bruce Irons and fellow countrymen Matt Bemrose and Chris Davidson. Trent next enters the Deep Blue equation in quarter final 3 tomorrow along with Hawaii’s Bruce Irons.
“I was lucky with my first two waves because there wasn’t many waves about for a while but all of a sudden the ocean pretty much didn’t stop handing us waves so I can’t complain.” Said Munro. “Your never safe until the end of the heat when you’re up against guys like that! Anything can happen so you have to keep focussed for the whole 30 minutes. I was quite relaxed, concentrating on how I was doing and basically just going for surf. It paid off!” He added.
Frenchman Patrick Beven’s momentum showed no signs of slowing. Picking up from where he left off yesterday Beven again slipped into the driving seat of heat 7 taking firm control from the outset. Continuously topping up his score with a succession solid rides the sole European contender left in the frame sealed proceedings with a backhand barrel. Shane Beschen from the USA took second. Both meet again in quarterfinal 4.
“It’s getting harded and harder to make it through the heats.” Said Beven. “Everyone is surfing so well. I’m surfing at about 90 percent out there so I think I have a lot more to give. In that heat I sat on the peak and just was lucky to get the good set waves. My confidence and motivation is growing with every heat so I’m looking forward to getting back out there!”
Australia’s Mick Campbell and Ben Bourgeois from the USA filled the final two positions for the quarterfinals. Campbell, surfing on his forehand made his intentions clear from the very start. Cranking hard of the bottom and snapping through a rapid succession whiplash vertical re-entries to take the heat.
“That was hard work I’m knackered!” Said Campbell. “I just wanted to get two good waves and I got a few early high scores and after that I could just relax, surf and have fun. It’s really hot out there this is my first time in the Maldives so I didn’t know what to expect but the place is beautiful and the waves have been amazing. It’s a pretty awesome place for a contest.” He added.
During the late evening freesurf sessions the leading edge of a much-anticipated new swell began to wrap its way around the reef at Lohi’s. With such a promising outlook fingers are crossed that the Maldives will once again turn it on for the final of the 2003 O’Neill Deep Blue Open.
For a daily dose of surfing stimulus go to www.deepblueopen.com bringing you all the action from the fiercest fought contest heats to lazy afternoon free surfs.