Thurso, Scotland, 1st May, 2006 – Local favorite Russell Winter (GBR) took full advantage of Brims Ness’ explosive right-hand barrels to win his Round of 16 heat against Brazilian legend Neco Padaratz and advance to the quarterfinal stage of the O’Neill Highland Open. Winter, the last remaining Briton in the event, posted a 6.5 and a 5.0 to edge out the multiple WQS champion and secure his place in the next round.
“It’s great to know that I can still match up with some of the best guys in the world, said Winter. “Padaratz has beaten me three or four times in the past and I was just lucky to get him back. The sets didn’t come his way. If they had, he could have certainly done some damage.
An elated Winter said he was proud to be representing his country in the quarterfinals: “It’s great to do well at home, in front of the British guys, the people who live here, my mom and dad. I’m pretty happy right now.
Earlier in the day, the Round of 24 saw WQS ratings leader Gabe Kling (USA) prematurely crash out of the competition. In an exciting early morning heat, the Floridian finished third against Padaratz and Noi Kaulukakui (USA), both of whom lost out in the following round. Other highlights included Aritz Aranburu’s (ESP) win in an all-European heat against runner-up Tim Boal (FRA) and Eric Rebiere (FRA), and a spectacular wave by Padaratz, who posted a 9.67 (the highest score yet) by riding a long, deep tube that drew loud cheers from those watching on the beach.
Jihad Kodhr (BRZ) qualified to the quarters by beating Kaulukakui in a heavily contested heat. The Brazilian wave warrior posted a 6.5 and 5.07 in a heat with few barrels but lots of powerful turns. “It’s really difficult out there right now but thankfully I managed to get some maneuvers in, Kodhr said. “I can’t wait to get back in the water again tomorrow. I really want to make the podium and maybe even win here in Scotland. It’s a special place.
Former WCT surfer Kieren Perrow (AUS) also advanced. He beat fellow countryman Dayyan Neve by posting the third highest score of the competition: 9.33. The Australian was ecstatic: “It’s really cranking out there. They’re amazing barrels when they come, it’s offshore, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m having a great time.
Besides Winter, Kodhr and Perrow, three other surfers have already qualified to the quarters: Luke Munro (AUS), Ben Bourgeois (USA) and Royden Bryson (ZAF). The final two quarterfinalists will be determined Tuesday when competition resumes for the final day of the O’Neill Highland Open. And, with a rising swell in store, it promises to be the most memorable one yet.