Wednesday, July 21, 2004 (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa) Two-time Billabong Pro champion Jake Paterson (West AUS) today led the charge into this year’s quarterfinals. Round four of the Foster’s Men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) was decided in perfect 4-5 ft (1.5m) ‘Supertubes’ conditions, with a building swell set to provide the classic event climax tomorrow.
Paterson continued his campaign for a third title by eliminating good friend and fellow Australian Luke Hitchings (Bronte) in blazing form. Each of his long rides were highlighted by barrels, with his third wave offering three tubes the judges rewarded a near-perfect 9.5 score. His combined total of 18-points is the highest of this year’s tournament so far, and guaranteed his quarterfinal berth.
“We played tennis yesterday, battling for who would have first wave priority, explained Paterson, of the pair’s pre-match strategy “He won, but fortunately didn’t utilize that too well and I got into a rhythm with the really good ones out there. When they came, it was incredible. Perfect, perfect J-Bay, and I got three really good waves. There’s a lot of work to do, but that was a good start.
Lee Winkler (Coffs Harbour, AUS) faces Paterson next, after he overcame the huge hurdle of 1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo (Gold Coast) at ‘Supertubes’. 38-year-old ‘Occy’ — who remarkably won the tournament 20-years ago – controlled their heat throughout, before ‘Wink’ paddled into a great set wave within the final minute and rode it superbly for the 8.33 required.
“It’s amazing, and he’s my favorite surfer, began Winkler. “I knew it would be the hardest heat to make, but I had confidence in myself and thankfully the wave came. Whatever happens from here I’m stoked. This is my best result so far this year and I’ll try to keep on moving.
Reigning two-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) secured his best Billabong Pro result by reaching the quarterfinals. The current ratings leader emerged from a long barrel to gain advantage on Richie Lovett (Manly, AUS) and maintained. Irons now hopes to gain revenge on Michael Lowe (Windang, AUS), after losing to him in the final of the season opening WCT on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“I’m freaking, said Irons. “This is the best result I’ve ever had here. Richie surfs really well and is definitely a threat, but I was just focusing on catching the good waves. I got lucky with a couple barrels.
“It’s always good to get some payback, but ‘Lowey’s’ been in a final here before (runner-up in 2002) and I haven’t, he continued, of their rematch. “I’ll just have to surf smart and not waste good waves.
Six-time world champ and defending event winner Kelly Slater (FL, USA) unleashed another stunning display, accounting for Peterson Rosa (Florianopolis, BRA). The Floridian posted an eight first ride, and later collected a 9.33 to close the door on his opponent and advance.
“Peterson had a slow start and I got some good ones right away, explained Slater. “I took advantage when he had priority and let a wave or two go. I felt I had the potential of scoring quite a bit better than that, so I hope to tighten it up in the next heat. My board feels great, but I definitely haven’t peaked yet, which is a good sign.
Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen) won a great battle against 1999 Billabong Pro winner and fellow Australian Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast). The current ratings #8 missed last tournament after dislocating his shoulder in the final of the Billabong Pro Teahupoo event in Tahiti, but surfed an inspired heat without hint of the injury. The goofy footer was brutal on his backhand, belting the lip continuously down the line.
“I’m rapt, acknowledged Hedge. “I put in a lot of hard work when I was out, so stoked to be back in the game. My shoulder isn’t 100 percent yet, and the Doctors told me I’m still a pretty high risk all year, but I’m doing the right things and it’s all going to plan.
“Yeah, he’s in form and is Kelly Slater, he offeredd, of the next challenge. “Hopefully this time I won’t get too nervous. I’ll just stick to my game and hopefully the backsiders prevail.
South Africa’s Greg Emslie (East London) generated crowd frenzy during the day’s final heat, taking the lead over Toby Martin (Dee Why, AUS) towards the end. Despite making a few mistakes, ‘Bigfoot’ was able to post a 6.17 for advantage and narrowly edge out Martin — who was unable to swing the lead back on his last ride. Emslie has now equaled his best ever WCT result, and will have to beat 2000 world champ Sunny Garcia (HAW) in the quarterfinals to achieve any better.
“I’m really stoked, said Emslie. “Toby had a really good start and put me under a lot of pressure. I’ve had the flu for the last three days, so I was a bit out of breath having to deal with those long paddles. Thankfully I managed to get that wave to win.
“Obviously Sunny is going to be tough, he continued. “He was the world champion and surfs really well out here, so we’ll have to see what the waves are like tomorrow and work out some tactics from there.
Billabong Pro Round Four Heats (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)H1: Jake Paterson (AUS) 18.0 def. Luke Hitchings (AUS) 7.33
H2: Lee Winkler (AUS) 14.5 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 14.33
H3: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.0 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.93
H4: Andy Irons (HAW) 15.17 def. Richie Lovett (AUS) 14.2
H5: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.33 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 10.84
H6: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 16.13 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.5
H7: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 15.17 def. Shane Powell (AUS) 14.83
H8: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 13.84 def. Toby Martin (AUS) 13.5
Upcoming Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)QF1: Jake Paterson (AUS) vs. Lee Winkler (AUS)
QF2: Michael Lowe (AUS) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
QF3: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Nathan Hedge (AUS)
QF4: Sunny Garcia (HAW) vs. Greg Emslie (ZAF)