7pm Friday, August 26: It was a day of tube riding and high scores at the spot of Les Bourdaines in southern France today, as competition in the Rip Curl Pro Super Series made its way through Rounds 4 and 5, setting up for an action packed finals day tomorrow.
The ASP-licensed World Qualifying Series (WQS) event opened with 144 competitors on Monday, but now after five days of hot completion the draw lists just eight very confident names.
Brazilians Adriano de Souza, Odirlei Coutinho, Rodrigo Dornelles and Paulo Moura, Australians Adrian Buchan, Daniel Ross and Jay Thompson and USA surfer Bobby Martinez will all compete the quarter-finals tomorrow, having advanced through the two rounds held in Seignosse today.
Martinez (USA) was the first competitor to earn a spot in the quarter-finals tomorrow, easily disposing of Alain Riou with a combination score in Heat 1 of round five. The 23-year-old took hold of the heat straight away, finishing with a high 17.00-point (out of 20) two-wave combined heat score that towered Riou’s 6.83 score. He will surf quarter-final 1 when competition resumes.
“It was going off out there at the end,” said Martinez, who scored two 8.5 waves in the heat. “The tide is getting lower and those barrels are just going to keep coming. It was an awesome heat for me. I’m really happy to be through to the next surf – it’s the biggest event of the year and I’m still surfing.”
The Super Series event is the most important WQS of the year, offering more qualifying points and more prize money than any other contest on the tour. A strong result this week is a major positive for a surfer’s season and this was exemplified by the Heat 2 clash between Australian Adrian Buchan (rated 3rd on the WQS) and local French surfer Mikael Picon (rated 12th).
Both surfers have been ripping all week and it was anyone’s guess as to who would come out victorious after the 25-minute heat. A win and a spot in the quarter-finals would all but confirm qualification for the 2006 World Championship Tour (WCT) for the winner.
It was Buchan who made most of the conditions, posting a 7.5 and a 5.5 to win the heat with a score of 13.00 points.
“It was a pretty slow heat, but it’s obviously good to win and get through,” said Bouchan. “There’s great waves out there and lots of barrels. It’s really good for the finals.
For home town favourite Picon, the heat was one to forget. The waves went missing for the goofy-footer (one who stands right foot forward) and he was left with a disappointing 4.13-point total at the siren.
“I’m stoked with the event and my result, but not happy about that heat,” said Picon. “I was watching the waves before my heat and was so excited to get barreled, but I couldn’t get a wave. There was only one good wave that came and I didn’t get it. I really wanted a serious result here, but just didn’t have a chance then. I really want to do good here and confirm my result.”
Current WQS ratings leader Adriano de Souza (BRZ) didn’t need a big result at the Rip Curl Super Series to confirm his spot in the WCT next year, but the 18-year-old is would love to cap his awesome season with a win here in France.
The Brazilian lined up against WCT surfer Toby Martin (AUS) in Heat 3 of round 5 today, beating him by a combination score in dominating fashion. After a slow start to the heat, de Souza scored a 6.17 and 9.40 on his final two waves to total 15.57 points for the heat. Martin, like Picon in the heat prior, struggled to find scoring waves and finished with a low 7.67 two-wave combined heat score.
“I am so stoked about the waves,” said de Souza. “It’s so good and I’m so happy. It’s been a great contest, with some great waves today. I am thankful for all of the support from home and happy the Brazilian surfers are ripping.”
Brazilian surfers will hold four of the eight spots in tomorrow’s quarter-finals and none is more deserving than Rodrigo Dornelles’ spot in quarter-final 4. Dornelless surfed a near flawless heat in Round 4, posting an 8.50 on his first wave and then a perfect 10.0 on his second. The Brazilian’s perfect navigation of the long barreling right-hand wave had the large French crowd on its feet and was given perfect 10s by all five of the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) judges.
“I just paddled into it, looked at it and just went along the line — pumping and pumping until I came out, commented Dornelles when questioned about surfing the best wave of the event so far. “It was so good! This is the best day of my life — I’m so happy.
Dornelles then backed up his strong Round 4 showing by defeating current WQS #13 Roy Powers (HAW) in Round 5. He will face fellow countryman Paulo Moura in quarter-final 4 tomorrow.
Contest officials will meet with the quarter-finalists tomorrow morning at 9am (local time) to make the call on a starting the final day of Rip Curl Super Series surfing.
Rip Curl Pro Super Series Quarter-Finals
Quarter-Final 1: Bobby Martinez (USA vs Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Quarter-Final 2: Adriano de Souza (BRZ) vs Daniel Ross (AUS)
Quarter-Final 3: Jay Thompson (AUS) vs Odirlei Coutinho (BRZ)
Quarter-Final 4: Rodrigo Dornelles vs Paulo Moura (BRZ)