Quiksilver Pro: Slater Ups Ante On Near-Perfect Scores

Tavarua & Namotu Islands, Fiji (Wednesday, May 29) Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) today upped the scoring ante in the Quiksilver Pro. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) recommenced this morning at Cloudbreak with round three, before four heats of the fourth round were then decided.

Offshore winds and 8ft (2.5m) waves created epic conditions, though the higher tide led to some inconsistent heats this morning. As the day progressed, however, and the tide dropped, hollow barrels once again captivated onlookers.

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Slater, who earned a near-perfect best two-wave total of 19.25-points in round one, today pushed the boundaries even further. Against fellow Floridian Damien Hobgood in round three, the 30 year old posted his and the event’s second perfect 10 with uncanny tube riding skills, as well as a 9.5, for a combined tally of 19.5 out of a possible 20-points. This all happened within the first 10-minutes, leaving two thirds of the heat remaining and Hobgood requiring a combination of rides worth 13.51-points that was never achieved.

“I don’t even know what to say,” began Slater. “It’s Cloudbreak. One of the perfect waves around the world and I was just in sync first heat and then again then. Luck came together for me. I got a 9.5 and didn’t want to get caught up on the fact I already had a good score. I passed one wave up, but my next one was the real good wave. I got both those waves in the first 10-minutes, so I knew Damien could do the same thing. He’s one of the best guys out here.

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“I didn’t think I was ever going to come out of that thing,” he said of the 10. “I thought it was going to keep going to Tavarua (laughs). I was actually sitting out there a bit nervous after my first wave with anticipation for another set, and I started thinking about my dad who recently passed away. I just got calm and then that wave came. It was crazy.”

Defending Quiksilver Pro champion Luke Egan (Aus) held off Paulo Moura (Brz) to now be up against Slater in round four’s most anticipated clash. Finding one of the best rides of the morning, the Australian secured a 9.0 to end the Brazilians’ campaign at ‘Cloudbreak’.

“I actually got barreled two times and almost a third,” said Egan of his best ride. “I’ll be up against Kelly next and he’s surfing incredibly. I’ll just stick to my own game plan and try to block him out and do my best.”

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Current ratings #8 Shea Lopez (USA) later posted the day’s second best total to eliminate an equally dynamic Joel Parkinson (Aus) in round four. The Floridian opened with a near-perfect 9.75 and then consolidated with another 9.0 to seemingly steal the match from his opponent. ‘Parko’, who lost one surfboard early due to a broken leash and then snapped another board midway through, came back with vengeance on borrowed equipment. First he posted a 7.5, and immediately following this ride he stroked into a wide breaking set and scored his first perfect 10 in a WCT. Only needing another 8.76-points to advance, and with priority, he wrongly caught an average wave at the 3-minute mark and was then held off anything else by Lopez.

“After I got my 9.0 I couldn’t believe I was that far ahead,” said Lopez. “But the waves are perfect, so you never know. He got a good wave, and then the third wave of the set broke wide and I realized he was in position for it. I could hear the announcer screaming something, so I was freaking, thinking he may have gotten a nine and then a 10 on two waves out of three. When I heard he only got a 7.5 I was stoked. I still can’t believe the waves.”

“You should have given it to me at the beginning,” joked Parkinson afterward, to ASP digital photographer Pierre Tostee, who lent his surfboard to the Australian after he had lost both of his in the lineup and was without another.

Current ratings #1 Andy Irons (Haw) was the major upset today, being eliminated by Quiksilver Pro Trials wildcard Troy Brooks (Aus) in rounthree. The Hawaiian, carrying an elbow injury from his free-surf session yesterday afternoon, never found the form which took him to back-to-back WCT titles earlier this year. Despite paddling into a few good waves, he repeatedly jumped off early and failed to secure the 5.86-points he needed.

“How would anyone would feel if they lost?” responded Irons afterward. “I’m not stoked, but it’s over, so I’m going home to relax and get ready for the next one at J-Bay (SAfr).

“It was definitely in my head as it’s pretty sore,” he continued, of his right elbow. “I pulled back on a couple I probably should have stuck with and that’s that. I needed to do well here, I think, as the beach break events (in Europe later this year) are going to be tough. It’s still a long year ahead, so we’ll see what happens.”

Brooks, 23, then faced former world #2 Taj Burrow (Aus) in the day’s final heat. Despite the confidence gained by his early victory, he was unable to repeat the performance against a surfer he defeated in the 2000 event, when he had placed fifth as a wildcard.

Burrow, who had earlier eliminated fellow Australian Shane Powell, surfed a smart, tactical heat against the wildcard. He’ll now face Lopez in the second quarterfinal.

“It was a tricky heat and he beat me out here last time,” explained Burrow. “I was trying my hardest to beat him, and just had to play the game, since there weren’t a lot of good ones. I’m so stoked to make the quarters though.

“I really hope he’s peaked,” he added, of facing Lopez. “Those two nines were ridiculous, and Parko’s 10… that was an amazing heat. Shea’s good out there, obviously. I’m just slowly learning how to ride the waves ’cause it’s really difficult. I’m hoping it’s pumping and I score some nines next heat.”

World #7 Peterson Rosa remains the only Brazilian in the tournament after he outscored Hawaiian Kalani Robb in round four. Rosa led from the outset and then cemented his position in the first quarterfinal with a fantastic 9.0-barrel ride at the end. He’ll challenge reigning world champion CJ Hobgood (USA), who dominated his clash with world #5 Jake Paterson (Aus) this afternoon (Aus).

“In the end there was a good set and he paddled for the first one, and the last one came to me and I had a nice barrel for a 9.0,” said Rosa. “He’s a really good surfer in these conditions and I knew it would be a tough heat. I respect him a lot, but I’m stoked. I’m waving the (Brazilian) flag, so next heat – let’s do something (laughs).”

2000 world champion Sunny Garcia locked in a superb barrel ride for a 9.5 and ultimately the win over fellow Hawaiian Shane Dorian. He’s pitted against current ratings #8 Danny Wills (Aus) in round four, after the Australian eliminated fellow countryman Beau Emerton.

“I was watching some of the scores earlier and seeing someone like Andy Irons only getting a 9.0 total, was a bit of an eye opener ’cause usually he’s getting 9.5’s on every wave. It’s just a matter of catching waves, and I got lucky. I needed a 7.36 and Shane went the first wave of the set, and the second actually ended up being a bit better.

“There’s not too many Hawaiians on tour, so I don’t really like to surf against them unless it’s Andy in the finals, or later in the event,” he added. “It’s always nice to beat Shane ’cause he’s such a great competitor, but on the same hand he’s also one of my good friends.”

1999 world and inaugural Quiksilver Pro champion Mark Occhilupo advanced through another slow heat over fellow Australian seed replacement Todd Prestage. Despite allowing his opponent to catch the final wave that offered the score he required, Occhilupo’s lead remained unchanged. He will now face world #8 Michael Lowe (Aus), who ousted world #4 Taylor Knox (USA) in another nail-biter. The Californian opened with an 8.9, but was unable to secure a second score for the win, and even broke the nose off his surfboard at the end of their heat trying.

Official results of the Quiksilver Pro Round Four
(losers finish =9th; receive US$5,000)
H1: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 16.75 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 12.85
H2: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.9 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 12.85
H3: Shea Lopez (USA) 18.75 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 17.5
H4: Taj Burrow (Aus) 12.75 def. Troy Brooks (Aus) 11.4

Round Three
(losers finish =17th; receive US$4,000)

H7: Taj Burrow (Aus) 15.0 def. Shane Powell (Aus) 11.25
H8: Troy Brooks (Aus) 10.85 def. Andy Irons (Haw) 9.0
H9: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.0 def. Todd Prestage (Aus) 10.65
H10: Michael Lowe (Aus) 11.0 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.9
H11: Luke Egan (Aus) 17.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 15.45
H12: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.5 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.75
H13: Cory Lopez (USA) 16.25 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 5.5
H14: Dean Morrison (Aus) 14.75 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 11.85
H15: Daniel Wills (Aus) 13.1 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.65
H16: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 15.75 def. Shane Dorian (Haw) 13.6

Remaining Round Four Heats

H5: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) vs. Michael Lowe (Aus)
H6: Luke Egan (Aus) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
H7: Cory Lopez (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (Aus)
H8: Danny Wills (Aus) vs. Sunny Garcia (Haw)
silver Pro Round Four
(losers finish =9th; receive US$5,000)
H1: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 16.75 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 12.85
H2: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.9 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 12.85
H3: Shea Lopez (USA) 18.75 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 17.5
H4: Taj Burrow (Aus) 12.75 def. Troy Brooks (Aus) 11.4

Round Three
(losers finish =17th; receive US$4,000)

H7: Taj Burrow (Aus) 15.0 def. Shane Powell (Aus) 11.25
H8: Troy Brooks (Aus) 10.85 def. Andy Irons (Haw) 9.0
H9: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.0 def. Todd Prestage (Aus) 10.65
H10: Michael Lowe (Aus) 11.0 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.9
H11: Luke Egan (Aus) 17.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 15.45
H12: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.5 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.75
H13: Cory Lopez (USA) 16.25 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 5.5
H14: Dean Morrison (Aus) 14.75 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 11.85
H15: Daniel Wills (Aus) 13.1 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.65
H16: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 15.75 def. Shane Dorian (Haw) 13.6

Remaining Round Four Heats

H5: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) vs. Michael Lowe (Aus)
H6: Luke Egan (Aus) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
H7: Cory Lopez (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (Aus)
H8: Danny Wills (Aus) vs. Sunny Garcia (Haw)