Rip Curl Cup Main Event Currently Underway
Monday, November 25 (Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii)¿The Rip Curl Cup commenced with round one of the main event this morning. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) will run as many heats as possible, since the swell is expected to increase rapidly throughout the day and possibly lead to a postponement.
Perfect ten- to twelve-foot surf is currently on offer at Sunset Beach, but the latest buoy readings indicate the swell may jump as much as another eight to ten feet by this afternoon.
The Rip Curl Cup marks the second leg of the 20th Anniversary Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and will very likely host the crowning of the 2002 ASP world champion. The penultimate event, now in its 28th consecutive season, showcases the world’s top 45 rated surfers, last year’s defending champion Myles Padaca (Haw), as well as fellow Hawaiians Pancho Sullivan and Bruce Irons, who were selected from yesterday’s 32-man Rip Curl Cup Trials.
Current ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw) commands a well-earned advantage going into the Rip Curl Cup, with a thousand points separating him from the nearest three Australian rivals still holding a mathematical chance of the crown. A victory or runner-up finish at Sunset would guarantee the Hawaiian’s maiden world title, though in reality the pressure is really on his opponents. Unless at least one of them reaches the four-man final and places highly in the Rip Curl Cup, there is no chance anyone can surpass Irons during the season ending Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters. He will face Peterson Rosa (Brz) and wildcard Sullivan in round one.
Current #2 Luke Egan remains Australia’s best hope at the world title, but will require huge results at both Sunset and Pipeline to break Irons’ steely grip on the crown. The powerful goofy footer requires at least a 3rd and 1st placing to defeat the Hawaiian over the coming tournaments. He meets defending Rip Curl Cup champion Myles Padaca and Michael Campbell (Aus) first up.
Current #3 Taj Burrow, who won the last WCT in Brazil, together with fellow Aussie Mick Lowe, are the only other two surfers in mathematical contention going into the final Hawaiian events. Both virtually have to win the next two tournaments, as well as rely on poor performances by the current leader on his home turf. Burrow is against Neco Padaratz (Brz) and Bruce Irons (Haw), while Lowe meets Richard Lovett (Aus) and Marcelo Nunes (Brz) this morning.
Equally crucial during the Rip Curl Cup and Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters will be the race to re-qualify in the WCT, with the top 27 final place getters ensuring their position among the elite ranks, while the top 15 (excluding double qualifiers) on the WQS join the field for 2003. An updated list of those surfers on the cusp following the Hawaiian Pro will be distributed following the completion of that tournament.
The format for the Rip Curl Cup, as well as the year’s final tournament, the Xbox Gerry Lopez Pipeline Masters, has recently changed due to permit restrictions. Four man heats will now be held each round, including the finals, though a second “losers” round will still be in place. Jet skis will not be used to help assist surfers back into the lineup following their rides.
Upcoming round one heats in the Rip Curl Cup (1st > Rnd 3; 2nd & 3rd > Rnd 2)
H1: Shea Lopez (USA); Taylor Knox (USA); Paul Canning (SAfr)
H2: Danny Wills (Aus); Shane Powell (Aus); Phil MacDonald (Aus)
H3: Mark Occhilupo (Aus); Dean Morrison (Aus); Paulo Moura (Brz)
H4: Kieren Perrow (Aus); Beau Emerton (Aus); Darren O’Rafferty (Aus)
H5: Mick Fanning (Aus); Sunny Garcia (Haw); Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz)
H6: Joel Parkinson (Aus); Jake Paterson (Aus); Victor Ribas (Brz)
H7: Michael Lowe (Aus); Richard Lovett (Aus); Marcelo Nunes (Brz)
H8: Andy Irons (Haw); Peterson Rosa (Brz); Pancho Sullivan ((Haw)
H9: Luke Egan (Aus); Michael Campbell (Aus); Myles Padaca (Haw)
H10: Taj Burrow (Aus); Neco Padaratz (Brz); Bruce Irons (Haw)
H11: Kalani Robb (Haw); Flavio Padaratz (Brz); Greg Emslie (SAfr)
H12: Cory Lopez (USA); Lee Winkler (Aus); Nathan Webster (Aus)
H13: CJ Hobgood (USA); Fabio Gouveia (Brz); Maz Quinn (NZ)
H14: Damien Hobgood (USA); Luke Hitchings (Aus); Shane Dorian (Haw)
H15: Kelly Slater (USA); Pat O’Connell (USA); Russell Winter (UK)
H16: Nathan Hedge (Aus); Guilherme Herdy (Brz); Renan Rocha (Brz)