Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Occhilupo Dominates With Best Ride
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia (Thursday, April 4th) The 30th AnniversaryRip Curl Pro resumed this morning with the completion round three. 1998event winner and 1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo (Aus) proved the standout,posting the highest single wave score of the 2002 World ChampionshipTournament (WCT).
Windblown 3-5 ft (1.5m) surf made its way through the lineup, withorganizers utilizing the lower-tide ‘Bowl’ conditions.
Occhilupo, 35, opened his account against Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) with anear perfect 9.65, before sealing victory with two more solid scores. Theworld #2 looked completely at home in the onshore surf, once againdemonstrating his amazing relationship with Bells Beach.
“It was a really good wave and just stood up through the inside ‘bowl’,”explained Occhilupo, of his opening ride. “It was my first wave of the day,since I hadn’t surfed this morning, but I felt really good out there.
“It’s been a week since I surfed (a heat),” he continued. “I caught the fluand have had a sore neck, but then I got out there and just felt great. It’sweird, but I love it out here so much. I just forget about everything whenI’m surfing Bells.”
World #18 Flavio Padaratz (Brz) then stopped the momentum of current world#1 Joel Parkinson (Aus). Despite a strong start by the Australian, Padaratzfought back toward the end with a determined backhand attack for the win.
“I just sat out there and waited for the sets,” said Padaratz. “I knew thatwas my only chance against him. He’s on a really good run after winning thefirst event. He’s stoked and so confident with his surfing. Luckily I gotit.
“I knew it was probably the toughest heat I’d get this event, or even thewhole year,” he continued. “I admire his surfing and his style so much. Ihad to make sure I concentrated on my work.
“I have nothing to lose, as they’re supposed to be nervous, not me,” addedthe Brazilian, of now facing Occhilupo in round four. “When you’re a kid youdream of having great heats with the best guys. This is my chance, so it’sgood.”
Reigning world champion CJ Hobgood (USA), who rode the same trusty surfboardhe used most of last year, eliminated world #37 Marcello Nunes (Brz) in afairly one-sided exchange. The Floridian will now face tour newcomer KierenPerrow, after he caused an upset this morning by outscoring world #17 andfellow Australian Nathan Webster.
“I just tried to get in a rhythm and catch anything that looked halfwaydecent,” said Hobgood. “My first wave ended up being good, and my second wasall right. There wasn’t any real game plan. You just have to catch wavessometimes, even if you don’t know how good they are going to be.
“He’s on a bit of a roll,” he added, of upcoming opponent Perrow. “He’s beenable to control his heats and play them really smart. It’ll be close.”
Greg Emslie (SAfr) closed the door on world #7 Peterson Rosa (Brz) with thebest combined three-wave tally of the entire event. The South Africancollected a 9.0, 7.5, and then an 8.9 to amass 25.4-points. Showing moreflair than in previous years on tour, he’ll now challenge former world #2Taj Burrow (Aus), who narrowly defeated Damien Hobgood (USA) today.
“So stoked,” began Emslie. “The waves are onshore, but there are some reallyfun ones and my board is working great. I actually only brought this over atthe last minute for Bells, and am so glad I did.
“Maybe it’s just being at home for a few months,” he reasoned, of hisinspired performances of late. “I’ve been able to work on my surfing and domore ‘new school’ stuff. There are a lot of young kids growing up in my areajust doing crazy things, so surfing with them really pushes you.”
World #28 Renan Rocha (Brz) caused a major upset by eliminating world #3Cory Lopez. The Brazilian racked up a 9.25, while Lopez struggled to findaany decent scores, requiring a combination of rides worth 10.01-points.
World #16 Richie Lovett held off the challenge of fellow Australian WCTnewcomer Dean Morrison. The 29 year old began with an impressive 8-pointride, but his lead was never secure as Morrison stayed in contention rightup until the end. Requiring a 6.75, ‘Dingo’ made the most of his final waveto post a 6.0, but ultimately finished equal 17th.
“I knew I really had to pull it out of the bag, so I went for it on thatfirst wave and it kind of set up the heat for me,” said Lovett. “Dean canmake good scores out of anything, so I just had to wait and listen (to hislast score), but luckily for me he didn’t get it.
“Renan’s a really good competitor and he’s got a strong backhand out here,”he added, of his upcoming match. “I’m not taking anyone lightly, that’s forsure.”
World #10 Andy Irons (Haw) completely controlled the day’s final heatagainst world #29 Russell Winter (UK). The Hawaiian looked at ease, creatinga gap of 11.86-points over the United Kingdom’s sole WCT representative.He’ll now contest round four against fellow Hawaiian and world #6 KalaniRobb, who dominated his clash with world #22 Guilherme Herdy (Brz).
“I was a little shaky as I haven’t surfed in a couple of days,” said Irons.”It took a bit to get some rhythm going, but I ended up getting a couple ina row. I’m psyched.
“It’s going to be cool, like old days,” he added, of the looming heat withRobb. “We used to surf against each other a lot, so it’ll be a good matchup. Looking forward to it, and hope the waves are good.”
Full heat details and surfer profiles are available on: www.aspworldtour.com