Wildcard surfers today created major upsets in 2004 The Rip Curl Pro. The prestigious event on the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) continued with the second elimination round at Bells Beach, running through all 16 heats in good conditions.
Clean 3-4 ft (1-1.3m) waves greeted competitors this morning, linking up through the ‘Bowl’ section. As the higher tide filled in, the ‘Rincon’ section directly below the cliff face again came into affect.
Reigning Australian Junior and World Grommet Champion Ben Dunn kicked off the wildcard onslaught, eliminating fellow Australian and world #6 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay) in the day’s opening clash. The 18-year-old from Old Bar, on the NSW North Coast, surfed a confident heat and locked in an excellent 8.5 score to gain control. Perrow fell towards the end of his last crucial ride, requiring a 7.51, and only managed a 7.1 to result in an equal 33rd place finish.
“Stoked to finally get some good waves, began a modest Dunn. “In my heat yesterday I didn’t really have a good one, so today I was just trying to get two good scores and am so stoked to get through. I never thought I could (laughs). I was just taking each wave at a time and kept wondering if he was ever going to fall off. It was good just to be able to surf with him.
Surf Dive ‘N’ Ski Trials winner Adam Robertson (Portland, VIC) then used local knowledge to defeat former world #3 Cory Lopez (FL, USA). Riding the same board he used last year in the Rip Curl Pro — where he finished equal 17th — the 21-year-old waited for the better waves and unleashed some brilliant forehand maneuvers.
“I surf waves like that heaps, so I sort of knew which ones to take, reasoned Robertson. “Cory was looking at the first ones in the set and I knew the later ones would be glassier. I had to keep my cool and wait, but it paid off. Last year was my first WCT event and I was nervous, so I couldn’t really surf how I wanted to. I actually rode the same board as last year then, which is a bit of a good luck charm, so I’m stoked to be through.
WCT replacement surfer Troy Brooks (Gold Coast, AUS) continued the underdog charge, eliminating world #14 Damien Hobgood (FL, USA). The pair both collected 7.23 scores earlier on, but the Victorian born local then collected a near-perfect 9.5 for his committed forehand turns and virtually slammed the door on his opponent.
“I had a slow start, but fortunately got a 7.23 and then paddled back out into a better wave, explained Brooks. “All the white singlets have been winning this morning (referring to the color lower seeded surfers wear in round two). I was hooting and proud of ‘Robbo’ earlier, as I traveled with him all last year. There’s a lot of support for us here, so it’s good.
1998 event and ’99 world champion Mark Occhilupo (Gold Coast, AUS) sealed a convincing victory to balance the books somewhat, posting the highest total of 18.33-points over Greg Emslie (ZAF). The crowd favorite landed a huge floater for an 8.83, then picked off another set wave and displayed trademark power turns for a 9.5 score. Despite also surfing a great heat, the South African required a perfect 10 to bridge the gap.
“The 9.5 felt good, said Occhilupo, of his best ride. “Greg’s a real fluid surfer, so I knew it would be a hard heat. I’m just glad to still be in the event, as I love it. I hope we get some classic conditions.
Current ratings leader Mick Lowe (Windang, AUS) survived a low scoring match over local wildcard Steve Hughes. Following his win at the opening tournament on Australia’s Gold Coast last month, the goofy footer lost his first non-elimination heat in the Rip Curl Pro yesterday, but gained some momentum with today’s result.
“Our scores kind of reflected the waves, but luckily I was on better side of them, said Lowe. “‘Hughesy’ is a great surfer at Bells. We’ve competed against each other here for 15-years, back through the junior series and even before in the cadet days. I knew he was going to be tough, and it was. It’s good coming through the 33rd place round though, as it helps build a bit of momentum and you get an extra surf here.
Brazilian Victor Ribas put an end to Hawaiian Bruce Irons’ Rip Curl Pro campaign. The goofy footer surfed a smart heat and created an advantage, while the WCT newcomer failed to put together any ride worth more than a 5.33 score.
“Bruce is a very good surfer, from the new generation, offered Ribas, in praise of his opponent. “I thought it was going to be very hard to beat him, but I think I competed very well today and selected the right waves.
Eric Rebiere (FRA) posted a one-sided win over current ratings #3 Tom Whitaker (Bronte, AUS). The Brazilian born and bred surfer moved to France six-years ago and became their first male representative on the WCT in 2004, securing his first result today while Whitaker struggled to catch anything. The Australian didn’t stand up until 22-minutes had elapsed, and despite a strong 7.07 ride, required another 6.6 he wasn’t able to find.
“I’m stoked about making it, but I would be happier if Tom could have caught some waves, as it wasn’t fair, acknowledged Rebiere. “There’s a lot of pressure at home cause I’m the only (European) one on tour, but everyone is behind me, which is great.
Other standouts today included Australians Dean Morrison (Gold Coast, QLD), Luke Hitchings (Bronte, NSW), Toby Martin (Dee Why, NSW) and Richie Lovett (Manly, NSW), Californian Pat O’Connell (USA), as well as Brazilians Guilherme Herdy, Paulo Moura and Raoni Monteiro — who all posted convincing victories.
Three-time world and twice Rip Curl Pro champion Tom Curren (USA) was on-site today and even played an acoustic set from his upcoming self-titled CD for the crowd. For more info you can check out his website: www.tomcurren.com. Rip Curl announced they have re-signed the legendary surfer back to their team last night.
Rip Curl Pro Round Two Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd=33rd receives US$3,400)
H1: Ben Dunn (AUS) 15.17 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.77
H2: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.57 def. Steven Hughes (AUS) 10.94
H3: Adam Robertson (AUS) 15.5 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 12.5
H4: Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.33 def. Zane Harrison (AUS) 6.07
H5: Luke Hitchings (AUS) 14.17 def. Phil MacDonald (AUS) 5.0
H6: Troy Brooks (AUS) 16.73 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.6
H7: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 18.33 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.83
H8: Eric Rebiere (FRA) 13.67 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 7.07
H9: Victor Ribas (BRA) 14.67 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 9.16
H10: Pat O’Connell (USA) 14.43 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 12.54
H11: Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 17.17 def. Tim Curran (USA) 15.67
H12: Toby Martin (AUS) 14.6 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 14.0
H13: Paulo Moura (BRA) 15.1 def. Armando Daltro (BRA) 11.33
H14: Richard Lovett (AUS) 15.94 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 11.66
H15: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 16.5 def. Kalani Robb (HAW) 13.6
H16: Michael Campbell (AUS) 11.77 def. Nathan Webster (AUS) 11.24