Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) www.aspworldtour.com
*As 6-Star prime rated events, the Salomon Masters and Bico Classic are two of the most important Qualifying Series (QS) events on the 2005 calendar and play a significant part in determining World Championship Tour (WCT) positions for 2006*
Difficult Conditions Prevail For Top Seeds
Friday, March 18, 2005 (Margaret River, Western Australia) The Prime rated 6-Star Salomon Masters resumed today as top seeded surfers entered the draw with mixed results. Onshore winds and difficult 2-3ft (1m) surf prevailed for the round of 96, while quarterfinals of the women’s Bico Classic were postponed until tomorrow.
West Australian Ry Craike secured a massive win in the day’s opening heat. Against 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood (FL, USA) and former WCT star Shane Powell (NSW, AUS), the 20-year-old managed to find the best wave and maximized its potential for an 8.0 and the lead. Hobgood maintained runner-up position and even boosted a small aerial, while Powell was unfortunate not to find another wave to support his 7.83 ride. For Craike, who has fought his way through from the Trials, the result is already major as he progresses to the round of 48.
“It’s all about luck out there, reasoned Craike. “I ended up getting that one wave, so I was rapt. Towards the end it was getting pretty tense, as the other guys needed scores and it’s hard in conditions like those. I was scratching for anything at the start, but then (wave God) Huey sent me one. I was so stoked to make it through the Trials, and now making a few more heats is unreal.
Defending Salomon Masters champion Neco Padaratz (BRA) began his campaign in form, collecting an 8.0 and 7.6 in the testing conditions. The 2004 World Qualifying Series winner again utilized the righthanders on offer at main break, executing a series of forehand snaps. Hawaii’s Jesse Merle-Jones also advanced in second.
“I’m feeling good to be back here, began Padaratz. “This is an emotional contest for me, and there’s a lot of meaning. I’m just happy to know I fought hard all year and am back with another chance. I’ve never seen the conditions like this, so it’s really tricky and hard to know what to do. I just tried to catch anything with opportunity, and not make any mistakes.
Local hero and former world #2 Taj Burrow suffered a shock elimination, losing his opening round to Gabe Kling (USA) and fellow Australian WCT surfer Kirk Flintoff (NSW). The 1997 event champion initially led the exchange, prior to Flintoff locking in a 9.0 and Kling’s combined total pushed him in front, and Burrow into third place. Having been especially eager to contest the new man-on-man format being introduced this year at the Salomon Masters from quarterfinals onwards, the 26-year-old was clearly disappointed with today’s outcome.
“Just got starved for waves, explained Burrow. “I’m devastated I couldn’t surf a man-on-man heat (here), as I just hate four-man heats. That’s all I can say. It’s a bummer.
Damien Hobgood (FL, USA) posted the day’s best score for a 9.57, and combined with another 8.43, earned the highest total of the Salomon Masters so far. WCT ‘rookie’ Bede Durbidge (Gold Coast, AUS) also progressed, while local Jason Duffy and Warwick Wright (ZAF) had their campaigns spoiled.
“I guess the judges liked those rights I caught near the end, said Hobgood. “I kept surfing lefts at the start and wasn’t getting points, but then got those two waves at the end, so it was lucky. I’m really happy to make it.
Great Britain’s Russell Winter won a close battle with current WQS ratings leader Bobby Martinez (CA, USA). The former WCT surfer put his backhand attack through its paces on the small lefthanders, and the pair advanced over Jarrrad Howse (AUS) and Hawaiian Joel Centeio.
“It’s a prime event, and obviously I want to requalify again, acknowledged Winter. “Getting through the main event heat is good so far, but I hope to go a lot further. I’m feeling really fit this year, and I’m trying to work hard. I’m really confident and my surfing is good, so as long as I get the waves I should do well.
After opening with an 8.17, he spent most of the heat trailing while opponents forged ahead, but then sealed victory with a brilliant 8.67 ride. Together with Phil MacDonald (NSW, AUS), they knocked Tim Reyes (CA, USA) and Damon Harvey (Gold Coast, AUS) from the Salomon Masters.
“I was stressing, admitted Thompson. “I had that eight to start with, but then couldn’t score higher than a three for so long. I couldn’t believe I was blowing it, but luckily I caught another good one at the end. It’s definitely a confidence boost, especially since the guys in my heat are in the WCT. Good to know you can mix it with those guys. Hopefully it was turning point.
Other standouts included Australians Richie Lovett (Manly), Trent Munro (Scott’s Head) and Salomon team rider Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay), together with France’s Eric Rebiere and Cory Lopez (FL, USA).
The 2005 Salomon Masters and Bico Classic is proudly sponsored by Salomon, westernaustralia.com, Bico Australia, Department of Sport & Recreation, Tooheys Extra Dry, Coca-Cola, SunSmart, Odyssey 2020, Telstra Country Wide, Jim Beam, 92.9 ninety two.nine, Fin Control Systems (FCS), Evans & Tate, Margarets Beach Resort, Margaret River Law and Tracks.