October 23, 2003 (Mundaka, Basque Country) Semifinalists for the BillabongPro Mundaka were decided this afternoon in solid conditions. The US$250,000World Championship Tournament (WCT) recommenced after a five-hour break dueto the higher tide, but then upped the ante with the best surf of thetournament so far. Semifinals and the event climax are expected to takeplace tomorrow morning at Mundaka.
Solid 6-8 ft (2-2.6m) waves were on offer and continued to improve as thehigher tide drained out with massive barrels funneling down the line.
Current ratings #4 Mick Fanning (Gold Coast) gained control of the firstquarterfinal against ratings #6 and fellow Australian Kieren Perrow (ByronBay, Aus) with arguably the longest ride of the Billabong Pro Mundaka. The22-year-old performed a series of critical under the lip backhandre-entries, finally raising his arms for Jet Ski assistance once the wavehad used up all its power far on the inside. He scored an 8.33, and despitebeing out of clear view for most the ride, judges and spectators alike couldsee spray flying off the back of the wave with each turn he executed. Withthree semifinal finishes already to his credit this year, Fanning isobviously eager to bust through into tomorrow’s grand finale.
“It’s good the waves came up, but I didn’t realize how big it was until Ipaddled out,” said Fanning. “I only had a 6’3″, but it turned out to beperfect and went well. I’m just stoked to get through. I’m pretty psychedfor tomorrow and will give it all I’ve got. Hopefully I can make the final,but I’m really happy to have already gained more points on the ratings.”
Six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) survived an extremely toughbattle with current #10 Mick Lowe (Windang, Aus). The Australian collected a9.07 on his second ride for a good tube and held control, but the Floridianfought back with an 8.17 and then a committed barrel of his own for a muchneeded 7.9 score. Lowe required another wave worth 7-points during the finalminutes, but after being dropped back into the lineup after his 6.5 ride,was unable to secure anything else. Should Slater make tomorrow’s finalhe’ll overtake reigning world champ Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw) on the currentratings.
“That was seriously hard work,” admitted Slater. “I couldn’t tell what wavesto take and had no idea it was going to pick up like this, so I had thewrong equipment. I was jus trying to slow my board down so I could turn. Ihad one wave through the middle I go barreled on, but I fell, so I needed ascore near the end. Mick took the first wave, but my next one sucked out andstarted draining. I got tubed and then did a floater I luckily made. I swearthat was some of the toughest work I’ve had in a heat.
“It’ll be another re-match with Mick from Japan,” he added, of facingFanning tomorrow. “I owe him one from there, but he’s been surfing greatthis year. He’s so fast, so hopefully if the waves stay like this I can getthe right equipment surf a little more aggressively.”
West Australian Taj Burrow continued his good run today, eliminatingBrazilian Flavio Padaratz from the Billabong Pro Mundaka. Having scored hisfirst perfect 10 in round three this morning, he quickly created a lead andmaintained it through the low-scoring heat for a semifinal berth.
“I’m so stoked, even though I only got a couple of average ones,” saidBurrow. “It was so stormy and tricky to get waves. Really powerful and big,and I rode a brand new board. I actually got the worst beating I’ve had inso many years down the end section. I was trying to go as fast as I could,but was hit in the head by the lip and got pounded. Then about six wavesbroke on my head (laughs), but it was worth it. I was just puttingeverything into, as it was my last heat of the day and I’m so stoked to beinto the semis.”
Padaratz’s equal 5th placing is still his best result this season, andheading to his home in Florianopolis, Brazil, for the next WCT – which he’splayed a maajor part in creating – has generated some added confidence.
“There was a bit of confusion then because I couldn’t hear the scores andthought I needed more than I did,” explained Padaratz. “Oh well, next eventin Brazil. It’s a dream come true to have an event at home, which is mobileand will showcase our best waves. I can’t wait to get there.”
Nathan Hedge (Narrabeen) took out fellow Australian and current ratings #5Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast) in this evenings’ fourth quarterfinal. ‘Hog’s’fighting spirit was evident as he turned on the pressure in the latter halfwith carving forehand re-entries for the lead. ‘Parko’ committed himself tosome major floaters – making one – but still required a 7.34 at conclusion.
The Billabong Pro Mundaka is co-sponsored by Fosters, Vans and Von Zipperand supported by Telefonica, BBK, the “Diputacion de Bizkaia”, the “GobiernoVasco”, the city of Mundaka, the Mundaka Surf Taldea and EHSF (Federation ofSurfing).
Billabong Pro Mundaka Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receivesUS$8,000)
QF1: Mick Fanning (Aus) 15.6 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 12.16
QF2: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.07 def. Mick Lowe (Aus) 15.57
QF3: Taj Burrow (Aus) 10.1 def. Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 8.44
QF4: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 13.0 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 10.0
Upcoming Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Mick Fanning (Aus) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
SF2: Taj Burrow (Aus) vs. Nathan Hedge (Aus)