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Slater And Irons Advance At Rip Curl Pro, Contest Likely To Resume Wednesday Afternoon (U.S. Time)

Rip Curl Pro organisers were greeted by classic waves at Bells Beach, Australia this morning and surfers competing in the remaining two heats of round three and those in the first five heats of round four put on some of the best displays seen in the event in years.

But with conditions deteriorating due to the high tide, organisers of the event, which is the second of 12 on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, were only able to complete the total of seven heats and will look to wrap up tomorrow with the winner being crowned around 1pm.

In an interesting twist to the event it was the lower ranked surfers who grabbed the spotlight today with names such as Luke Stedman (AUS), Sean Cansdell (AUS) and Bede Durbidge (AUS) notching up some tremendous performances in front of the heaving crowd.

Stedman defeated Pancho Sullivan (HAW) in heat one of round four, Cansdell took down Paulo Moura (BRA) in heat two and Durbidge knocked out Bruce Irons in heat three.

Kelly Slater (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) meanwhile stayed true to form and eliminated Taylor Knox (USA) and Bobby Martinez (USA) respectively in heats four and five.

For Stedman, the result today equals his career best fifth placing at Jeffreys Bay in 2005. He was elated with his win over Sullivan who to this point has been one of the standouts of the event. For Stedman his tradesman-like display of consistently radical surfing prevailed for him in the end. “I have a huge grin on my face at the moment, said Stedman. “It’s an unreal feeling. It’s great to be at Bells today because conditions are unreal. I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

Stedman was wary of Sullivan’s incredible power-surfing and knew that the result could easily have been swayed by one wave as Sullivan was only chasing an average score of 5.93 to overtake for the lead. But Sullivan was struggling to complete his waves while Stedman was polished to the end.

“I was a bit nervous towards the end of that heat as Pancho only needed a 6.0 or so, said Stedman. “I was always on edge with him because he has such an incredible forehand attack. He’s capable of doing anything. I knew that towards the end of the heat I had to sit and hang onto priority and hope that no good waves came for him inside.Stedman attributed his radical showing to being “amped up by round three heat 16, where Joel Parkinson and Danny Wills were superb. “It was super inspirational to watch those guys perform to such a freakish level. said Stedman. After gaining his fifth placing last year in Jeffreys Bay Stedman shaved his head after a bet with his buddies and if he wins the event tomorrow he claims he will do it again.

“Last year I shaved my head at Jeffreys Bay after I made the quarterfinals, Stedman said. “So here I might shave it if I get to the final and win! {laughs}

Rookie Cansdell has indicated that he will be a force to be reckoned with after his showdown with Moura. Cansdell is a well-drilled performer having been surfing in competition from a very early age. He has been touted as a future star of the sport for many years and now those predictions are becoming a reality.

“It’s just a dream to be in the quarters at Bells Beach and I just hope I can keep the flow going, said Cansdell. “It’s definitely a really prestigious competition as a lot of the world champions have won this event. It’d be an unreal one to win.”

Speaking on his tight heat with Moura, Cansdell was pleased that he could get one back on the feisty Brazilian who knocked him out of the first event on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour on the Gold Coast, and was very happy with his own tactics.

“It was a tight heat between me and Paulo, said Cansdell. “I really wanted to get him back after the Gold Coast. I was getting the second wave of the sets and they were the ones walling up and working for me.”

For Durbidge the result here today was a much-needed shot in the arm for his career. He was included on the 2006 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour due to RRichie Lovett’s (AUS) withdrawing due to having a rare form of cancer. Durbidge is eager to grab his “second chance by the horns and finish strongly in 2006 so as to avoid slipping back to the second tier ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS).

“Last time I made the quarters was in Jeffreys Bay last year so I’m looking forward to my next heat and hopefully I can do a personal best, said the quietly spoken Durbidge.

He will now face Slater in the next round and after beating him in this event last year he will be confident heading into the match-up.

Slater indicated he was wary of his challenger. “Coming up against Bede… He’s one of the standouts here at Bells, said Slater. “He covers a lot of ground in his turns. He’s a big guy and needs a big open face and this wave really suits his surfing. He’s not a guy you would underestimate. Looking at the ratings you wouldn’t think he would be in the top five guys at Bells but in my eyes he is.

Organisers will be back checking out conditions at 7am sharp (local time) tomorrow morning with the hope of starting at 7.30am.

The swell forecast still indicates that there will be a further rise in the waves and tomorrow the event will finish in some of the best conditions ever seen for the event.

For the full rundown of the previous round results go to www.ripcurl.com/ripcurlpro or www.aspworldtour.com

Also check out the notes and quotes section for more detailed quotes from surfers in today’s and previous rounds, plus the news section for the heat by heat breakdown of the day.

Results:
Round three heats 15 and 16 results:
Heat 15: Mick Lowe (AUS) 15.17 def Trent Munro (AUS) 14.17
Heat 16: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.67 def Dan Wills (AUS) 16.20

Round four heats one to five:
Heat 1: Luke Stedman (AUS) 12.60 def Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 11.34
Heat 2: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 15.60 def Paulo Moura (BRA) 15.03
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.90 def Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.56
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.10 def Taylor Knox (USA) 15.27
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.50 def Bobby Martinez (USA) 10.50

Remaining heats of round four:
Heat 6: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Mick Lowe (AUS) vs Joel Parkinson (AUS)