Slater And Irons Advance In Round One

There were no bumps in the Xbox Pipeline Masters round one road for world title contenders Kelly Slater (Florida) and Andy Irons (Hawaii) today, both clearly advancing through their first round heats with conclusive wins. Opening up the day’s competition in highly anticipated back-to-back heats, Irons was first out in the 4-8 foot surf, up against wildcard Kalani Chapman (Haw) and Richard Lovett (Aus). With the two highest scores of the heat – 8.53 and 8.5, Irons’ total of 17.03 points stood to be the highest score of the day’s competition.

Straight behind Andy came Slater, forced to keep pace with his rival if he’s to keep his world title chances in check. Scoring slightly lower than Irons, Slater still wove his way through the premier tube rides of the 25 minute heat to advance to winner’s round three.

“I actually think it’s advantageous to surf first,” said Irons. “That way I can get the job out of the way and I don’t have to sit around watching Kelly, stressing out about what I need to do.”

“I think both ways have advantages and disadvantages,” said Slater. “With Andy surfing first, I know where I stand. But I think the pressure’s on. It’s on both of us all the way to end now.”

Following the contest side of business, Slater found time to pick up his prize money from the first event of the Vans Triple Crown series – the Vans Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa, officially making him surfing’s first prize money millionaire.

“We’ve had a lot of questions about surfing’s ‘million dollar man’,” said ASP Tour Manager Renato Hickel. “But the breaking news is that it’s finally official. He has finally picked up his check from Haleiwa and he now goes down in the records as our first million dollar prize money earner.”

While Kelly and Andy competed over surfing’s holy grail, the rest of the pack had their own concerns. For several of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Top 44 ranked World Championship Tour surfers, today’s second round represented a career ultimatum.

Brazil’s Flavio Padaratz, a 15-year veteran of the tour, still managed a smile and upbeat attitude following a second round loss to Mick Fanning (Australia) and Nathan Hedge (Australia) that saw him fail to re-qualify. Padaratz considers it to be a beginning to a new career phase, rather than an end.

“Well, I guess that’s the end of the 15-year round-the-world heat,” joked Padaratz, 32, shaking hands with friends and fellow competitors on the beach as he made his final exit from Pipeline. Padaratz’s younger brother Neco has successfully re-qualified for next year’s WCT tour and will keep the Brazilian flag flying high while Flavio takes up his various roles back in Brazil as television show host, Tropical Brazil surfboard/surfwear co-owner, and license holder of Brazil’s WCT event.

Along with Flavio, others to officially fail to make the WCT cut for next year’s tour now include Australians Shane Powell, Luke Stedman, Hawaii’s Shane Dorian, and Brazil’s Danilo Costa and Fabio Gouveia. Pat O’Connell (USA), Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) and Michael Campbell failed to make the cut but have been granted ASP injury wildcards into all 2004 WCT competitions.

Current Vans Triple Crown of Surfing series leader Jake Paterson (Australia), the winner of last week’s Rip Cur Cup at Sunset Beach, was perhaps the greatest surprise today, losing in the second round to a heat loaded with talented Pipeline surfers. Paterson struggled to successfully make his way out the barreling waves, finishing in fourth behind Bruce Irons (Haw), Peterson Rosa (Brz), and Shane Dorian. His premature loss has opened the door to Andy Irons to possibly defend his ownership of the Triple Crown title. Andy would need to make the final of the Xbox to take the Vans Triple Crown title away from Paterson.

Pipeline wildcard specialists put in another solid showing today, with six of the original nine wildcard recipients still in the draw at round three stage. They aree Jamie O’Brien, Pancho Sullivan, Marcus Hickman, Kalani Chapman, and former Pipeline Masters champions Derek Ho and Bruce Irons.

“I’m glad I got this round out of the way,” said Bruce, of his second round heat. “Because I heard there is a nice big swell coming (next week) and that’s when the damage will hopefully get done. One of the wildcards could even win the contest. They’re some of the best surfers at Pipe and they’re going to be a big threat.”

Looking ahead, just one day of competition remains to round out this year’s Xbox Pipeline Masters and Vans Triple Crown series. It is expected that the final day will not be held tomorrow, due to a continued decline in surf heights. A new northwest swell is forecast for early in the week, possibly topping the heights we saw yesterday of 12 feet.

When competition resumes, it will be with the third round, quarterfinals, semis and final. This event will conclude the 2003 ASP World Tour and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and will crown the world champion and Triple Crown champion. The women’s titles were decided yesterday, with Australian Layne Beachley winning her sixth consecutive world crown with a second-place finish in the Billabong Pro Maui. Hawaii’s Keala Kennelly won the women’s Vans Triple Crown title.

Round 1: (1st to round 3, 2nd & 3rd will be reseeded into round 2)
H1: Marcus Hickman (Haw) 14.66, Tom Whitaker (Aus) 13.74, Daniel Wills (Aus) 10.0
H2: Tim Curran (USA) 15.16, Nathan Hedge (Aus) 8.83, Jake Paterson (Aus) 6.9
H3: Victor Ribas (Brz) 13.83, Fred Patacchia (Haw) 12.94, Taylor Knox (USA) 2.33
H4: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.0, Bruce Irons (Haw) 14.4, Paulo Moura (Brz) 1.23
H5: Jamie O’Brien (Haw) 16.76, Trent Munro (Aus) 15.73, Kieren Perrow (Aus) 15.44
H6: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 16.33, Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.73, Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 10.97
H7: Derek Ho (Haw) 16.27, Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 11.83, Mick Fanning (Aus) 9.33
H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 17.03, Kalani Chapman (Haw) 12.33, Richard Lovett (Aus) 4.43
H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.5, Kalani Robb (Haw) 8.9, Brian Pacheco (Haw) 4.43
H10: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 11.17, Jonah Morgan (Haw) 10.34, Taj Burrow (Aus) 8.33
H11: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 9.73, Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 7.44, Luke Egan (Aus) 6.24
H12: Shea Lopez (USA) 12.33, Danilo Costa (Brz) 6.83, Chris Davidson (Aus) 5.4
H13: Dean Morrison (Aus) 8.56, Toby Martin (Aus) 6.4, Beau Emerton (Aus) 5.07
H14: Cory Lopez (USA) 16.87, Luke Stedman (Aus) 15.17, Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 10.2
H15: Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.5, Shane Dorian (Haw) 15.8, Shane Powell (Aus) 2.5
H16: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 14.0, Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 9.67, Lee Winkler (Aus) 7.73
Round 2: (1st & 2nd to round 3, 3rd & 4th eliminated =33rd, $3,000)
H1: B. Emerton (Aus) 13.8, K. Chapman (Haw) 13.33, C. Davidson (Aus) 12.2, T. Burrow (Aus) 4.53
H2: M. Fanning (Aus) 12.17, N. Hedge (Aus) 11.5, B. Pacheco (Haw) 8.44, F. Padaratz (Brz) 5.83
H3: K. Perrow (Aus) 13.33, P. Moura (Brz) 11.17, J. Morgan (Haw) 7.5, S. Powell (Aus) 1.26
H4: P. Sullivan (Haw) 14.93, T. Munro (Aus) 13.17, T. Knox (USA) 10.77, L. Winkler (Aus) 4.2
H5: B. Irons (Haw) 17.1, P. Rosa (Brz) 10.56, S. Dorian (Haw) 9.17, J. Paterson (Aus) 6.27
H6: D. Wills (Aus) 10.83, G. Herdy (Brz) 6.06, F. Patacchia (Haw) 5.33, L. Stedman (Aus) 5.1
H7: K. Robb (Haw) 16.93, L. Egan (Aus) 11.9, T. Martin (Aus) 3.13, T. Whitaker (Aus) 1.74
H8: M. Occhilupo (Aus) 11.0, F. Gouveia (Brz) 10.5, R. Lovett (Aus) 4.96, D. Costa (Brz) 3.63

Draw for Round 3:
H1: K. Perrow, J. O’Brien, D. Hobgood, N. Hedge
H2: M. Occhilupo, V. Ribas, J. Parkinson, P. Sullivan
H3: L. Egan, F. Gouveia, S. Lopez, L. Hitchings
H4: G. Herdy, P. Rosa, A. Irons, M. Hickman
H5: K. Slater, K. Chapman, P. MacDonald, T. Munro
H6: D. Wills, T. Curran, D. Morrison, B. Emerton
H7: M. Fanning, D. Ho, K. Robb, P. Moura
H8: M. Lowe, B. Irons, C. Lopez, N. Padaratz