Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
World Champion Hobgood Eliminated By ‘Rookie’ Perrow
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia (Thursday, April 4th) World champion CJHobgood (USA) was today eliminated from the 30th Anniversary Rip Curl Pro bynewcomer Kieren Perrow (Aus). Round four of the US$250,000 WorldChampionship Tournament (WCT) was completed, with the final rounds expectedto resume tomorrow morning.
Consistent 3-5 ft (1.5m) surf was on offer, with onshore winds and rainpatches affecting the lineup sporadically.
Perrow, 25, finished 7th last year on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) toearn his position on the elite tour. Against Hobgood this morning heinitially trailed, but after locking in the best score of 8-points to takethe lead, good waves failed to emerge for more than 10-minutes and theAustralian advanced. He’ll now face last year’s event runner-up and fellowByron Bay resident Danny Wills, who dominated his heat today against anotherWCT newcomer, Australian Lee Winkler.
“I can’t believe it,” said Perrow afterwards. “12-minutes to go, Idefinitely thought another set would come and maybe we’d both get a wave. Iwas thinking that CJ would get his score for sure, and that I’d have tochase him, but the ocean just went flat.
“I’m rapt, stoked to have gone through to the quarters,” he continued. “Youdon’t think you’re going to surf against someone from your hometown when youreach this level. It’ll be an interesting match-up.”
Hobgood, 22, was in command as the heat neared the halfway mark, butfollowing his opponent’s best ride, was unable to secure real points. Duringthe final minute he caught two waves, but neither offered much potential andhe consequently bowed out.
“I fell on a bunch of waves early, but I really didn’t it was going tomatter as there was so much time left,” said Hobgood. “I was sitting out theback waiting for a wave, but nothing came in. There’s not much you can do.Kieren surfed well.”
1998 Rip Curl Pro winner and 1999 world champ Mark Occhilupo (Aus) continuedhis amazing form, posting the highest total of the 2002 tournament for26.45-points. Against world #18 Flavio Padaratz (Brz), who also tore aparthis waves, the 35 year old unleashed the kind of attack only he seemscapable of at Bells. With long, drawn out bottom turns generating plenty ofspeed, the Australian flew down the line and belted the lip with precision,as well as executing one searing cutback, in particular, right in hisopponent’s face. By heat end, the Brazilian required a combination of ridesworth 10.71-points.
“It was fun,” began Occhilupo. “At the start I was selective, but then I gotsome good waves. I was pleased with how selective I was ’cause I didn’t wantto get out of rhythm.
“I’m feeling really good,” he continued. “My board is going great, but I’lljust take it heat by heat.”
Former world #2 Taj Burrow (Aus), who finished runner-up to Occhilupo in1999, will now face him in the quarterfinals. Burrows, 23, came back after aslow start against South African Greg Emslie to earn a 9.0, and thencollected two more scores for a convincing victory.
“It’ll be fun,” he said, of challenging Occhilupo. “He’s had some prettyincredible heats, so I just figure he’s peaked, or I hope (laughs). I justchanged onto a different surfboard and it goes a million times better. Ithink everyone struggles to find a good board for here, so I’m glad I have.I can’t wait to get out there again.”
Three-time Rip Curl Pro winner and 2000 world champion Sunny Garcia (Haw)continued his campaign to match the record of four Bells’ trophies. Againstworld #5 Jake Paterson (Aus), the 32 year old Hawaiian started a littleslower than his opponent, but then picked off an 8.15 and ultimately the winwith two more solid rides.
“I hate surfing against Jake, as he’s a family man, and for me beating himis taking away from his kids,” reasoned Garcia afterrward. “I know thefeeling ’cause I have three kids of my own. He’s a great guy, as well as areally good competitor.
“I know in order to be in world title contention, you have to be in thequarters or better at every event,” he added. “To be in the quarterfinals inthe Rip Curl Pro at Bells is incredible, considering the other day my backwas in so much pain when I surfed my heat.”
World #26 Nathan Hedge eliminated fellow Australian and world #14 TrentMunro. The heat went down to the wire with both posting high scores, though’Hog’ took control after two strong backhand rides toward the end. Munrocaught a wave in the final 20-seconds requiring a 5.61, but fell, losing anyhope of progression.
“Last year Trent got me in Brazil, in the quarters, and then went on to winthe contest,” recalled Hedge. “I’m pretty stoked to beat him. I didn’t thinkI surfed to my full potential, as I was a little bit nervous, but I ended upwith an 8.25 (best ride). Then I got lucky with a couple more and movedthrough.
“I’ve never surfed against Sunny, so yeah, bring it on,” he added, of facingGarcia in the quarterfinals. “I’ll just rise to the occasion, I hope.”
World #28 Renan Rocha (Brz) continued his backhand attack, eliminating world#16 Richie Lovett (Aus). The Brazilian created an early lead as his opponentwaited patiently, before Lovett secured the best ride of the heat for8.5-points. Paddling into his last ride after the Australian had caughtanother, however, Rocha only required a 7.01, and following a series ofstrong turns, raised his arms confidently in the air. The judges agreed,rewarding him an 8.0 and a berth in the quarterfinals.
“I was kind of nervous at the start,” explained Rocha. “Later on Richie gottwo big scores, so I had to comeback. I just prayed at the end. I knew thatset was coming, so I just believed in the wave.
“I’m very confident, but all the guys are really good surfers,” hecontinued. “It just depends heat by heat.”
World #10 Andy Irons dominated the day’s last heat against fellow Hawaiianand world #6 Kalani Robb. The 23 year old posted a 9.0, en-route to leavinghis close friend in need of 8.86-points. He now meets Rocha, who eliminatedhim from the Rip Curl Cup at the end of 2001 to spoil his then world titlehopes.
“That was unreal,” began Irons, after the win. “It was like old school. Iknow he surfs really well, and if he had of gotten the waves I did, heprobably would have beaten me. I surf with him all the time, and we’repretty competitive, but I definitely didn’t feel as nervous against him asin earlier heats.
“I’m feeling pretty psyched,” he added, of his upcoming quarterfinal.”Renan’s a tough competitor, and he’s beaten me before, so I’m just going toput my head down and hopefully get some payback.”
Quarterfinals in the Rip Curl Pro are likely to begin tomorrow morning, withthe semifinals and then grand finale following. A decision will be made by8am as to the day’s schedule.
Further information and Surfer Profiles: www.aspworldtour.com