Billabong Pro Mundaka (Oct 9-21)
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Mundaka, Euskadi, Spain (Monday, October 14) Quarterfinalists were todaydecided in the 2002 Billabong Pro Mundaka. The US$250,000 World ChampionshipTournament (WCT) recommenced this afternoon with round four heats, and onlyeight surfers are now in contention for the winner’s US$30,000 prizemoney.
Clean 3-5 ft (1-1.5m) waves were on offer, with the occasional tube, thoughconditions deteriorated and became more inconsistent in latter heats.
Current #3 Michael Lowe played the patience game effectively against fellowAustralian and current #12 Mick Fanning first up. The goofy foot traileduntil the final minutes, before picking off his second wave and posting a7.75 for the win.
“Mick and I have come up against each other quite a lot this year,” saidLowe afterward. “I was luckily enough to beat him at his place on the GoldCoast (Aus), but the little bugger actually beat me twice at J-Bay (SAfr).Once in the first round and then in the final, so it was a sweet revenge forme to get him back at a lefthander.
“Having a bit of patience appeared to work again,” he continued. “Mick wasscratching around, but I knew it was the sets that would score the most, soI just tried to get two. I’m very happy about reaching the quarters, butAndy’s got such a big lead that it isn’t enough these days. I’ve just got tokeep on getting the job done.”
He’ll now face another Aussie in current #13 Taj Burrow, after the WestAustralian dominated his match with Sydney’s Luke Hitchings. Burrow securedan 8.75 and then the best single score of the day for a 9.15, as well as thehighest overall tally of 17.9-points. Hitchings required a combination ofrides.
“I wasn’t sure what board to ride and changed from a 6’1″ to my 5’11” justbefore,” explained Burrow of his equipment. “It felt great, but I nearlyspun out on a couple turns and even my highest score, I did fall at the end.Luckily I’d done enough for the score. I’m glad I got some, as Luke didn’treally.
“I want to smash him,” he added, of facing Lowe next. “That’s the bottomline. I’ve had three fifths already this year, so I’m looking forward togetting past the quarters. I’m going to try my absolute hardest. I’mfrothing.”
Current ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw) controlled his match with NathanHedge (Aus). The Hawaiian opened with a 7.0 and then collected a 7.85 for acomfortable lead. ‘Hog’ came back posting a 7.35, but still needed anotherride worth 7.51-points. Irons will now face Flavio Padaratz (Brz), after hedefeated Kalani Robb (Haw) today.
“Stoked with that heat,” said Irons. “I started off getting a good firstwave and was on a roll from there. My board felt really good and I’m lookingforward to the quarters.
“I’m confident and trying to do my own thing, but it’s hard not to look overmy should and see what the other guys are doing,” he continued, of hisnearest rivals. “Everyone is surfing so good, it’s just a matter of themcatching waves and having good luck. Hopefully the swell increases fortomorrow.”
Current ratings runner-up Luke Egan (Aus) ousted six-time world championKelly Slater (USA) in their highly anticipated heat. The Australian, whowent on to win his first tournament in two years after beating the Floridianin the semifinals at Trestles (USA) last month, again showed fine form underpressure.
“I’m not in Kelly Slater’s good books at the moment,” laughed Eganafterward. “I felt really good then, and am just trying to block out who I’magainst and better what I do each heat, and it seems to be working.
“I was flying down the line going, ‘please, where is it?'” he added, of hisbest 8.5 ride never barreling. “It didn’t, so I had to hustle and get somemoves happening down the end. That was probably the best wwave I’ve had atMundaka this year, so I was pretty stoked to have it come through holdingpriority in a heat. He’s capable of an eleven, but his last wave was reallysmall and not going to give him the 9.76 he needed. I was just stoked to getthrough.”
Slater, 30, fell on a couple of waves and ultimately required a 9.35following his last ride.
“I was having trouble reading what my waves were going to do,” admittedSlater. “I fell on a couple and got caught behind on one or two. There wasover a 10-minute wait and nothing came, so I just couldn’t get back in it.There weren’t any 10’s out there, so I wasn’t going to get it on one wave.
“It’s been good surfing Mundaka,” he continued. “Not a great event for me asI never felt confident with my boards and I don’t feel like I surfed greatthis week. It just never felt like it was happening for me, so I’m lookingforward to next event (Brazil) and we’ll see what happens there.”
Neco Padaratz (Brz) continued his dream run over current #5 Joel Parkinson(Aus). The Brazilian, who won last week’s WCT in France, today locked in aheat topping 7.4 to narrowly edge out his opponent in another slow heat forwaves. He’ll now meet Egan in the quarterfinals.
“It’s another step,” began Padaratz. “That’s one more goal and I’m waitingfor the next one. I’ve been watching the waves all day and they were good,but Joel and I were talking in the water, wondering what happened. We spentmore than half the heat just looking at each other without the ocean moving.He’s a good friend and we always push each other. It was a pleasure to beout with him, especially since I think he’s one of the best of the moment,but someone has to go. It’s good to continue.”
Parkinson, who won the season’s opening WCT, later said he’d made too manybad decisions, both prior to and during the clash.
“I rode the wrong board, made bad decisions and just surfed like a kook,”reasoned Parkinson. “Neco is in form. He won last event and I hope he goeson to win again. I didn’t deserve to get through. He surfed ten times betterthan I did. My focus after the past four events feels like it’s gonesideways, so I’m looking forward to the break before Brazil.”
Kieren Perrow then eliminated fellow Australian Phil MacDonald in their onesided affair. The current #14 picked off two 6+ scores, while his opponent’sfirst 8.0 ride was the only he caught during the 25-minute clash. Perrow nowfaces another Aussie in the fourth quarterfinal, after Beau Emertonaccounted for Fabio Gouveia (Brz) in the day’s final match.
“Take it when you can get it, I guess,” said Perrow. “It’s a bummer for Philcause it’s not really a heat when it’s like that. It’s not competition, butI’m stoked (laughs). He only needed a wave, but I was hoping if one came I’dbe able to hold him off with priority.”
A decision will be made tomorrow morning at 8am (local time) for a possiblestart to the final day of the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
Official results of the Billabong Pro Mundaka round four (1st >quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
H1: Michael Lowe (Aus) 14.4 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 11.65
H2: Taj Burrow (Aus) 17.9 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 10.75
H3: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 12.9 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 12.6
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 14.85 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 13.6
H5: Luke Egan (Aus) 16.0 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.9
H6: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 13.15 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 12.35
H7: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 12.65 def. Phil MacDonald (Aus) 8.0
H8: Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.25 def. Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 10.85
Upcoming quarterfinals (1st > semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Michael Lowe (Aus) vs. Taj Burrow (Aus)
QF2: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) vs. Andy Irons (Haw)
QF3: Luke Egan (Aus) vs. Neco Padaratz (Brz)
QF4: Kieren Perrow (Aus) vs. Beau Emerton (Aus)