Anglet, France (Sunday, Sep 3, 2000). Defending event and current world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) today survived his ‘losers’ round two heat, as did all top seeds surfing in the Billabong Pro. In 3-4 foot (1m) mostly clean conditions at Cavaliers, current ratings leader Sunny Garcia (Haw), his closest rival Luke Egan (Aus), and last weeks World Championship Tour (WCT) winner CJ Hobgood (USA) were among those who progressed into the third round.
Occhilupo, currently rated 15th, has had a poor run of results this season on the WCT, but is hoping to turn this around here, after having won the inaugural event last year. Against fellow Australian Toby Martin today, who knocked Occhilupo out in the same round only last week in Hossegor, France, the current world champ looked more on his game and claimed revenge.
“I didn’t want to lose that one,” said Occhilupo afterward. “I learned from my mistake last week. I gave him the first good wave and that didn’t happen then. I had a good start, but I was still worried. I didn’t have many good scores after my 7.75, but Toby’s got a cut on his foot and it’s hurting him a bit. I’m stoked to win – I haven’t had many. Hopefully I’ll be able to gain some momentum from that.”
Garcia, Egan and Hobgood also dominated their round two matches, eliminating wildcard opponents Fabrice Gelez (Fra), Tiago Pires (Port), and David Rastovich (Aus), respectively, from the tournament. Garcia admitting experience played a part in his win, since he has been burdened by the loss of a close friend this week.
“There wasn’t a lot of waves, but I was lucky I had a wildcard who was fairly young and inexperienced and I got him to take a couple of waves he shouldn’t have,” explained Garcia, the 14-year tour veteran. “That’s competition and good for me, bad for him. I’m just trying to get going. This week’s been really hard for me. One of my best friends from California (USA) passed away and being here in Europe, not able to go back and be at the funeral, it’s a little stressful for me. I’m doing the best I can and hopefully I can get through this and do good.”
Hobgood, currently rated equal fourth with another to advance today, Cory Lopez (USA), was especially happy with his win, acknowledging respect for opponent Rastovich afterward.
“I know how gnarly a surfer ‘Rasta’ is and he kept getting these barrels,” said Hobgood. “They were really good barrels, but when he came out the waves didn’t have much wall. If they did he would have scored seven’s and eight’s. It would have been really close, but I just got really lucky that he had some jitters, or what not, and I had three scoring waves. He’s such a good surfer with a lot of style and I was kind of scared beforehand, but I got lucky with two good scores.”
The highest total heat score of the round went to Brazilian Guilherme Herdy, who accounted for the United Kingdom’s lone WCT representative Russell Winter. Herdy let loose on a couple of waves, no doubt keen to finish one better than last year, when he placed second to Occhilupo. He will now face fellow Brazilian Armando Daltro in round three.
Official Results of Billabong Pro Day Five
Heat 1: S Garcia (Haw) 20.35 def. F Gelez (Fra) 12.65
Heat 2: L Egan (Aus) 18.15 def. T Pires (Port) 12.00
Heat 3: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.70 def. D Rastovich (Aus) 14.25
Heat 4: C Lopez (USA) 16.40 def. C Hayes (Haw) 15.30
Heat 5: M Occhilupo (Aus) 15.35 def. T Martin (Aus) 11.75
Heat 6: R Machado (USA) 17.70 def. G Ringrose (Aus) 15.65
Heat 7: S Dorian (Haw) 18.85 def. P Canning (SAfr) 13.15
Heat 8: S Lopez (USA) 18.00 def. P O’Connell (USA) 17.00
Heat 9: P Rosa (Brz) 18.15 def. S Sutton (Haw) 8.45
Heat 10: G Herdy (Brz) 21.60 def. R Winter (UK) 16.10
Heat 11: V Ribas (Brz) 16.95 def. B Bourgeois (USA) 14.35
Heat 12: A Daltro (Brz) 16.50 def. Y Sodre (Brz) 16.20
Heat 13: S Beschen (USA) 17.30 def. G Emslie (SAfr) 16.15
Heat 14: R Rocha (Brz) 20.30 def. R Williams (Haw) 18.85
Heat 15: D Wills (Aus) 20.25 def. T Curran (USA) 11.85
Heat 16: T Knox (USA) 17.65 def. B Emerton (Aus) 9.60