Elkerton & Richards Win Respective Masters Divisions
Bundoran, Ireland (Thursday, September 6th) Defending Masters champion Gary’Kong’ Elkerton (Aus) and four-time consecutive (1979-82) world championMark Richards (Aus) today created history by picking up another titleapiece, in the Masters (aged 35-43) and Grand Masters (44+) divisions of the2001 Quiksilver Masters. Competition ran right through from the Masters”surf-off’ clash this morning, into the quarterfinals and semis, and thenclimaxed this afternoon with the deciders.
Surf at ‘The Peak’ remained in the 3-4 foot (1.3m) range, with the sunshining, though the onshore wind continued to blow relentlessly.
Elkerton, 37, who was in commanding form all week, today created the dreamscenario by defending his 2000 Masters title with another victory. He beganthe 30-minute final against Dave Macaulay (Aus) by securing an 8.0 ride, butthen momentarily appeared in trouble when his opponent picked off a 9.0 foran early lead. ‘Kong’ answered straight back, however, with the second bestsingle wave score of the tournament, a near-perfect 9.8, and later collecteda 9.1 to eliminate any chance of defeat. His best three waves amounted to26.9 points, the highest of the entire contest, as well as any previousMasters event.
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” began Elkerton, on the tide-exposed reef afterward.”Last year was kind of emotional for me, this year I can’t believe Icouldn’t do it years ago (laughs). It’s just all happening now. It’s sobizarre.
“There were some really good waves in the final and I felt really strong,”he continued. “I know Dave was on fire, so two in a row, it’s unbelievableisn’t it? I could create a bit of havoc (by winning three consecutivetitles). I hope so (laughs).
“Everyone had their money on ‘Pottz’ (Martin Potter) this time, but I guessI’ll pick up my money now (more laughs).”
Later at the presentation awards, he dedicated the win to his nephew Taylor,Shirley Strachan (lead singer of Australian rock band ‘Skyhooks’), and MamaDavid (Tahitian surfer Vetea David’s mother). All of who passed away thispast month.
Macaulay, 37, who finished third on the ASP tour twice (1989 & ’93),impressed everyone with his attack all event, and surfed the final on aneven higher level. Many of his peers claiming he’s actually surfing betternow, than during his full-time touring years. Nonetheless, he wasn’t able toovercome Elkerton in the final, needing a combination of scores worth 10.91points.
“I’m stoked I could make it close at least,” began Macaulay afterward. “Iknew after the good wave I had that I was in the hunt. Then I saw the wavesthat he got, though. He just went to town out there.
“I make surfboards for a living,” he continued. “So this is good promotionfor my boards. This has certainly been a career highlight for me. I’mwrapped that some people are saying that I’m surfing better than I did onthe tour. That’s a real compliment, so I feel good about it, but I’m notactually going to jump back on tour, or anything like that (laughs).Basically, I’m at home most of the time enjoying the family life.”
Richards, 44, added another incredible achievement to his amazing careertoday. Having posted the highest single wave of 9.65 points, and as well asbest combined total of 26.35 in his division during today’s quarterfinals,’MR’ truly was in unbeatable form. He capitalized on this when it countedmost, defeating 1978 world and 1999 Grand Masters champion Wayne ‘Rabbit’Bartholomew (Aus) in their final.
Surfing with the same flair and talent that took him to the top of thesurfing world two decades ago, he rose above the field to win his firstMasters, and now a fifth world title. Against ‘Rabbit’, Richards picked offthe first wave and ultimately took a match that remained extremely closethroughout.
“You’re kidding me,” began a disbelieving Richards on the shorelineafterward. “I felt he had an edge over me with the waves I was riding. He’llbe hating me, won’t he (laughs). I’m so stoked. Ireland of all places.
“In the earlier heats today, during the quarter and semifinals, I knew thatI had them,” he continued. “In that final it didn’t seem like either of ushad a real advantage. I felt like I really needed one stronger wave at theend. I guess I didn’t, though!
“I’ve been on a serious eat and go to bed program. I’ve been missing all the(social) action (here), so I might have to get on the program tonight tomake up for it. One Guinness and I’ll be gone (laughs).
On stage to collect his trophy, he added, “It’s been 20-years since Iactually won something, so I don’t what to say. The judges gave me nines, soI totally love them.”
Bartholomew, 46, who actually cut his foot during the semifinals, chargedthe grand finale as if nothing else mattered. Midway through his third clashof the day, however, fatigue got the better of him, and he was unable tofind the energy reserves he needed to help secure the winning waves.
“It was a good final, but I ran out of steam,” admitted Bartholomewafterward. “I didn’t have the fitness, and it got to me. In the last12-minutes of that I was really feeling the pinch and it showed in the endresult.
“Guys on the World Championship Tour (WCT), they just show unbelievableenergy and strength,” he continued. “For the old guys it hard. Good on MR.In the end he was paddling strong. I’m still stoked to be able to makefinals and be a contender. I guess that’s what I’ve been my whole life, andin my division I still am (laughs).”
Finishing equal third in the Masters division was Mike Parsons (USA) and1989 world champion Martin Potter (UK). Parsons being eliminated byElkerton, while Macaulay stopped Potter’s run.
Parsons, 36, lead up until the final five minutes of their semifinal, beforeElkerton came back with a 9.5 and then sealed it on his last 7.0 ride soonafter. A similar situation unfolded the last time they met, in thequarterfinals of the 2000 Masters in France.
“Gary got me in the final five minutes of the last Masters as well,” laughedParsons. “I had a really good start and I felt like I kind of had him, butthen bam, bam. I knew if I gave him just a little opportunity that would beit. He just goes for it on every turn and you know you can’t hold back.
“I’m bummed I lost,” he added. “But hey, last year I got fifth, so a thirdthis year…. I’m just stoked to be here surfing with these guys. It’sunreal.”
Potter, 35, competing in his first Masters event, unleashed more of hisexplosive repertoire, including a small aerial on the inside section of oneright-hander. Macaulay was equally impressive on longer lefthanders, though,and gained the judges nod.
“I had a pretty good run throughout the event,” said Potter. “Got some goodwaves. The lefts just seemed to open up a bit more (then). I got a few goodright-handers and did some big snaps, but I guess length of ride was whatthey were looking for.
“I had fun,” he continued. “Pity about the conditions, but it was good tocatch up with a lot of good friends and reminisce about all the old days andjust have a bit of fun.”
Finishing equal third in the Grand Masters were defending champion MichaelHo (Haw) and 1997 winner Terry Richardson (Aus). Ho, 44, disposed of anin-form Bobby Owens (Haw) this morning, but needed a combination of ridesfor 10.51 points against ‘MR’.
“I did what I could do, but he was just better today,” reasoned Ho. “Ireally admire his surfing and I think he stepped it up a notch. I’m prettydisappointed not to get into the final, but that’s how the ball bounces.I’ll be back next year.”
Richardson, 45, who eliminated Simon Anderson (Aus) this morning, was unableto find the waves needed against Bartholomew. He took the lead at one point,but his opponent answered right back, leaving him searching for an 8.56ride.
“I’m stoked with a third,” said Richardson. “The waves sort of let me a downa little bit, in my performance. I just couldn’t find them, but that’s theway competition goes.”
Two-time (1983-’84) world champion and #1 see
d going into the Masters TomCarroll (Aus) finished equal fifth today. After winning the ‘surf-off’ clashthis morning ahead of Parsons, the result was then reversed when they met inthe man-on-man quarterfinals.
“Snips’ got a really good wave and my wave selection let me down,” saidCarroll. “I always come to win, but finishing fifth is a lot better thanlosing out in the surf-off this morning (laughs).”
Three-time (1985, ’86 & ’90) world champion Tom Curren (USA) also placedequal fifth, after losing an epic clash with Potter. The 37-year-old trailedthroughout, yet still managed to post a 9.0 on his final ride, and avoid thedreaded ‘combo’ situation, whereby a surfer requires two scoring waves toovercome their opponent.
“I knew it was going to be a hard heat,” said Curren. “He’s been prettymuch, for me anyway, the one. He’s been getting the high scores. I got oneat the end, but I guess I needed three of those, pretty much, to beatPotter.”
The Quiksilver Masters will not be held next year, but will return with abang in March 2003. The famed break of Sunset Beach, Hawaii, will host thelegends of the sport, where many of them carved out their illustriouscareers during the formative years of professional surfing.