Hossegor, France (Saturday, Aug 26, 2000). Current world number-six Rob Machado (USA) was one of many top surfers to be eliminated today from the Hossegor Rip Curl Pro. In messy 4-foot conditions, world number-two Taj Burrow and defending event champion Mick Lowe (both Australian) also lost in round three. Adding to the days’ drama was a fight that broke out between Mick Campbell (Aus) and Andy Irons (Haw) following their match, resulting in severe penalties from ASPs.
Machado, 26, who won last weeks World Championship Tour (WCT) event in Lacanau, France, and regained a top-10 ratings position was today beaten by fellow countryman and WCT rookie Ben Bourgeois. Despite having won at Hossegor twice before in 1997 & ’95, he was unable to find the waves his opponent managed.
“I can’t take anything away from Ben,” Machado said afterward. “He found an eight and a 6.75 in the first five-minutes and there’s not a lot of high scores out there. I was just hoping to scrap together a couple of sixes and get back in the game. In the end I still needed a seven and it was really hard to find a wave you could perform on to get that kind of a score. That’s just the way life goes.”Bourgeois, currently rated equal 39th, qualified in 1999 for the WCT and today’s result marks his highest so far. Though obviously pleased with the outcome, he was his humble self when explaining what happened during their 30-minute heat.
“I just got really lucky,” said Bourgeois. “There’s not many very good waves out there at all and I just got two that kind of lined up a little bit and I guess they (the judges) gave me some scores (laughs). He (Machado) usually waxes (beats) me, so I’m stoked.”
World number-two Taj Burrow continued his poor form of late, earning a fifth third round loss of eighth starts to United Kingdom surfer Russell Winter. Winter, currently rated 39th with Bourgeois, also down played the victory and admitted conditions were a major factor.
“It was basically a bit of luck in that heat, really,” Winter reasoned. “Taj is a good enough surfer to beat anyone, so I was just lucky he didn’t get the wave at the end. I think we both screwed up priority out there once or twice, but the luck just sort of went my way. I found a nice one down off the peak, so I was pretty happy.
“I feel like I’m at home out there as I’ve surfed here for so long,” said the only remaining European competitor. “The crowd and support I’m getting is really good. I’ve been confident this whole European trip. I’ve got good boards and with people behind me it’s given me a lot of confidence. If I get the waves I think I’ll do well, but there’s a lot of luck involved out there, so we’ll see.”
Defending Hossegor Rip Curl Pro champion Mick Lowe was the other major upset today, being accounted for by Hawaiian Ross Williams. Lowe beat fellow Aussie Mick Campbell in 1999’s final.
Campbell, currently rated third, found himself involved in one of the worst displays of public aggression ever seen at a WCT event following his match against Andy Irons. Irons led the heat up until Campbell’s final ride, and when he confronted the Australian afterward, in clear view of media and the public, the Hawaiian let out a barrage of verbal abuse. Campbell responded by punching him, and a scuffle ensued until security pulled the two fierce competitors apart. ASP management quickly issued a US$3,000 fine to Campbell, while Irons was handed a lesser penalty of US$500 for his part. Further action may be taken once the ASP Board has a chance to review the incident.
On a positive note, current number one-and-two on the ratings, Sunny Garcia (Haw) and Luke Egan (Aus), both survived close calls today. Egan narrowly defeated Hawaiian Conan Hayes, while Garcia was lucky to dispose of wildcard entrant Frederic Robin (Fra) after a couple of heat saving waves near the end.
“I probably sound like the same recording,” Garcia reasoned afterward. “But every time my heat comes around there are no waves. Frederic got an eight-point ride and if he had paddled in and got another backup wave he probably would have beaten me. I’m not happy with my heat, but I’m happy to advance and that’s the way it goes.”
Event giant killer Toby Martin (Aus), the surfer who accounted for current world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) in round two, then current world number-four Jake Paterson (Aus) the following round, was today struck by unfortunate luck after cutting his foot during a free-surf. Currently rated 43rd in the world, Martin was practicing for his upcoming match with Hawaiian Kalani Robb when he was hit by his surfboard and required medical attention. It is uncertain if he will be able to compete tomorrow morning, though his determination may see him try.
“I just went for a little free-surf and the top of my board caught my foot and cut a little vee in it,” Martin explained before being taken to hospital. “I think I was having too much luck before that and now luck’s run out. It didn’t feel too good straight afterward, so I can’t imagine it will be too good for tomorrow. But I’d have to be dead before I didn’t surf.”
DEFENDING WOMENS CHAMP ALSO ELIMINATED
Defending women’s Hossegor Rip Curl Pro champion Rochelle Ballard (Haw) was another casualty this afternoon, when the women’s quarter-finals took to the water. Up against current number-two Megan Abubo (Haw), Ballard led for the majority of heat until her younger opponent found two good rides toward the end.
Abubo, 22, now meets current number-three Serene Brooke (Aus) in the second semi-final, while two-time world champion and current ratings leader Layne Beachley (Aus) will come up against current number-four Tita Tavares (Brz).
Official Results of Hossegor Rip Curl Pro Day Five
Men’s Round Three
Heat 5: S Dorian (Haw) 18.85 def. T Prestage (Aus) 17.10
Heat 6: T Knox (USA) 21.75 def. P Rosa (Brz) 20.10
Heat 7: A Daltro (Brz) 16.75 def. S Beschen (USA) 15.60
Heat 8: S Garcia (Haw) 16.55 def. F Robin (Fra) 16.30
Heat 9: L Egan (Aus) 16.90 def. C Hayes (Haw) 16.90
Heat 10: L Hitchings (Aus) 18.00 def. R Lovett (Aus) 17.90
Heat 11: B Bourgeois (USA) 18.85 def. R Machado (USA) 16.65
Heat 12: F Gouveia (Brz) 21.65 def. G Herdy (Brz) 16.80
Heat 13: M Campbell (Aus) 20.80 vs. A Irons (Haw) 19.20
Heat 14: R Williams (Haw) 18.85 def. M Lowe (Aus) 16.40
Heat 15: R Winter (UK) 18.15 def. T Burrow (Aus) 16.55
Heat 16: S Lopez (USA) 20.90 def. G Emslie (SAfr) 17.85
QF1: T Tavares (Brz) 20.25 def. M Redman (Aus) 15.90
QF2: L Beachley (Aus) 17.65 def. P Menczer (Aus) 14.15
QF3: M Abubo (Haw) 17.40 def. R Ballard (Haw) 17.35
QF4: S Brooke (Aus) 21.50 def. K Skarratt (Aus) 16.50