World Champion CJ Hobgood On Track
Teahupoo, Tahiti (Monday, May 13) World champion CJ Hobgood (USA) todaydominated the 2002 Billabong Pro Teahupoo with an outstanding performance.Round three of the men’s World Championship Tournament (WCT) was completed,with the first four heats of the fourth round following this afternoon.
Clean 4-5ft (1.5m) barrels were on offer, with conditions improvingthroughout the day. Adding to the danger at Teahupoo were deadly Stonefish,with numerous found and then killed by local fisherman along the shorelinejust outside the competition’s main setup.
Hobgood, who finished runner-up in last year’s Billabong Pro Teahupoo,posted the day’s only perfect 10, as well as the tournament’s highestoverall total against wildcard Conan Hayes (Haw) for 26.1-points. The23-year-old lead from the outset with two good rides, and while his opponentsecured a 9.0 midway, the Floridian answered back with his own disappearingact for a full point more from the judges.
“Obviously the waves got pretty good,” began Hobgood. “I saw Conan move upthe point and he ended up getting a 9.0, so I paddled way up there too and areally good set came. You want to get really deep for those 10’s, but it’sall about coming out. I knew that was going to be a really hard heat.
“I’ve finished second here twice, so I’d be so stoked to win the contest,”he continued. “Not only do you have to surf good, but the waves have to turnon for you to get those scores. Maybe I’ll get lucky and make the finalagain and we’ll see what happens.”
Defending Billabong Pro Teahupoo champion Cory Lopez (USA) staked a seriousclaim for his second consecutive title, eliminating VZ Hinano Trials winnerVetea ‘Poto’ David (Tah) with the second best total of the tournament for25-points. He left the local favorite needing a combination of ridestotaling 14.76, and now faces world #19 Luke Egan (Aus) in round four.
“The smaller waves breaking along the inside shelf seemed to be better and Iwas lucky to get few,” explained a relieved Lopez afterward. “It was a funheat as I got barreled.
“It wasn’t like I was going to hassle ‘Poto’,” he continued, of sittingfurther inside his opponent. “We gave each space and it just worked out Iwas in the right spot in the right time. Obviously he knows the spot likethe back of his hand. He was looking for the bigger waves, but that doublebarrel I got on my first wave really helped. I’m going to give it all I’vegot (another title).”
Brother Shea continued the Lopez momentum, overcoming six-time worldchampion and fellow Floridian Kelly Slater, and then WCT newcomer KierenPerrow (Aus). The goofy-footer dominated both matches, leaving 2000 Teahupoowinner Slater in need of 9.36-points, while Perrow was searching for acombination of rides worth 12.96 when their fourth round decider concluded.
“I’ve never beaten Slater before in a man-on-man heat,” exclaimed Sheafollowing his first win. “That was a big win for me. It’s Slater, and hehasn’t been on tour since he won five world titles straight. No one else hasdone that. Kelly’s the best there’s ever been and probably the best thereever will be.
“If there’s one event I want to win,” he added. “This is the best of theyear as far as I’m concerned.”
Current ratings leader Andy Irons (Haw) continued his run through the 2002event, eliminating Tahitian wildcard Heimata Carroll this morning, and thenShane Powell (Aus) in the day’s last heat. The Hawaiian, who won the 1997World Qualifying Series (WQS) tournament at Teahupoo, joins Shea in thesecond quarterfinal.
“That’s the latest I’ve ever surfed in a heat,” said Irons, after the sunhad already set during the Rosa match. “Those were the best waves I’ve seenin four days, so I was stoked. Powelly is a really good surfer and couldhave easily beaten me, but I was lucky.
“I’ve never made it past the 9th place round in conditions like these,” heecontinued. “I’ve done well when it’s bigger, but it’s really hard backsideat this size. I’m just really happy to be through to the quarters.”
World #7 Peterson Rosa eliminated fellow Brazilian Paulo Moura in roundfour. Having accounted for Maz Quinn (NZ) this morning, the 27 year old thenout-pointed his good friend in a high scoring heat to advance into thequarterfinals.
“It’s so hard to surf against a friend,” said Rosa late this afternoon. “Hesurfs so well here, so I knew it was going to be a tough heat. I like thesewaves, as I think the barrel is the best part of surfing. I enjoyed that.”
Australian Trent Munro today eliminated two Brazilians. First he eliminatedworld #18 Flavio Padaratz, before ousting Victor Ribas in their fourth roundmatch. Munro, who was named ‘WCT Rookie of the Year’ in 2001 following hisoverall rating of 14th, displayed fine form to move into the firstquarterfinal against Rosa.
“That last heat was pretty slow and I basically just sat there for10-minutes without a good wave,” explained Munro. “When they came I waslucky enough to get a 7.0 and then back it up with an 8.0.
“It’s the third contest into this year and I won the third last year,” headded, of winning his maiden WCT in Brazil. “Fingers crossed I can pull somemiracles off. Peterson has been surfing really well, but he’s definitelybeatable and hopefully I can do it.”
World #33 Shane Dorian (Haw) eliminated world #4 Taylor Knox (USA) in fairlyone-sided round three bout. The Hawaiian secured a series of high scoringrides to leave Knox in need of a combination of rides worth 14.41-points.He’ll now face Damien Hobgood (USA) in round four, who accounted for 2001WQS champion Mick Fanning (Aus) today.
“My basic game plan was just to go out there and catch waves and get into arhythm from the start,” said Dorian. “Seemed like a lot of people were tooselective ended up losing. I was just trying to better my score throughout,and that’s what I did.”
World #6 Kalani Robb (Haw) will meet world #24 Pat O’Connell (USA) in thefourth round, after the pair both won epic battles today. Robb eliminatedBeau Emerton (Aus) in the highest scoring match of the day, while O’Connellovercame Taj Burrow (Aus) in what proved another nail-biter.
A decision will be made tomorrow morning at 6:30am (local time) with thefinal day of competition probably recommencing soon after.
Official results of the Billabong Pro Teahupoo Men’s DivisionRound Four
H1: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 22.35 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 21.6
H2: Trent Munro (Aus) 19.6 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 17.75
H3: Shea Lopez (USA) 21.4 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 10.2
H4: Andy Irons (Haw) 20.0 def. Shane Powell (Aus) 17.0
H1: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 16.25 def. Maz Quinn (NZ) 5.5
H2: Paulo Moura (Brz) 18.5 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 17.35
H3: Trent Munro (Aus) 22.6 def. Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 9.65
H4: Victor Ribas (Brz) 17.15 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 15.15
H5: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 20.75 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 19.4
H6: Shea Lopez (USA) 18.6 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 10.3
H7: Shane Powell (Aus) 12.85 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 11.15
H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 21.75 def. Heimata Carroll (Tah) 16.65
H9: Cory Lopez (USA) 25.0 def. Vetea David (Tah) 13.75
H10: Luke Egan (Aus) 19.6 def. Renan Rocha (Brz) 12.9
H11: Shane Dorian (Haw) 22.4 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.35
H12: Damien Hobgood (USA) 21.75 def. Mick Fanning (Aus) 18.15
H13: CJ Hobgood (USA) 26.1 def. Conan Hayes (Haw) 17.65
H14: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 22.1 def. Lee Winkler (Aus) 10.5
H15: Kalani Robb (Haw) 24.6 def. Beau Emerton (Aus) 21.75
H16: Pat O’Connell (USA) 23.35 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 22.55