6-Star WQS Salomon Masters Update From West Oz.

Salomon Masters (March 14-20) www.salomonmasters.com

Bico Classic www.bicoclassic.com

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) www.aspworldtour.com 2005 World Qualifying Series (WQS)

Performances Rise to Conditions

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 (Margaret River, Western Australia) Performance levels rose on cue today as conditions improved for the Prime rated 6-Star Salomon Masters. Clean 4-5ft (1.5m) surf greeted competitors at Surfer’s Point, with Margaret’s main break utilized, as well as nearby Southside for the opening round of this year’s Prime rated 6-Star women’s Bico Classic.

As 6-Star prime rated events, the Salomon Masters and Bico Classic are two of the most important World Qualifying Series (WQS) events on the 2005 calendar and play a significant part in determining World Championship Tour (WCT) positions for 2006. Subsequently, 252 surfers representing 16 nations have travelled to South-West Australia in pursuit of the dream.

Spanish surfer Jonathan Gonzales (Canary Islands) picked off the day’s best ride for a near perfect 9.93 score. Despite suffering an interference decision first wave, he responded with a perfect barrel the following righthander and then executed a series of critical manoeuvres. Combined with his final 6.4 score – which was halved due to the interference penalty – he managed to win over former WCT star Luke Hitchings (Bronte, AUS).

“The wave was so perfect, recalled Gonzales. “I like to surf the rights, so I just tried and was lucky. After getting the interference I knew it would be hard to make the heat, but that wave made the difference. I am so happy to be through.

Former World Championship Tour (WCT) star Shane Powell (Avoca, AUS) returned to the competitive arena with a massive heat win. Against current WQS ratings leader Bobby Martinez (CA, USA), the Australian sprung back into action with some brilliant rides and the day’s highest combined total (15.9 points) — despite having spent most of last season recharging from 15-years constant travel. Both he and Martinez have progressed into tomorrow’s round of 96.

“I basically had a year off as I needed a break, acknowledged Powell. “I spent most of the time just surfing and fishing, relaxing at home. This is a good contest to start the year off with, and if I do alright I might continue with the tour this year. I like coming to Margaret’s, and with it being a 6-Star Prime I’d love to win it.

Local West Australian’s Jason Duffy and Yadin Nichol together advanced past two Hawaiian opponents, with Duffy collecting a great 8.1 ride for the lead. With such a distinguished international field, local support is huge for both surfers.

“It’s really good to have an event like this in your backyard, and especially when you have a good heat, said Duffy. “I sort of got lucky then, but am stoked. It was sick to have Yadin out there too, a couple of local lads getting through.

2003 World Junior Champion Adrian de Souza (BRA) benefited from a last minute ride to ensure his advancement in the Salomon Masters. The Brazilian managed a 6.93 score to progress over Darryl Goodrum (USA), while Sydney surfer Andy King was unfortunately eliminated. King, who suffered an assault in Sydney last year that resulted in total hearing loss, has amazed peers with his successful return to competition – including a recent quarterfinal result at Pipeline, Hawaii

“My last wave was pretty good and now I get to stay in the main event, said de Souza. “This is my first time in competition in the Salomon Masters. I like Western Australia so much. It’s cold, but very good for waves. I am hoping to make the WCT for next year.

Gold Coast surfer Damon Harvey (AUS) controlled his clash, opening with a strong 8.17 ride. The goofy footer was quick to acknowledge the importance of the Salomon Masters for all surfers hungry to qualify for tthe elite World Championship Tournaments.

“This is the biggest event of the year, except for the last one in Hawaii, so it would be great to get a good result here, said Harvey. “It’s also my first contest of the year, so I’m hoping to start off really well and get on a roll.

Germany’s Marlon Lipke won the day’s opening heat, advancing together with local Salomon team rider Tom Innes. The 21-year-old was actually born and learned to surf in Portugal, but gained international recognition earlier this year when he placed third at the ASP World Junior Championships in Sydney.

“When the waves came through they were nice, explained Lipke. “I’m really happy to make it through, as this is a big event.

Other standouts included Hawaiian’s Joel Centeio and Jesse Merle-Jones, Brazilian Bruno Santos, Tom Dosland (USA), Australia’s Dayyan Neve (Manly) and Adam Robertson (VIC), together with New Zealand’s Maz Quinn.

Meanwhile, in the women’s Bico Classic at Southside, former WCT surfer Yvonne Byron (Wollongong, NSW) posted the opening rounds highest scores. The reigning Australian champion has been absent from the international scene in recent years, focusing attention instead on her two young children and teaching others to surf.

“I’ve got two kids now, and have just been competing domestically, explained Byron. “I’ll do the Aussie events this year and see how I go, but basically I’m a full-time mum now and work at a surf school, teaching people how to surf.

Local surfer Rebecca Sheedy Ryan showed knowledge of the break to win her opening match ahead of Japan’s Tahara Hiroe. Renowned for charging the bigger waves Margaret River usually offers up, she’s hoping swell increases for added advantage.

“This contest is always good, but this year’s it’s great because all the top girls are here and we get to watch them surf, said Sheedy Ryan. “Hopefully the waves get bigger.

Hawaiian Leilani Gryde is part of the international contingent contesting the Bico Classic. The 17-year-old has travelled to Margaret River for the first time this year, and following a couple of long lefthanders, advanced behind Perth’s Amy Johnson.

“It was alright out there, said Gryde. “This is my first time to WA, but I want to do well here, especially since I did badly at the event in Peru earlier this year.

Competition will continue tomorrow in both the Salomon Masters & Bico Classic.

The 2005 Salomon Masters and Bico Classic is proudly sponsored by Salomon, westernaustralia.com, Bico Australia, Department of Sport & Recreation, Tooheys Extra Dry, Coca-Cola, SunSmart, Odyssey 2020, Telstra Country Wide, Jim Beam, 92.9 ninety two.nine, Fin Control Systems (FCS), Evans & Tate, Margarets Beach Resort, Margaret River Law and Tracks.