Round one of the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) was completed, though no surfers have been eliminated at this stage of the US$260,000 event.
Good 3-4ft (1-1.3m) conditions remained throughout the day. Due to the A-frame peak setup at Lower Trestles, competitors were in a constant state of battle as they positioned for the ideal rides, and without priority being allocated in opening round heats, interferences became commonplace.
Defending Boost Mobile Pro winner Richie Lovett (Manly, AUS) took out the day’s most stacked heat, overcoming the highly touted Californian wildcard Dane Reynolds, as well as reigning two-time world champion and current ratings leader Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW). The Australian began his campaign with the best score of the clash — an 8.5 – and despite momentarily losing his lead to Reynolds towards the end, the current ratings #19 picked off a long lefthander and worked it over for a needed 7.93. Irons, meanwhile, became involved in a couple of paddling tussles and ultimately lacked necessary points. He’ll now face Reynolds in tomorrow’s ‘losers’ round.
“On paper it was always going to be a really hard heat, and in the water it proved the same, acknowledged Lovett. “We were all itching for more waves, and I was lucky to get a left towards the end. I knew all eyes would be on Andy out there, so I wasn’t feeling any pressure at all. Those guys are capable of such big scores, so thankfully for me it didn’t eventuate for them.
“It feels really good to be back here, he continued. “I’m really comfortable with this wave and I like the area. I’m just trying to keep the same head space I had last year and plod along. Hopefully the result will be the same.
Six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) was in top form to beat former world #2 wildcard Rob Machado (CA, USA) and Paulo Moura (BRA). The 32-year-old last night won the prestigious Surfer Poll Awards for a record 10th time, but showed no signs of having celebrated too much with a stellar performance today on both the left and righthanders. The current ratings #3 smashed his opponents with a 9.0 and 8.5 in his tally.
“I was pretty psyched, said Slater. “Last night felt great and got me excited and pumped up. I started the heat quickly and snuck a few waves under Rob and Paulo. I rode a new board, but it felt good and the lefts were scoring really high. It just feels great to have this whole atmosphere around an event in Southern California. For a couple of years we didn’t have a contest on tour here, but we all thought it was real critical to get back, especially at Trestles since it’s the best wave around.
Australian Trent Munro later upped the ante, posting the best single and combined scores with two near-perfect 9.5’s to dominate fellow countrymen Danny Wills and Nathan Webster. The 25-year-old unleashed a brilliant forehand attack on a couple of long righthanders for the massive lead and easy progression into round three.
“Those righthanders ended up being really good waves, explained Munro. “After I had one 9.5 I just wanted to have fun, but I guess luck was on my side. I haven’t really had too many 9’5’s this year, so to start off an event like this with two of them in my first heat is pretty good. Let’s just hope I haven’t burnt my luck out too early.
Local Californian Pat O’Connell won a great exchange over Boost Mobile wildcard Jamie O’Brien (HAW) and 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood (FL, USA). The current ratings #18 came alive towards the end to seal victory over the young Hawaiian, while Hobgood — winner of the previous WCT in Japan, couldn’t find the same rhythm and required a combination of scores to catch up.
“I’ve got some really good boards, which is an advantage to being at home, reasoned O’Connell. “I felt super confident, as I’ve surfed those lefts a thousand times.
Cory Lopez (FL, USA) won a major heat over Taj Burrow (West AUS) and Bruce Irons (Kauai, HAW). The Floridian locked in a couuple of great lefthanders, while both opponents found themselves on the receiving end of interference calls.
“I got off to a good start, but it was a real hard heat with Bruce Irons and Taj Burrow, said Lopez. “I’ve been stressed out about it all week, but those guys got interferences and I was able to weather the storm and get through it. It’s such a perfect peak out there, so everyone is sitting close, and when the waves come it’s a dogfight.
Brazilian Armando Daltro secured a crucial win. The current ratings #47 faced the daunting prospect of world #5 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS) and Kalani Robb (HAW), but opening his account with a great 8.33 ride, and consolidated the lead to already equal his best result of the season.
“It was a big opportunity for me to make it through to the third round, reasoned Daltro. “I hope to surf well in the next heat as I need to make more (laughs).
South Africa’s sole representative on the WCT, Greg Emslie, took out the first heat of this year’s tournament. Despite becoming tangled with opponent Chris Davidson (AUS) after the pair caught an opening wave together, the current ratings #38 picked off another couple of good waves for a combined total of 15.5-points to advance directly to round three.
The third annual Boost Mobile Pro of Surf Presented by Quiksilver is the only WCT event held in North America. For complete coverage: www.boostmobilepro.com. Round two will resume tomorrow morning at 8:30am (local time).
Boost Mobile Pro Round One Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd, 3rd>Rnd2)
H1: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.5; Michael Lowe (AUS) 9.9; Chris Davidson (AUS) 2.54
H2: Cory Lopez (USA) 14.3; Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.89; Bruce Irons (HAW) 9.25
H3: Jake Paterson (AUS) 15.26; Victor Ribas (BRA) 14.33; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.93
H4: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.16; Peterson Rosa (BRA) 13.04; Shane Beschen (USA) 10.08
H5: Luke Hitchings (AUS) 14.57; Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 12.74; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 11.17
H6: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.77; Eric Rebiere (FRA) 13.23; Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 12.1
H7: Armando Daltro (BRA) 15.9; Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.64; Kalani Robb (HAW) 11.66
H8: Richard Lovett (AUS) 16.43; Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.96; Andy Irons (HAW) 7.83
H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.5; Rob Machado (USA) 13.2; Paulo Moura (BRA) 12.43
H10: Pat O’Connell (USA) 16.43; Jamie O’Brien (HAW) 15.67; CJ Hobgood (USA) 11.4
H11: Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.37; Tim Curran (USA) 14.17; Beau Emerton (AUS) 9.6
H12: Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 16.6; Neco Padaratz (BRA) 15.87; Luke Egan (AUS) 13.4
H13: Michael Campbell (AUS) 12.43; Taylor Knox (USA) 12.06; Toby Martin (AUS) 11.87
H14: Trent Munro (AUS) 19.0; Daniel Wills (AUS) 14.27; Nathan Webster (AUS) 10.07
H15: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.73; Lee Winkler (AUS) 12.5; Kieren Perrow (AUS) 7.67
H16: Troy Brooks (AUS) 15.5; Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 14.2; Sunny Garcia (HAW) 8.93