Tom Whitaker’s 10 knocked Kelly out, but not before the champ claimed number 9. Photo courtesy Kirstin/ASP Covered Images
October 3, 2008: – – Mundaka, Basque Country/Spain – – Tom Whitaker (AUS) received an early birthday present from Mother Nature today. The soon-to-be 29-year-old Australian (his birthday is tomorrow) scored a perfect 10 to beat newly crowned nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater in Round 4 of the Billabong Pro Mundaka.
Whitaker's 10.00 – earned for deep barrel ride followed by an air-drop floater – was a hearty answer back to the 9.33 Slater posted early. Whitaker backed it up with an 8.00 to win the heat. "I guess I've got to thank Mother Ocean because she looked out for me there," Whitaker said. "That wave was phenomenal. I didn't really do anything, I just sat there and went down the line. It was a true Mundaka gem."
Slater secured his ninth ASP World Title by making his Round 3 heat earlier in the day. He lost his Round 4 heat by sitting on a 3.10 back-up score. Whitaker was pleased to advance but excited at the opportunity to get a front-row seat to the Slater Show too. "What do you do, he's the best in the world and he got a 9 on a wave I wouldn't have even looked at," Whitaker said. "It's Kelly's day, Kelly got his ninth here and it's good to be out here with him."
Whitaker's quarterfinal berth is his best of the season and marks a much needed result for the current World No. 27. Finishing as high as World No. 8 in 2006, and finishing the season at 13th in 2007, a successful Billabong Mundaka campaign should see Whitaker move up to a more characteristic region on the ratings.
Current World No. 2 Taj Burrow (AUS) is still going strong in Mundaka. He beat Taylor Knox (USA) in Round 4 and with Slater out of contention for the Billabong Pro crown, will look to win his first event of the season. "I knew it was going to happen here and good on him," Burrow said of Slater's ninth. "He had so many wins this season that I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner, but I'm glad he lost that last heat and I'm looking to take out the event."
World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) is through to the quarters after beating Kieren Perrow (AUS) and World No. 4 Adriano de Souza (BRA) is still charging too. "It's incredible for me to make the quarters in this event because for the past two years I got stopped in Round 4," de Souza said. "This year I wanted to improve on that so I'm really excited to make the quarters."
De Souza won a tight heat over Mick Campbell (AUS) to continue his dream run. He will join Durbidge and Burrow in the new race – ASP World No. 2. "If I have the opportunity I'm going to try, but for me it's still far away," de Souza said. "Taj is ripping, Bede put in a solid performance today – the guy is ripping. I'm trying my best. I had a great heat with Mick. He was smashing me but I had an opportunity in the end to take the win."
Luke Stedman (AUS) eliminated the defending 2006 and 2007 Billabong Pro Mundaka champion, Bobby Martinez, today. "Someone had just told me that he's never lost a heat in Spain," Stedman said. "I had forgotten that he's won the event twice and never lost a heat here." Adrian Buchan (AUS), who beat Slater to win the last ASP World Tour event in France last week, is also through.
"Obviously after that win in France I have a bit of momentum and a bit of confidence and there's a good vibe here in Mundaka," Buchan said. "I'm really stoked to be in the quarters." Billabong Pro Mundaka contest director Mike Parsons indicated that the event could wrap up tomorrow. An official call on competition at 9am tomorrow.
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Round 4 Billabong Pro Mundaka Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.27 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.00 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.73
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.50 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 5.83
Heat 4: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 18.00 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.43
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.84 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.17
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.50 def. Mikael Picon (FRA) 9.50
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.94 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.80
Heat 8: Luke Stedman (AUS) 15.00 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 8.63
Today's Round 3 Billabong Pro Mundaka Results:
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.93 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 11.33
Heat 6: Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.77 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.56
Heat 7: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.60 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 6.23
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.96 def. Eneko Acero (EUK) 10.00
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.00 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 8.27
Heat 10: Taylor Knox (USA) 13.27 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.93
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.77 def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 8.44
Heat 12: Mikael Picon (FRA) 15.64 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 14.23
Heat 13: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.5 def. Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 9.70
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.16 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 10.50
Heat 15: Bobby Martinez (USA) 13.50 def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 8.83
Heat 16: Luke Stedman (AUS) 10.84 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.10
Upcoming Billabong Pro Mundaka Quarterfinal Heat Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Luke Stedman (AUS)