Thurso, Scotland, Monday 2nd May, 2006
It was a spectacular ending for a spectacular surfing event. Before proud parents and an enthusiastic local crowd, British surfer Russell Winter scored a gigantic stand-up barrel to post a perfect 10 and win the inaugural O’Neill Highland Open in Thurso, on the north coast of Scotland.
With sensational 4-6ft surf on hand, the final against tube-riding expert Bernardo ‘Pigmeu’ Miranda (BRZ) was a barrel-fest of Hawaiian proportions. Despite a series of high-scoring waves by the Brazilian, it was Winter who made the most out of Brims Ness’ gargantuan right-hand barrels. In addition to the perfect 10, the Briton scored a second huge tube to post an 8.33 and secure the win.
Winter’s parents, who frantically paced up and down the beach throughout the final, were absolutely ecstatic after the win.
Russell made the final by defeating Australian young gun Luke Munro, while Miranda qualified by edging out Basque Country powerhouse Aritz Aranburu. All four semifinalists have won spots in the upcoming O’Neill Mission, which takes place from the 27th May to 3rd June. Dubbed the ultimate free-surf challenge, the Mission will place a total of eight surfers aboard a luxury yacht to compete and hunt for waves around the paradise islands of Tahiti and Moorea.
Aranburu, who hails from the small Basque town of Zarautz, said he could not believe his luck. After scoring amazing surf on the north of Scotland, he said he’s ready to head south and get barreled in warmer climes.