Egan Wins Mundaka; World Title Race Continues

Saturday, October 16, 2004 (Mundaka, Euskadi, Spain) Australian Luke Egan (Gold Coast) today won the Billabong Pro at Mundaka. The Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) resumed with quarterfinals, before the US$260,000 event climaxed this afternoon. Meanwhile, the race for the 2004 ASP world title continues to the next anticipated event in Brazil (November 1-10).

Great 4-5 ft (1.5m) surf was on offer this morning. Long, hollow lefthanders continued, though deteriorating on the lower midday tide. Heavy rain persisted.

The all-Australian final against Phil MacDonald was a slow affair, as inconsistent conditions prevailed. Egan locked in the best score of the 35-minute decider for a 7.23, but his opponent took a slender lead following a 4.73 ride. With half the match still remaining, the 35-year-old waited patiently and eventually posted the 6.67 he required to take control. Six and a half minutes then elapsed without either surfing another wave, or the situation changing.

For Egan, the result marks his best result of the season and fourth WCT win. He moved one spot up the ratings to hold down fifth position, and earned US$30,000.

“This is crazy, said Egan on stage, after being carried from Mundaka’s harbor on the shoulders of fellow Australian contestants Joel Parkinson and Troy Brooks. “During the last five minutes of the final I was beginning to get weak. The waves were turning off, and I only needed a 4.0, but I knew I needed the next best wave of the heat or it was over. I’m so stoked, especially with all these people here watching in the rain.

“Phil’s been surfing smart heats the whole event and is always really solid, he added. “Down to the last 15-seconds it wasn’t won yet, as he’s capable of anything. Stoked to be in the final with him, and that five Aussies out of eight were in the quarterfinals today. That’s a big representation, which is sick. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.

MacDonald also secured his best result of the year, and equaled his highest ever with the runner-up finish. The 25-year-old eliminated reigning two-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) in the semis, which in essence kept the world title race alive until Brazil. Unfortunately the ocean didn’t co-operate more in the final, and he was left needing a score worth 7.4-points.

“It went flat for something like 15-minutes, and ‘Louie’ had the highest scores, explained MacDonald. “Then he got that 6.67 at the end, while I waited, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I hadn’t been in a final for a while, and it’s frustrating I haven’t been able to win one yet, but hopefully next time (laughs). Andy got me a fair bit last year, so it was good to get him back.

Equal third were Irons and his sole remaining title contender Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS). Both collected US$10,000 and will continue their battle next WCT.

For Irons, the result marks his third semifinal result of the season. Still, the 2002 Billabong Pro winner was out to clinch his third consecutive world title at Mundaka, and could have done so by placing at least one spot higher than Parkinson. Against MacDonald however, he was unable to find the 6.78 score he required during the latter half. The 26-year-old did better his ratings position though, and heading into Brazil remains a clear favorite to clinch this year’s crown.

“I was really stoked to make the semis, began Irons. “Phil surfed really smart and got some scores at the beginning. I feel pretty good going into Brazil, he continued.

“Florianopolis should be a great event, so hopefully we get some good waves there and I keep the roll going. I’ll be watching to see what Joel does. I think he’s going to be a threat for many years to come. He’s an awesome surfer and really talented. He’s really cool under pressure, so it’s a dangerous combination. Now that it’s between me and him, hopefully he gets second.

Parkinson remains the only surfer mathematically left in contention to stop Irons. Following the Kauaian’s elimination, ‘Parko’ was frothing to reach the final and improve his standing, but lacked a 7.28 score to do so against Egan. The 23-year-old did catch a last ride and land a couple of big floaters, but was rewarded slightly less for 6.5-points. For his campaign to continue past Brazil, the current ratings runner-up must win there, while Irons has to lose prior to the final.

“I couldn’t get over a 6.5 and the waves really deteriorated, reasoned Parkinson. “I was looking for the good ones, but ‘Louie’ got his eight and that was really the only one out there in that league.

“Game on, he added, of the next tournament. “I’ll just have to win, and that’s all I can try to do. I guess the past couple of days have been really dramatic for some people, but there was no point letting it get to me. The talk will continue to Brazil. Like I’ve said, Hawaii is my goal, so I hope to keep it going until there and have a chance.

Finishing equal fifth in the Billabong Pro today were Tom Whitaker (AUS), Damien Hobgood (FL, USA), Peterson Rosa (BRA) and Taj Burrow (West AUS).

Rosa secured his second consecutive quarterfinal finish, and Brazil’s best result at Mundaka. He has moved into 13th position on the ratings.

“It was a good heat against Luke Egan, said Rosa. “I’m happy to make the quarterfinals, as I did in France last event too. Hopefully I can do better in Brazil and finish highly this year.

Billabong Pro Mundaka Results
1st Luke Egan (AUS) 13.9 — US$30,000
2nd Phil MacDonald (AUS) 11.23 — US$16,000

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 13.6 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.6
SF2: Luke Egan (AUS) 13.77 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.0

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 14.37 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 7.24
QF2: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.33 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.43
QF3: Luke Egan (AUS) 15.4 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 13.5
QF4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.24 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.9

Official ASP Ratings after WCT #9/11
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 7,824-points
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6,396
3. Kelly Slater (USA) 6,192
4. CJ Hobgood (USA) 6,048
5. Luke Egan (AUS) 5,700
6. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 5,436
7. Damien Hobgood (USA) 5,124
8. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5,004
9. Jake Paterson (AUS) 4,776
10. Daniel Wills (AUS) 4,704

The Billabong Pro Mundaka is supported by prestigious co-sponsors such as Vans, Von Zipper, Hertz, Yamaha and Cobra Jet ski, as well as local companies and administrations such as Mundaka, the Mundaka Surf Club, The Basque Surfing Federation, Bakio and the Bakio Surf Club, BBK, Telefonica and the Basque Government.