Sunday 9th April 2006:
4 Star Vodafone Open Men’s World Qualifying Series Event
Padaratz Creates History by Winning the Vodafone OpenRugby League Legend Andrew Johns Charges Big Sunday at Merewether Brazilian surfer Neco Padaratz has made history at the Vodafone Open presented by Billabong at Newcastle today by winning through 12 heats from the opening round six days ago to claim victory in the ultimate final.
In heavy 3m swells, Padaratz defeated Sydney’s Jarrad Howse in spectacular form, coming from behind and riding an awesome 8ft tube ride, posting the highest scoring wave of the event, a 9.93, and sending the 10,000 strong Newcastle crowd into screams.” That barrel was unbelievable, I will never forget that, the first time I have ever surfed Merewether,” said Padaratz.” I have never seen Newcastle this big, it’s such a good present.” “It was an amazing event, the swell went right down and came right back up, and I’m happy with the whole crew.” “I knew that I had to do a lot of things in the whole contest and every wave,” he added.” The waves haven’t been like this in the whole event but these are the kind of conditions that I like the most because it gives everyone the opportunity to show how they surf.” It was a welcome return to the winner’s dais for the powerful natural footer who was the first surfer to ever be suspended from competitive surfing for testing positive to a banned substance in 2005. Having all seeding points stripped, serving a six month ban and now forced to start from the first round of every event this year, Padaratz proved today that despite all adversity he is still a dominant force in world surfing. “There are a lot of things that I have to learn,” said Padaratz.” I just want to thank everyone in Newcastle for this contest.”
Padaratz was unstoppable throughout the final holding a solid 7.83 score to back up his 9.93 ride to put the result well beyond doubt. The win has lifted him to fourth position on the men’s World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings. It was the end of a great tournament for Howse, with second position an excellent confidence boost for the rookie World Championship Tour (WCT) surfer. Answering back to the Brazilians high score with an 8.67 early in the 30-minute final, Howse had the Australian faithful on his side but failed to find the 9.10 he needed to steal event victory.Finishing equal third in today’s competition was Manly’s Kai Otton and Central Coast surfer Drew Courtney (Umina). For the first time in the 21 year history of the event, the final day of competition was forced to relocate from the Newcastle Beach main contest site due to today’s massive swell, shifting 2km south to Merewether.
Torquay’s Nic Muscroft was the highest placed Victorian surfer and was on the back foot early in his Quarter Final match up against Padaratz, breaking his board on his first ride.
The set backs didn’t stop there for the natural footer as his opponent notched up two near perfect nine point rides, putting the heat well beyond reach. “I’m pretty stoked with that result,” said Muscroft. “I was hoping to do one heat better to crack 1000 (WQS) points but I guess that will have to do for now.”
“Neco is a man on a mission that’s for sure and he was unstoppable with those two nines,” he added.
Gold Coast surfer Corey Ziems (Currumbin) struggled to find any wave of consequence in his Quarter Final match-up against Howse today.
Securing his best ever result in a 4 star rated event, his two wave scores of 4.17 and 3.40 weren’t enough to see him through to the Semi Finals.
In the Luke Egan tribute Expression Session today, Australian league legend Andrew Johns lined up alongside fellow Newcastle stalwarts in four times world champion Mark Richards, Luke Egan, Matt Hoy and Simon Law in solid 8-10 foot waves.
After a dominating 54 points to 6 performance by the Knights over the Dragons last night and scoring 22 points of his own in the face of injury, Johns conqquered the massive swells at Merewether today with a little trepidation. “I think I was out of my league there,” said Johns. “here was no way I was going out and Hoyo and
Luke talked me into it and they said they would look after me, it was a rush but I was terrified.”
“There were some big ones out there, the boys were screaming me onto a few, it was definitely one to remember.”
Johns was thrilled to be surfing alongside some of the biggest names in the sport and came out unscathed from the monster session.
“They are folklore in this town,” said Johns. “Especially Merewether, in their home town they are gods, to be invited and to be part of that is something special.”
The Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong is supported by the NSW Major Events Board, NSW Tourism, NBN Television, NEW FM and The Herald.
Jarrad Howse 11.17 (NSW) def Cory Ziems 7.57 (QLD)
Kai Otton 14.00 (NSW) def Leonardo Neves 11.67 (BRZ)
Neco Padaratz 18.70 (BRZ) def Nic Muscroft 12.34 (VIC)
Drew Courtney 11.50 (NSW) def Kieren Perrow 7.80 (NSW)
Jarrad Howse (NSW) def Kai Otton (NSW)
Neco Padaratz 13.83 (BRZ) def Drew Courtney 7.66 (NSW)
Neco Padaratz 17.76 (BRZ) def Jarrad House 12.84 (NSW)