O’Neill Deep Blue open 2001 – Day 3

Himmafushi Island, Maldives, Monday 11th June 2001

Bustin Out at Jailbreaks

– O’Neill Deep Blue Open Round 1 Heats Kick Off ¿

Jailbreaks, a long walling right hander on the island of Himmafushi, wastheopening spot for the O’Neill Deep Blue Open and marked the start of thefirst ever professional surfing contest to be held in the Maldives. Thismorning as the fleet of surfers, media and ASP officials sailed in to thechannel they were greeted by ripperble 2-3 ft clean waves peeling off thereef. Jailbreaks got its name from the national jail that used to besituated on the island. The jail is no longer in use and the only inmate isthe long fast right hander that wraps itself so far around the point atHimmafushi Island it1s criminal. The decision to take the contest to’Jails’was made early this morning.

Matt Wilson the ASP contest director said

“At 5.30 this morning we checked the break of Lohi1s and it was blowingabout 30 knots on shore, the sky was dark and filled with rain, so itcertainly didn1t look like paradise this morning. We took the boat out overhere to Jails and the wind was offshore, the surf was still small, about 2¿3 ft but with the building tide we knew it was going to build which it isdoing and we1re seeing some great surfing out here. It is a wired backdropin the grounds of an old jail, but its unique break.”

The à'Å'Fathuh Ban1 a sixty-foot Deep Blue contest boat, housed thecompetitorsfor the day. While a team of jet bikes, skillfully driven by members of theever present Maldivian Surfing Association, ferried the surfers too andfromthe line up for their heats.

Sixteen, twenty five minute heats saw some fluid surfing from the round onecompetitors all hungry to progress in the event. Impressive progressivesurfing with whip lashing snaps saw massive fans of spray flying off ofevery turn as the surfers ripped up the glassy faces of this fast wallingjailbreak right hander. From the palm fringed edge of Himmafushi island theMaldivian Surfing Association rocked the jail with their huge sound systemwhile the Judging tower had a prime view of the contest.

ASP head judge Renato Hickel said.

“It was a good day today, taking when a tour comes to a new break wheresurfers have never competed before we usually see the guys trying to playitsafe and try to read the wave first. Today we just saw all the surfersreally going for it it was really good. At certain stages of the tide todaywe saw really long waves, really fast down the line and the surfers wherelaying down 10 to 14 turns. We weren1t expecting that level of surfingespecially in the first roundSWe saw a lot of technical maneuvers today andthat1s because we have the cream of the WQS guys. These guys are seriousabout making the cut to the WCT next year so we1re going to have a reallygood event!

Renato added

“This is my first time in the Maldives, I1ve been touring on the world tourfor 12 years now and I can honestly say its one of the top spots I havebeento, I1m really happy I came. With this type of competition format and suchan incredible destination, O’Neill have discovered a new frontier. A newsurfing destination is always exciting like when we first went to Tahiti afew years back. I1m positive that the Maldives is the new Shangrilar ofprofessional surfing, but also for the traveling surfer and surf trips. Ireally hope we can establish future competitions here.”

The Maldivian contingent that made it through the trials at Mali earlier inthe week, reveled in the opportunity to compete with the pro1s. Headed bytheir national champion, Ibu, the locals put on a good performance at theirhome break.

Hard surfing saw many of the Australian contingent boosting their waythrough to round two, with memorable heats from Chris Davidson in heat 13and Samba Mann in heat 12.

Among the European competitors to make it through to the next round wasGregPastuisiak from France.

“It went well today, II was so lucky to catch the good waves, early on intheheat then I was on a roll from there. I would like to have won but hey, Ican1t complain I1m through to the next roundSJails is a great wave, so fasteven when its so small, I don1t know if the contest will continue here butIhope so.”

“It was pretty fun out there.” Said heat 9 winner Kepa Acero from Spain. “There1s not a lot of waves for three people and the waves are small but itwas fun. I won my heat so I1m really happy. Jail1s is a really good wave Ireally enjoyed it. I1ve surfed Cokes and Lohi1s they are really good wavestoo. The Maldives are just amazing, when I flew in we saw all the islandsand it just blew me a way, I1m just so stoked to be hereSIt1s a reallyoriginal competition it1s so cool just hanging out in boats and surfingquality waves its great.”

Pablo Gutierrez of Spain also layed down a tidy performance to secure hisplace in the 2nd round.

“My heat went really well, the waves were small but a few bigger sets camein and caught one and scored, then after paddling back I got two morebiggerwaves. They were so fast and I finished first so I1m really happy. I thinkjail1s is a really good wave, I1d like to surf the others (breaks)STheMaldives as a surf destination is incredible, it1s the best place I haveever taken a trip to in my life. Loads of good waves, lefts and rights withpower. I1m just really happy to be here.”

The O’Neill Deep Blue Open has struck a cord with the surfers, officialsandmedia alike.

“With the WQS tour we are looking to mirror this years WCT dream tour andgothose hard yards for the QS surfers.” Said Matt Wilson from the ASP.”That1swhat O’Neill want to see and that1s what the ASP want to see. Its greatthatO’Neill share that vision. It1s viewed by the surfers as a positive andtheyrecognise that O’Neill what to go those extra yards to create unique eventslike this”

The second round starts tomorrow.

– END ¿

For further information and a full list of competitors, results, post eventimages and a press pack please contact Julian Howkins in the MaldivesT: +960 776901 E: julian.howkins@chilli-industries.net orjools90_uk@yahoo.comOfficial Website: www.oneilleurope.com