Photos: Overhead And Freezing At The O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series In Thurso, Scotland

Booties? Check. Hood? Check. 5mm wetsuit? Check. Gloves? Check. Welcome to the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series Scotland leg…

O’Neill Cold Water Classic (CWC) Scotland by Swatch

2009 ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime
Event No. 2 of 5 on the 2009 O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series
Stop No. 3 of 12 on the 2009 ASP WQS European Tour
Thurso – Scotland
April 29 – May 6, 2009
Solid Thurso East Greets O’Neill Cold Water Classic Scotland Top Seeds on Day 4
THURSO, Thurso East, Scotland (Saturday, May 2, 2009) – The O’Neill Cold Water Classic Scotland by Swatch lived through its first marathon-day with testing weather and surf conditions giving a typical extreme Scottish experience to all ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime remaining competitors. From solid off-shore six foot (two meter) sets to wind-blown tricky waves, event top seeds had to face not only hungry underdogs but also changing rhythm and wave quality at the renowned break of Thurso East. With four days on the calendar before the 2009 edition crowns its Highlander, action is heating up as we move closer to the business end.

Today’s performances reflected the difficult surf conditions with very few competitors scoring over the 14.00 point total range (out of a possible 20) despite some impressive walls rolling-in at Thurso East’s righthand point break. Only ASP Top 45 member in the event, Drew Courtney (AUS), 30, was much expected for his start at the famous venue and the experienced man lost no time to lead Heat 1 and easily advance with a 14.50 point heat result.

“It was a pretty good heat for me with this couple of sevens and it was firing,” Courtney said. “I started off well with a 7.17 pointer then it took me a bit of time and a few average rides before I could get a second significant wave.”

Courtney, a rookie on this year’s ASP World Tour, is the only elite representative in the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Scotland by Swatch this year and will be a favorite when he paddles out for his Round 3 encounter against fellow Australian and former ASP Top 45 member Jarrad Howse (New South Wales, AUS), one of the O’Neill riders to please his sponsor today.

“I am stoked to come here and support O’Neill with their Cold Water Classic Series,” Courtney said. “It is a long trip for all of us on the World Tour to come here before heading to Tahiti for the next event but it is a great event and I am glad to get it started with a win.”

A whole pack of outsiders was in the starting blocks to try and cause some upset as Thurso East was delivering some excellent waves in the first half of the day and Uruguay’s rising star Marco Giorgi (URY), 20, wasted no time to control proceedings and advance. Giorgi, who hasn’t done worse than an equal 9th since he landed in Europe a month ago, impressed again in Heat 6 defeating top seeds Jack Perry (AUS) and Hira Teriinatoofa (Tahiti, PYF) with a 14.64 point combination, the third best of the event so far.

“It was a very hard time for me out there because I am really not used to such cold water,” Giorgi said. “I have no experience surfing with booties and every duck-dive is a mission out there. That win is just another great thing for me and Europe has been good to me for a month now. I wanted to get the job done and once I had these two good scores I did not try any spectacular stuff, just wanted to secure that win.”

Giorgi, who surfed his first heat ever in the Scottish waters today, linked several powerful maneuvers on some of the best waves of the day to end-up with a couple of 7.00 point rides and take a great first impression of Thurso East’s wave potential.

“I can’t believe how good the waves are, I think I could live here,” Giorgi said. “The waves were just so good and once I managed to get into the heat, I had a great time out there. Thurso East makes me think of Nias in Indonesia but with cold water and no tropical trees.”

Other young gun and current best European on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) to shine today was  ASP European WQS Tour leader Joan Duru (Ondres, FRA) who secured his Round 3 qualification with a win in Heat 5. Duru, 20, who is on his first ASP World Tour quest this season, started his Scottish run with solid surfing and will meet Giorgi next.

“We had quite a few waves at the start and it took be a bit of time to get in rhythm,” Duru said. “I am used to surfing with big wetsuits and booties and I really love competing here. I placed equal 9th last year so I hope I can better that this week. Things are going well for me so far but I am looking forward to a big result here.”

The changing winds and decreasing swell made conditions inconsistent and proceedings had to be stopped after Heat 9 was completed, officials setting a 6 AM call Sunday to move on with the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime competition. Fourteen battles are still to be held before the number of contenders decreases dramatically to fourty-eight and tomorrow might be decisive for the ratings’ points campaign all ASP competitors are focused on.

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Heat 1: Drew Courtney (AUS) 14.50 pts, Eneko Acero (EUK) 10.50 pts, Jayce Robinson (GBR) 10.20 pts, Dale Lovelock (AUS) 10.10 pts
Heat 2: Jarrad Howse (AUS) 12.60 pts, Alex Gray (USA) 12.14 pts, Joao Guedes (PRT) 6.33 pts, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 3.50 pts
Heat 3: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 10.60 pts, Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 7.57 pts, John John Florence (HAW) 6.60 pts, Patrick Beven (FRA) 0.60 pts
Heat 4: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 13.83 pts, Jorge Spanner (BRA) 11.56 pts, Nick White (NZL) 10.47 pts, Jay Davies (AUS) 8.37 pts
Heat 5: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.23 pts, Simon Marchand (FRA) 10.17 pts, Omer Bar (ISR) 7.43 pts, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 5.83 pts
Heat 6: Marco Giorgi (URY) 14.64 pts, Heath Joske (AUS) 12.04 pts, Jack Perry (AUS) 8.54 pts, Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 7.70 pts
Heat 7: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 10.06 pts, Angelo Lozano (MEX) 6.10 pts, Luke Campbell (AUS) 5.50 pts, Michael Bailey (USA) 1.90 pts
Heat 8: Eric Rebiere (FRA) 7.84 pts, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 4.26 pts, Matt Mohagen (USA) 3.30 pts, Oli Adams (GBR) 1.54 pts
Heat 9: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8.17 pts, Clancy Dawson (AUS) 6.06 pts, Gordon Fontaine (FRA) 5.63 pts, Jatyr Berasaluce (EUK) 2.80 pts

Heat 10: Yuri Sodre (BRA), Blake Wilson (AUS), Love Hodel (HAW), Matt Capel (GBR)
Heat 11: Hugo Savalli (REU), Rhys Bombaci (AUS), Madison Williams (AUS), Luke Munro (AUS)
Heat 12: Dion Atkinson (AUS), Justin Mujica (PRT), Txaber Trojaola (EUK), Freddie Meadows (SWE)
Heat 13: Adam Melling (AUS), Ruben Gonzales (PRT), Dylan Melamed (HAW), Brandon Roberts (ZAF)
Heat 14: Shaun Gossmann (AUS), Renato Galvao (BRA), Lincoln Taylor (AUS), Alek Parker (USA)
Heat 15: Hodei Collazo (EUK), Jean Sebastien Estienne (BLM), Russell Winter (GBR), Damien Chaudoy (REU)
Heat 16: Glenn Hall (IRE), Christophe Allary (REU), Izuki Tanaka (JPN), Marc Lacomare (FRA)
Heat 17: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Rowan Aish (NZL), Joaquim Guichard (DNK), Jason Harris (USA)
Heat 18: Brian Toth (PRI), Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF), Bobby Hansen (NZL), Josie Graves (PRI)
Heat 19: Romain Cloitre (REU), Royden Bryson (ZAF), Reubyn Ash (GBR), Shaun Holmes (ZAF)
Heat 20: Masatoshi Ohno (JPN), Jose Maria Cabrera (CNY), Romain Laulhe (FRA), Daniel Redman (ZAF)
Heat 21: Leonardo Neves (BRA), Jarrad Sullivan (AUS), Blake Howard (USA), Joe Tanaka (JPN)
Heat 22: Blake Thornton (AUS), Mark Mathews (AUS), Joao Gutemberg (BRA), Alan Stokes (GBR)
Heat 23: Andre Silva (BRA), Adam Robertson (AUS), Mark Harris (GBR), Sam Lamiroy (GBR)
Heat 24: Owen Wright (AUS), Diego Rosa (BRA), Miguel Ximenes (PRT), Manuel Selman (CHL)