16 LEFT FOR SHOT AT MALDIVES TITLE
O’Neill Deep Blue Open 2002
Republic of the Maldives June 10th – 17th 2002
Association of Surfing Professionals, 80,000 (USD) 5 star World QualifyingSeries (WQS)
Lohifushi Island, Maldives (Friday June 14) The O’Neill Deep Blue Openscored again today and was graced with classic competition conditionsthroughout the day. The 5 star WQS contest was under full steam as itcharged through to complete rounds 3 and 4. Under a perfect sky the 64competitors who started the day with dreams of WQS glory, were whittled downto the final 16 in a day of the high scores and high performance surfing.The Australians dominated throughout the day claiming 11 of the 16 places upfor grabs in tomorrows quarter finals. 2 Americans and three Brazilians willjoin them to do battle for the O’Neill Deep Blue Open crown.
Two-meter waves were still firmly in residence at Lohi´s break and withhardly a breath of wind, glassy conditions prevailed for much of the thirdround. As the third round heats progressed more and more surfers becamecasualties of the intense exchanges at Lohi´s. Defending champion Chris Ward(USA) joined Andy Irons (Haw) for a strategy rethink after an early exitfrom heat 10 this morning. As midday passed the swell built and therelentless sun beat down on the contest site. The stakes were increased asround four entered the water and the level of surfing rose to another plain.
Heat one of round four saw Jarrad Howse (Aus) hit the water along sideNathan Webster (Aus) Tim Curran (USA) and Anthony MacDonald (Aus). With amultitude of high scoring set waves to pick off, the heat scores rocketed.Webster took charge with his second wave of the heat scoring a massive 9.33shortly after Curren found his rhythm and replied with a 9.55. After a tothe wire finale, Webster took the heat with a 9.33 and 6.57 combination.
“It’s a really fun wave out there, its nerve racking too because everybody’sin the game throughout the whole heat you can’t count anybody out . Istarted with a really nice wave then I pretty much struggled to get mysecond one but managed to get something in” Said Nathan Webster.
“The WQS is so tight, especially when the waves are this good, everyone’scapable of getting a big score” he added.
Heat 2 took over where heat one left off with big sets and big scores. LukeHitchings (AUS) left it until the late in the heat to really stamp his mark.8.93 and a 7.33 enabled him to take his campaign to the quarters along withsecond place surfer Troy Brooks (Aus) “I had a really slow start so I was getting a bit nervous-all the guys hadgood scores already so I had to pull something out of the bag. I took onegood one at the end and that put me up there. I’m feeling good about thequarters, haven’t done well in one of these events for a while so it feelsgood to be winning heats again and hopefully it’ll keep going” said Luke.
Heat three saw Europe’s final hope of a quarters place disappear with MikyPicon (Fra). In a heat that saw the lead change hands as frequently as theset waves rolled in, it was the Brazilians Marcelo Trekinho and Yuri Sodrethat relegated Picon and Samba Mann (Aus) to spectators.
Glyndyn Ringrose (Aus) for the second time today provided a scorchingperformance to continue his O’Neill Deep Blue Open mission. In a heat ofhigh drama Glyndyn traded hits with current world number 2 Cory Lopezthroughout. One high scorer was volleyed back by another until Ringrosenudged ahead and took the heat with a 8.5 and a 6.33. Lopez and Ringrosemeet again tomorrow in quarter final 2.
“Yeah that was a good heat” Said Glyndyn “a lot of hassling going on outthere, I was just stoked at the start that I managed to sit that little bitwider and get a couple under my belt. I had a few solid waves and one moregood one and that was pretty much it, stoked.”
After seeing team mate Cory Lopez guarantee his spot in the Quarters, TrentMunroe (Aus)) was determined to not miss out on his place. Cranking off thebottom and slashing the lip with huge snaps as he screamed down the line toearn a massive 9.63 for his opening wave. Trent added a healthy 7 to histally and was well on his way. Joining him in quarter final 3 is fellowcountryman and last years 3rd placed surfer Lee Winkler.
“Really happy with that first wave, didn’t think that it´d be quite thatmuch but Judges liked it so I’ll take it for sure-it was a pretty slow heatbut a waited for about 10 minutes without a wave, then I just got lucky andgot two and that’s all you need. I think the wave is great fun, I have neverbeen to a more rippable event.” Said Trent
Phil MacDonald (Aus) kept the Brazilians at bay to win his heat and takeArmando Daltro (Brz) in 2nd spot with him to the quarters. Shane Beschen(USA) bombed out of the contest in heat 7, despite tallying up a supersmooth 8.5 on his first wave the high 4 point score he needed to continue isplight eluded him throughout the heat. Darren O´Rafferty (Aus) took the topspot in the heat with a 7.95 and a 7.67 while Beau Emerton (Aus) took secondwith a 7.0 and a 5.63.
“There was a bit of a lull in that heat compared with the heat before so itwas lucky I was able to get 2 good ones. I was a bit nervous on the firstwave of the heat, I had the shakes but found my feet and got a good score.The heat worked out for me and Beau so I’m stoked” said O`Rafferty
“Its been a great contest so far, everybody’s stoked with the waves andeverybody’s just hoping for that number one spot tomorrow-The transitionfrom WCT (World Championship Tour) to WQS is hard, on the WCT we are used toplaying the waiting game with man on man you get to pick and choose yourwaves, with the WQS sometimes you don’t have the choice. There’s four guysall hassling for the wave, its hard” said Beau Emerton.”But the event hereis awesome, one of the most beautiful places in the world, we really havescored some great waves this year so everybody?s happy.”
Australians, Toby Martin and Andrew King took out the last heat of the dayclaiming the last two spots in the quarters that are scheduled to take placetomorrow morning.
The Maldives is ready to usher in a new O?Neill Deep Blue Champion. With thecompetition so tight with so many finely tuned surfers amped to take thenumber one spot the quarter finals through to the final promise to showcasesome of the most dynamic surfing ever witnessed in a World Qualifying Seriesevent.