Wardo Wins The O’Neill Deep Blue Open

O’Neill Deep Blue open 2001

Day 6

Himmafushi Island, Maldives Thursday 14th June 2001

CHRIS WARD’S FINAL CHARGE WINS O1NEILL DEEP BLUE OPEN- Final Aerial Attack Steals Dornelles Glory –

Chris Ward from the USA came storming through in the last 10 seconds of the final of the O1Neill Deep Blue Open 2001 to walk away with the first place in the first ever professional surfing contest to be held in the Maldives.Ward who had trailed Brazilian Rodrigo Dornelles through out the thirty five minute heat this afternoon, busted a 360 in the dying seconds to relegate Dornelles to second spot in a nail biting, to the wire final at Jailbreaks.Australia1s Lee Winkler took the third place and Dean Morrison fourth. The final took place under a clear Maldivian sky and with a building swell. Aperfect end to a week of hard, top level surfing in this tropical paradise deep in the Indian Ocean.

“It was a really tough, it came down to the last wave and the last 10 seconds , I knew I just had to bust out.” Said a dazed Chris Ward ” When itcame down to the last 3 minutes I needed 6.5 and I sat out back and wondered what I could do. So I just put in a few turns, a few big carves and busted an air and made it and they gave me a 6.6. At the time I wasn1t sure but I got it and I can’t believe it it1s my first win. It1s been such a goodcontest I’m so stoked, I’m lost for words.”

It seemed clear to all the spectators that had gathered on the boats in the channel next to the massive right hander that the 2001 O’Neill Deep Blue Open title would be going to Dornelles who seemed to be untouchable from thestart, however it was not to be. Dornelles was just one of the strong Brazilian contingent that had made the trip to the Maldives the Brazilianwent hard throughout the contest.

“I almost lost my first heat in the competition but stole a place in the next in the closing seconds.” Said a slightly miffed Dornelles back on theboat. “Now Wardo has done the same to me. I guess what goes around comes around. Second is ok, I would have been happier with first but its one ofthose things. I1ve really enjoyed surfing in the Maldives, I will have great memories of this competition.”

Australia1s Lee Winkler celebrated his birthday in fine form buy pulling in a third place after a long hard days surfing.

“I’m pretty tired but stoked. It1s been a tough day, so much surfing but there’s nowhere I1d rather be right now, this is the best way to celebrate my birthday it doesn1t get much better than this. In the final I had apretty good roll going. I was in contention but I slipped to fourth and I hadn’t had a third wave so I just went for it, I’m stoked, Chris(Ward) deserved the win, he left it real late but he went for it and pulled it off in the last seconds of the heatSThe waves out there have been ablessing for us, waves like that in a perfect place like this is unreal, I rate the contest 10 out of 10, It’s a great contest and not one anyone willforget in a hurry!”

The final was a fitting conclusion to a day of intense surfing and drama that had gone before. Cory Lopez currently ranked number one in the worldcrashed out in the 1st quarter final after a lull in the swell and strong cross shore winds created difficult conditions and made wave selectiontricky. A last ditch aerial attack reaped no rewards and marked the end of the road for Lopez1s Deep Blue contest.

South African David Weare looked unstoppable as his wave attack rocketed him to the Semi’s.

It’s getting hard out there, everyone1s just getting so many good scores. The pressure’s really on. It’s been a long day, so many heats, my legs are feeling it right now but I’m confident for the semi’s, stoked with the way my board is going just pretty tired beating Cory was good. It’s always good to take down the big names it boosts your confidence a lot, it feels good.

Australia’s Mick Fanning, putting his good form down to reduced alcohol consumption, was surfing at warp speed again with early performances thatlooked like he could take it all the way to the final. After destroying the opposition in his quarter final, an ever modest Fanning said:

It1s really good out there, I got some really good scores early on. I really like good point breaks with walls and barrels so this wave reallysuits me as it1s all of that, just missing the barrels today! Everyone left in the competition is really good, everyone1s just going mad, thecompetition is hotting up it’s really hard out there at this stage of thecontest it really comes down to luck and whoever gets the waves, everyone’son the same level so it’s really close.

Fanning’s winning streak came to an end as cross shore winds briefly blastedthe line up during his second semi final leaving the young Australianscrapping around for high scoring waves that never materialized.

The waves did materialise for Chris Ward who accepted his first WQS victoryon the deck of the contest boat as the sun set across the Northern Atolls.Steve Robson from ASP Australia thanked the Maldive Surf Association foralltheir help and vowed to make the O’Neill Deep Blue Open 2001 the first of many future professional surfing contests in the Maldives.