Wednesday, May 26, 2004 (Tavarua and Namotu Islands, Fiji) Tahitian wildcard Alain Riou today posted a perfect 10 in the Quiksilver Pro. Round one of the Foster’s men’s World Championship Tour (WCT) commenced this morning, with all 16 heats completed. Winners progressed directly into round three, while second and third place getters were delegated to the ‘losers’ second round.
Great 5ft (1.5m) surf was on offer at ‘Cloudbreak’ early. Unfortunately sets became inconsistent and slight winds increased.
Riou, who placed third in the Quiksilver Trials yesterday, proved undaunted by the prospect of facing 1999 & 2000 world champions Mark Occhilupo (AUS) and Sunny Garcia (HAW) this morning. The goofy footer locked in the first perfect 10-point ride of the Quiksilver Pro for an amazing barrel ride, and then created a major upset by securing the win and his third round berth.
“Occy and Sunny are two of my heroes and I grew up looking up to them, began Riou. “Beating them out here in Fiji, in perfect waves, is just a dream come true and I’m so stoked. I didn’t think I was coming out of that barrel, but at the end it let me go and was the best feeling.
“For sure it helped, as Teahupoo is a bit heavy than here, so I felt relaxed and just went for it, he added, of his usual training ground in Tahiti. “I’m psyched.
Reigning two-time world champion and defending Quiksilver Pro winner Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) began his campaign strongly. The Kauaian opened with a near-perfect 9.5 score against Lee Winkler (Coff’s Harbour, AUS) and local Fijian wildcard Isei Tokovou. Having already secured three good results this season, but all just shy of wins, the 25-year-old is focused to collect this event title.
“It lined up really well, so I was happy to get that so soon into the heat, said Irons of the initial wave. “Tavarua’s one of my favorite places, so I love coming back. I definitely want to do well here. I’ve got a second and two thirds so far this year, so hopefully this time is another final and I get a win. I’ve got good boards at the moment and am having fun, so I think that’s the best formula.
Brazilian Victor Ribas created a surprise win over multiple world champions Kelly Slater (FL, USA) and Quiksilver wildcard Tom Carroll (Newport, AUS). The inconsistent heat went down to the wire, with the lead alternating between Ribas and Slater, but despite a last minute barrel ride the Floridian ultimately required another score worth 6.14 points.
“I think I’m going to keep my hair like this and not shave, joked Ribas after the win, not wanting to affect his good fortune. “Kelly’s one of my favorite surfers in the world, and also Tom Carroll. I’ve been watching these guys since I was young and think they are heroes. I’ve learned a lot from them, so I’m stoked to win the heat. It’s like a big prize for me. I think it’s going to be a good year for me.
Quiksilver Trials runner-up Fred Patacchia (HAW) was another round one standout. The Hawaiian led from the outset against former world #2 Taj Burrow (West AUS) and Mick Campbell (Port Macquarie, AUS). Burrow fought back towards the end with a great ride to bridge the gap, while Campbell snapped his surfboard early on and had to ride a replacement.
“I just lucked into the good ones and got into a rhythm, reasoned Patacchia. “I was just happy to make it out of the Trials again, as I’ve lost first heat the past few years. I broke the mould, so now I’m pretty stoked. I get a day off and go fishing (laughs).
Australian Danny Wills (Byron Bay) set the early pace this morning. The current ratings #10 scored a 9.13 for his double barrel disappearing act, and backed this with another 8.5 to comfortably advance into round three. South African Greg Emslie finished runner-up, while opponent Neco Padaratz (BRA) failed to show for the match — he and fellow Brazilian Raoni Monteiro are reported to be arriving in Fiji tonight.
“The waves were perfect, and we had a lot in that heat, said Wills. “”It’s pretty hard to read on your backhand, but it’s definitely a world class wave and really fun. We both had really good scores, and I’m stoked to get the win.
Brazilian Peterson Rosa posted his first opening round win for the season. Against Quiksilver Trials winner Dane Reynolds and fellow Californian Taylor Knox, the world #26 was patient the first half of the heat, before locking in a couple of strong backhand rides to gain control. Both opponents remained in contention as time elapsed, but ultimately it was the ‘Animal’ who progressed directly into round three.
“It’s great to be here again at ‘Cloudbreak’, said Rosa. “I waited a long time during the heat, but then got a couple and was stoked to comeback (laughs). ‘Pottz’ (1989 world champion Martin Potter — one of the event commentators) was giving me good support out in the channel, saying, ‘Go, go, go!’ It’s my first this year in round one, so I’m stoked.
Australia’s Joel Parkinson withdrew from the Quiksilver Pro late last night, due to the impending birth of his first child. Fellow Gold Coaster Luke Munro replaced him, finishing runner-up to Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay, AUS) in their heat with 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood (FL, USA) this morning.
Australian Trent Munro (Scott’s Head) dominated the final heat of the day with the highest combined total of 18.57 points. His best ride earned a massive 9.9 score.
Updates will be posted daily and swell forecasts are available at http://www.swellnet.com.au/events/quiksilverfijiforecast.htm
Quiksilver Pro Round One (1st>Rnd3; 2nd & 3rd>Rnd2)
H1: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 14.34; Luke Egan (AUS) 13.67; Eric Rebiere (FRA) 9.14
H2: Daniel Wills (AUS) 17.63; Greg Emslie (ZAF) 5.17; Neco Padaratz (BRA) n/s
H3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.76; Luke Hitchings (AUS) 13.67; Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.54
H4: Alain Riou (PYF) 14.33; Sunny Garcia (HAW) 14.1; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 8.24
H5: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.67; Luke Munro (AUS) 4.0; CJ Hobgood (USA) 2.3
H6: Richard Lovett (AUS) 15.6; Michael Lowe (AUS) 11.24; Shane Powell (AUS) 10.23
H7: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 14.5; Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.5; Taylor Knox (USA) 12.24
H8: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.9; Lee Winkler (AUS) 9.2; Isei Tokovou (FIJI) 6.43
H9: Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.46; Kelly Slater (USA) 12.33; Tom Carroll (AUS) 6.83
H10: Fred Patacchia (HAW) 15.33; Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.5; Michael Campbell (AUS) 13.0
H11: Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.44; Kalani Robb (HAW) 11.9; Jake Paterson (AUS) 10.46
H12: Cory Lopez (USA) 17.6; Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 14.57; Toby Martin (AUS) 11.5
H13: Tim Curran (USA) 10.93; Troy Brooks (AUS) 8.6; Dean Morrison (AUS) 7.93
H14: Beau Emerton (AUS) 14.56; Paulo Moura (BRA) 13.03; Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 12.1
H15: Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 15.7; Nathan Webster (AUS) 12.83; Pat O’Connell (USA) 11.83
H16: Trent Munro (AUS) 18.57; Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.67; Raoni Monteiro (BRA) n/s