HOSSEGOR, France (Saturday, September 23, 2006) – Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour ratings front runners Kelly Slater (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) both notched up solid wins in round one of the Quiksilver Pro presented by Evian.
And while both have now earned themselves an automatic spot in the round three draw, fellow title contender Taj Burrow (AUS) finished second in his heat and will now have to surf in round two.
The event, the eight of 11 on this year’s tour was held in incredible two metre (six feet) plus beachbreak-type waves at Hossegor located in the south of France and spectacular barrel riding was the norm.
Slater and Irons were two of the standouts of the day as both found plenty of time riding inside the bellies of some sand-crunching beasts.
Slater, who is eyeing off an unprecedented eighth world crown, looked relaxed and demonstrated that he certainly has the wares to go all the way.
He was extremely amped up by the prospect of surfing in such fun waves today.
“I was excited to see the high tide move in and that shorebreak start happening,” said Slater. “There is the potential for some incredible waves, it’s really similar to like Hawaiian sandbar and there are some really good ones.”
And while the waves were enjoyable they were challenging with getting the better of Slater forcing him to fall and whack his head on the sand bottom.
“I got smacked down on a few,” said Slater. “I ate it on about five or six. I hit my head pretty hard coming in on my last wave and it gave me a headache. But it was fun…”
Slater defeated wildcard Joan Duru (FRA) and tour legend Mark Occhilupo (AUS).
Irons meanwhile tore into his heat to surpass Patrick Bevan (FRA) and Shaun Cansdell (AUS) with relative ease.
The reigning event champion has stated on numerous occasions that the Quiksilver Pro France is one of his favourite tournaments and given that he has won here the past three years he was oozing with confidence today.
“I’ve had a really good run here for the last couple of years,” said Irons. “I’m definitely not counting on anything but I’m going to go out there and surf my best as that’s all I can do… it actually looks a lot like Hawaii, it’s just beautiful.”
Using tactical play the former three-time world champion was eager to get off to a good start in the heat and build momentum.
He was fearful his rival Bevan, a local at the break, might cause an upset so he paddled in behind the Frenchmen and forced him to pull out of a wave.
I wanted to get a wave right away,” said Irons. “He is a real dangerous guy out here as it’s his local break. I went up and paddled around him and he didn’t know what was happening at first, he just kicked out and I pulled in behind him and weaved my way through the whitewater.”
The day for Burrow however was one to forget as the West Australian struggled to find the waves necessary to give him big scores.
He was trumped by the ever-consistent Greg Emslie (ZAF) who put on a solid display after using executing a perfect game plan.
“It’s pretty tough out there and I was just trying to work out different game plans,” said Emslie. “I was just trying to figure out what to do. Half way through the heat none of us where getting too many scores. And I told myself just to relax and just try and pick off some medium ones and I was pretty lucky. I got a 6.5 and a 6.0 so it paid off. I put myself in the ball game and the other guys couldn’t get scores with all the closeouts. So I’m really happy.”
Emslie was pleased he didn’t suffer the same fate as Slater and cop a beating at the hands of the powerful waves.
“It’s breaking really really hard,” said Emslie. “But I was lucky I didn’t have any beatings. I just picked my waves really well. You can see the closeouts when they come and you just have to wait till that wedgy peak comes and that’s the one you’ve got to go on. There’s not much you can do on a closeout, so you just have to sit and wait for a good one to come to you.”
Leading the charge for the Brazilians today was tube maestro Raoni Monteiro.
The feisty natural footer charged into some waves of consequence and came out of the heat with one of the highest totals of the day a 16.83 out of 20.
From his first wave where locked in a 7.50 to his last where he scored a 9.33 he was never in doubt for the win.
“There are a couple of bombs out there,” said Monteiro. “I got the first good one which was a 7.5 and then I tried to catch something else to back it up, but it was hard to find a good wave that was open. I got a couple of low scores and then my last wave was a 9.33. I’m just so stoked. It was hard out there, but I got two good waves and made the heat so I’m stoked.”
Also turning heads today was Joel Parkinson (AUS) who in the early part of the day grabbed some well-overhead waves to defeat Cory Lopez (USA) and Pedro Henrique (BRA).
The ever-relaxed Parkinson played a super-cool game and easily claimed the win in what he called were challenging conditions.
“It goes heat by heat,” said Parkinson. “This heat running now is totally different to my heat half an hour ago and the guys who paddle out next are really going to struggle on the high tide. It’s a tricky contest and you just have to pick the eyes out of the best of the waves.”
Organisers will meet at 9am tomorrow to assess conditions and will then make a call regarding continuing the event.
The forecast for the next few days indicate that the weather could turn nasty but swell permitting either round two or an expression session are likely to hit the water.
Going to press Bruce Irons (HAW) put on a phenomenal display scoring a near perfect total of 19.57 out of 20.
Pulling into two incredibly long stand-up barrels the Hawaiian had the crowd baying for more.
Results round one (1st progresses to round 3, 2nd and 3rd to round 2)
HEAT 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.86; 2. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.70; Jarrad Howse (AUS) 7.00
HEAT 2: 1. Tim Reyes (USA) 17.66; 2. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 11.40; 3. Roy Powers (HAW) 9.23
HEAT 3: 1. David Weare (ZAF) 15.67; Taylor Knox (USA) 11.67; 3. Luke Stedman (AUS) 6.00
HEAT 4: 1. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 14.17; 2. Toby Martin (AUS) 13.84; 3. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3.83
HEAT 5: 1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.07; 2. Cory Lopez (USA) 12.84; 3. Pedro Henrique (BRA) 7.06
HEAT 6: 1. Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.60; 2. Yuri Sodre (BRA) 13.74; Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.17
HEAT 7: 1. Trent Munro (AUS) 13.50; 2. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.17; Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.16
HEAT 8: 1. Kelly Slater (USA) 15.67; Joan Duru (FRA) 10.13; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 9.94
HEAT 9: 1. Andy Irons (HAW) 16.24; 2. Patrick Bevan (FRA) 9.32; 3. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 8.07
HEAT 10: 1. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.40; 2. Jeremy Flores (REU) 10.90; Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.67
HEAT 11: 1. Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.66; 2. Mikael Picon (FRA) 14.66; Chris Ward (USA) 8.50
HEAT 12: 1. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 16.83; 2. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 5.33; Victor Ribas (BRA) 4.50
HEAT 13: 1. Phil Macdonald (AUS) 13.00; 2. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 9.73; Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 8.33
HEAT 14: 1. Danny Wills (AUS) 10.50; Jake Paterson (AUS) 6.67; Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 1.80
HEAT 15: 1. Bruce Irons (HAW) 19.57; 2. Mick Lowe (AUS) 6.07; 3. Paulo Moura (BRA) 4.80
HEAT 16: 1. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 16.67; 2. CJ Hobgood (USA) 9.50; Tiago Pires (PRT) 6.40
HEAT 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs Joan Duru (FRA)
HEAT 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs Patrick Bevan (FRA)
HEAT 3: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs Jeremy Flores (REU)
HEAT 4: Taylor Knox (USA) vs Tiago Pires (PRT)
HEAT 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs Yuri Sodre (BRA)
HEAT 7: CJ Hobgood (USA) vs Pedro Henrique (BRA)
HEAT 8: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) vs Toby Martin (AUS)
HEAT 9: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) vs Roy Powers (HAW)
HEAT 10: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs Jarrad Howse (AUS)
HEAT 11: Cory Lopez (USA) vs Mikael Picon (FRA)
HEAT 12: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs Marcelo Nunes (BRA)
HEAT 13: Nathan Hedge (AUS) vs Jake Paterson (AUS)
HEAT 14: Chris Ward (USA) vs Mick Lowe (AUS)
HEAT 15: Victor Ribas (BRA) vs Paulo Moura (BRA)
HEAT 16: Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) vs Pancho Sullivan (HAW)