HOSSEGOR, France (Friday, September 29, 2006) – Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour title contender Taj Burrow (AUS) was soundly eliminated by rookie Pedro Henrique in round three of the Quiksilver Pro France presented by Evian held today at Les Culs Nus in France.
The pint-sized Brazilian Henrique, excelled in the wind-affected one metre (three foot) waves to easily account for the currently ranked world number two Burrow, outpointing him with precise tactics and wave riding ability notching up a total of 15.37 out of 20 to Burrow’s 12.83.
“I was watching the lefts all day and the conditions kept changing,” said Henrique in broken English. “It’s a little better now than in the middle of the day. It was possible to get some of the lefts so it was really good.”
For the former ASP World Junior Champion, Henrique it is the biggest “kill” of his career and one that will give him enormous confidence going into the business end of the event and into the last few remaining events on the tour.
The win also highlighted his panache in the aerial manoeuvre department.
“I’m feeling so happy,” said Henrique. “I just went out there and tried to do airs and to just do my best surfing. The conditions are good for doing airs. I’m so happy. I rode out the big airs and did well in the heat. It’s my best result so far, but I hope to do better than this and I thank God for this result.”
Henrique will now be pitted against 2005 ASP Rookie Of The Year Fred Patacchia (HAW) in round four.
For Burrow the result was a devastating blow with the highly popular surfer’s title hopes now becoming much more distant.
While he is still in the running for the crown he will have to place very highly in the next three events to stay in the running.
The task was made even harder by the fact that both Kelly Slater (USA) and Andy Irons (HAW) showed solid form to oust their rivals to book a place in round four.
While Slater has the ratings lead, a win by Irons will close the gap and place him in a position similar to 2005 where he is well within striking distance on the seven-time world champ.
Irons was devastating in his disposal of another tour rookie, Adrian Buchan (AUS) and showed just why he has won this event three times.
He opened his account with a solid 8.17 and never looked back.
“The conditions are so bad out there I knew if I went out there and got a good score off the bat it would take a lot of the stress and pressure off,” said Irons. “That first wave opened up and I got three turns in and a nice landing so I knew it would be a good score. Then I just had to capitalise on that and I knew I’d be in the clear.”
Speaking on the conditions that were particularly tough, Irons was happy to grab the waves that he did.
“The current is really powerful,” said Irons. “But we’ve surfed contests like this a lot. It’s really tough, the tides really low and there’s a lot of rip and wakes in it. It’s really easy to fall off your board. I just tried to play it safe and get a couple of scores up. It’s a good result for me.”
Slater meanwhile had to fend off a valiant charge from 2007 top tour recruit Jeremy Flores (REU).
The youngster Flores, who hails from Reunion Island but resides in France, had huge crowd support and every time he jumped to his feet they were very vocal.
Flores was in need of a mere 4.50 to overtake Slater with a few minutes to go but was unlucky when the wave just didn’t cooperate. Slater was aware of the situation and was happy to get away with a win.
“Yeah he’s given me a couple of stressful heats so far,” said Slater. “The first contest of the year this year in the three-man heat. Then this one and the one last year at the same spot. He’s good in little waves; you could see that his best wave was the little tiny one at the end. He just rips on those things.”
Slater often faces wildcards due to the nature of the seeding system and was totally wary that there was always the potential for an upset.
“A lot of times you get wildcards who are really good,” said Slater. “Jeremy (Flores) is always a threat, he beat Fanning here last year in big perfect barrels. And then he almost got me in the next heat when it was big and hollow. You have to be on your toes.”
Slater will now go on to face Travis Logie (ZAF) in a rematch of Brazil last year.
In that heat, which was held in similar conditions to those of today, Logie emerged the victor and nearly thwarted Slater’s seventh world crown claims.
Logie certainly won’t be pulling any punches. Before knowing he would match Slater he was hoping that they would meet.
“Hopefully if I’ll come up against Kelly (Slater),” said Logie. “I’d like to have another match up with Kelly – it would be fantastic. The day he won the world title I got him and then he got me back on the Gold Coast at the beginning of this year. So it’s one all and hopefully I can make it two in tomorrow’s sudden death decider.”
Organisers will back at first light tomorrow and the first heat of the day is expected to paddle out at around 7.30am.
And with the forecast looking extremely promising there is every chance that the event will be wrapped up tomorrow.
Stay tuned to www.aspworldtour.com or www.quiksilver.com for all the details.
Round three results: (1st to round four; 2nd receives equal 17th placing)
Heat 1: Roy Powers (Haw) 15.83 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.24
Heat 2: Daniel Wills (Aus) 12.57 def. Victor Ribas (Bra) 11.97
Heat 3: Bruce Irons (Haw) 16.53 def. Adriano de Souza (Bra) 12.67
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (Aus) 13.67 def. David Weare (ZAF) 8.84
Heat 5: Jake Paterson (Aus) 11.60 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 10.83
Heat 6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 13.00 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 10.10
Heat 7: Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.60 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 11.30
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.50 def. Jeremy Flores (REU) 10.83
Heat 9: Andy Irons (Haw) 15.00 def. Adrian Buchan (Aus) 10.10
Heat 10: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.67 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 11.00
Heat 11: Marcelo Nunes (Bra) 12.60 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.36
Heat 12: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 12.50 def. Peterson Rosa (Bra) 10.40
Heat 13: Pedro Henrique (Bra) 15.37 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 12.83
Heat 14: Fred Patacchia (HAW) 13.90 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 11.17
Heat 15: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.33 def. Raoni Monteiro 11.54
Heat 16: Phil Macdonald (AUS) 14.67 def Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 10.10
Round four heat draw: (1st to the quarter finals; 2nd receives equal 9th placing)
Heat 1: Roy Powers (HAW) vs Danny Wills (AUS)
Heat 2: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs Mick Fanning (AUS)
Heat 3: Jake Paterson (AUS) vs Mick Lowe (AUS)
Heat 4: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) vs Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 6: Marcelo Nunes (BRA) vs Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 7: Pedro Henrique (BRA) vs Fred Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs Phil Macdonald (AUS)