BELLS BEACH, Australia (Monday, Apr. 9, 2007) –The Rip Curl Pro presented by Snickers relocated two and a half hours south of Bells Beach to Johanna Beach for Round 2 and the first six heats of Round 3 today.
More than half of the 22 heats run in the clean four foot (1.2 metre) waves were won by less than a point – a testament to the high caliber closely-matched competition on this year's Foster's ASP World Tour roster.
Rookie Ben Dunn (AUS) earned the day's highest wave score (9.50 out of 10.00) and heat total (17.00 out of 20.00) to beat Troy Brooks (AUS) in Round 2. Dunn posted an equal 5th finish in the first event of the year, and like fellow rookies Royden Bryson (ZAF), Ricky Basnett (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA), is still in contention to do damage at the Rip Curl Pro.
"After my 9.50 Troy needed a combination score so I thought I was pretty safe," Dunn said. "Then he got an 8.90 straight away and only needed an 8.00 after that. I was still thinking he could get the score, even in those little waves, because he pulls those 'Supermans' and crazy reverses all the time. I definitely wasn't happy with my score line until the end."
Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo, who won the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in 1998, was very happy with his scoreline and Round 2 victory over rookie Kai Otton (AUS) today. At 41 years of age, Occhilupo is the most seasoned surfer on tour. He put his experience and wave knowledge to good use today.
"Johanna is a right-hander and a bit fat but it's got good shape – I wouldn't say that it's similar to Bells but it has similarities," Occhilupo said. "I went out there trying to surf it like Bells and use my Bells knowledge in these waves and that worked well."
After a disappointing equal 33rd placing on the Gold Coast last month, Occhilupo was thrilled to advance through to Round 3. If he has it his way, we'll be back at Bells Beach when competition next resumes.
"I hang to surf the Bowl but sometimes you can't have it and you have to get through the event," Occhilupo said. "When you've had a long break and done a bit of work you start to doubt yourself when you don't win a heat for a while but I've been competing for so long that I know you just have to ride it through those times and it usually comes back. Hopefully I can turn it around and start winning some more heats."
Also employing local knowledge was wildcard Nic Muscroft (AUS) who earned an upset victory over tour veteran Taylor Knox (AUS). The Torquay surfer is the only local competitor in the event.
"I reckon there's local knowledge involved," Muscroft said. "I surfed this bank just last weekend, so I'm pretty happy I did that. I was stoked when they made the call to move to Johanna because I knew the wave would be a little trickier with little rips running through and that it would help me because Taylor rips and it made it a bit harder for him."
Muscroft won the Victoria The Place To Be Trials to earn his third wildcard into the Rip Curl Pro – this is the first time he has advanced out of Round 2.
"I've had a bad start to the year on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) so beating Taylor gives me a whole lot of confidence," Muscroft said. "I know that I can do it now, which is really good."
Also scoring an upset win in the first heat of Round 3 was South African Ricky Basnett. Basnett beat 2006 Rookie of the Year and last year's world No. 5 Bobby Martinez (USA) by four tenths of a point.
"Bobby's one of my favorite surfers so I just had to put my head down," Basnett said. "Watching the heat before I knew I needed to get the bigger waves and do bigger turns. Fortunately the last wave I got was better than Bobby's and that's what it came down to, a better wave than what Bobby's was, so I'm stoked."
Taj Burrow (AUS) surfed well to take out rookie Dayyan Neve (AUS) in their late afternoon match-up. Neve earned a Round 2 bye with the withdrawal of expectant father Greg Emslie (ZAF) but ran out of luck in Round 3.
Burrow earned two 8.0 plus wave scores and is on track to post another great result at the Rip Curl Pro – wherever it is run.
"I feel comfortable where ever they have the contest," Burrow said. "I would prefer to have it at the Bowl really, just because it is such a good spot with the amphitheatre and the whole vibe with all the spectators, but Johanna is good too because there are so many banks down here and I love this beach."
Contest officials will assess conditions at both Bells Beach and Johanna tomorrow morning before making a call on competition status at 6:30am for a 9am start. It is highly likely that the rest of Round 3 and Round 4 will run tomorrow.
Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Round 3 Results – 1st advances to Round 4, 2nd finishes equal 17th
Heat 1: Royden Bryson (ZAF) 15.50 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.10
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.50 def. Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 11.17
Heat 3: Daniel Wills (AUS) 14.67def. Chris Ward (USA) 10.50
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.60 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 11.34
Heat 5: Tom Whitaker (AUS) def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 12.50
Heat 6: Leonardo Neves (BRA) 13.10 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.90
Remaining Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Round 3 Match-ups
Heat 7: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs. Raioni Monteiro
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA)
Heat 10: Ben Dunn (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 12: Phillip Macdonald (AUS) vs. Frederick Pattachia (HAW)
Heat 13: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Bernardo Pigmeau (BRA)
Heat 14: Michael Campbell (AUS) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 15: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 16: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs. Ricky Basnett (ZAF)
Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Round 2 Results – 1st advances to Round 3, 2nd finishes equal 33rd
HEAT 1: Bobby Martinez (USA) 11.66 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.17
HEAT 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.76 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.10
HEAT 3: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.34 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 10.47
HEAT 4: Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.17 def. Luke Munro (AUS) 11.23
HEAT 5: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 12.67 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 12.30
HEAT 6: Phillip MacDonald 11.70 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 10.80
HEAT 7: Bernardo Pigmeau (BRA) 15.50 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.33
HEAT 8: Mick Campbell (AUS) 14.56 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 14.53
HEAT 10: Royden Bryson (ZAF) 14.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.87
HEAT 11: Ben Dunn (AUS) 17.00 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 13.00
HEAT 12: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 13.17 def. Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.33
HEAT 13: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 16.33 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 12.43
HEAT 14: Michael Lowe 14.43 (AUS) def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 13.16
HEAT 15: Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 11.83 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 5.34
HEAT 16: Frederick Pattachia (HAW) 16.60 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 14.33