ANGLET, France (Sat., May 5, 2007) – It's wild and a windy day on this section of the Basque Coast in the southwest of France this morning with strong winds and driving rain making life difficult for competitors and spectators alike.
But the show must go on and with a one-meter swell still showing on the beachbreaks of les Cavaliers the eight heats of Round 4 are set to run today.
The super strong field has been whittled down over the past week to just 16, and all surfers are now contemplating the ultimate prize on offer here at the Oxbow Pro World Longboard Championship; the Association of Professional Surfers (ASP) International 2007 Men's Longboard World Champion's Title.
The first heat in the water sees local hope Antoine Delpero (FRA) taking on the Brazilian Jeremias da Silva.
Delpero is one of three wildcards still in the event, following yesterday's shock elimination of defending champion Josh Constable (AUS) and 2006 runner-up Ned Snow by unheralded Australians surfers Harrison Roach and Jackson Close.
All three wildcards have stated on record that their goal is to win the event, with Roach perhaps putting it most succinctly when he said, "I can go all the way, you know. I'm not here to make friends. I'm going for the number one spot."
The 17-year-old will face inform Brazilian surfer Carlos Bahia in Heat 4 while Close will tackle the two-time world champion Colin McPhillips (USA) in the following heat, perhaps the match up of the round.
McPhillips was perhaps the form surfer in yesterday's rounds of competition and must be considered one of the favorites for the event, even though a knee injury last week almost saw him withdraw from the championship.
"I thought I was in real trouble, and even missed my flight. But I made a last minute decision to come here and it's paid off," said McPhillips. "I'm not going to worry about my knee till after the event, right now it's not even a concern."
Another eagerly anticipated clash sees former world champion Mathew Moir (ZAF) up against Brazilian Danilo Rodrigo in Heat 8. The two surfers are known for their power surfing and that clash should see buckets of spray coming from their nine-foot long surfboards.
Despite the stormy conditions, organizers hope to finish all eight heats of Round 4 today, leaving just the quarterfinals, semifinals and final for tomorrow, a day which is predicted to have better weather, and more importantly, waves. For more information go to www.oxboworld.com
Round 4 Match Ups
Heat 1: Antoine Delpero (FRA) vs Jeremias da Silva (BRA)
Heat 2: Phil Rajzman (BRA) vs Jensen Taylor
Heat 3: Jamie Viudes (BRA) vs Keegan Edwards (HAW)
Heat 4: Carlos Bahia (BRA) vs Harrison Roach
Heat 5: Jackson Close (AUS) vs Colin McPhillips (USA)
Heat 6: Bonga Perkins (HAW) vs Eduardo Bage
Heat 7: Harley Ingleby (AUS) vs Romain Maurin (FRA)
Heat 8: Mathew Moir (ZAF) vs Danilo Rodrigo (BRA)