BANZAI PIPELINE, Hawaii (Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007) – Foster's ASP 'Rookie of the Year' contender Kai Otton (AUS) surfed a near perfect heat to post 19.33 out of 20.00 possible points in Round 2 of the Billabong Pipeline Masters today. Otton's performance in the four to six foot (one to two metre) waves garnered him the highest combined heat and single wave scores of the event thus far.

"That was a little taste, not classic Pipe, but there are definitely a couple of really nice ones out there," Otton said. "Some of them are really getting a ledge and turning out pretty nice. It's just so awesome to only be out there with four other guys. I've been coming here for the past six or seven years and there are at least 50 guys in the lineup if it starts getting any good and you can only count on about one wave every two hours. I'm just so grateful to be out here."

The ASP's new 'Dual Heat' format was used for the first time today with the overall concensus from the surfers proving very positive. Under this format, four surfers are in the water at the same time competing in two individual heats of two surfers each. Once the first heat has hit the water, each subsequent heat begins halfway through the heat before it. Priority allocation (the right of way given to a surfer on a wave) comes into play the second half of each heat.

Otton caught his 9.93 (out of 10) scoring wave just as priority was about to shift from the heat prior to his.

"That wave was right at the end of the other heats priority, right when it was about to change," Otton said. "Luckily nobody was out the back to take it off me. The wave kind of peaked out the back, I wasn't in great position because nothing was really breaking out there but I sat in on the ledge and ended upside down, I thought I'd blown it. I was on a short 6'3" board which was probably a bit short but somehow it just stuck to my feet, pulled down the line and came out."

Otton is currently rated World No. 9 and is up against World No. 8 Jeremy Flores (FRA) in the race for 'ASP Rookie of the Year' honors. The surfer who finishes higher in the ratings after this event will walk away with the honor. Flores led for much of the latter part of the year, but Otton's Final berth at the last tour stop in Brazil has put him well within reach.

"That heat was important, I have a bit of a job to do," Otton said. "Making heats you know, is what's important. I'm just taking it heat by heat and see what happens."

Otton, along with Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA), Michael Campbell (AUS) and Chris Ward (USA), was one of only four full-time Foster's ASP World Tour surfers to advance from Round 2 today. In contrast, 12 of 16 Hawaii Pro Surfers Union (HPSU) selected 'Pipeline Specialists' are through to Round 3 with their wins today.

Ward posted 18.07 out of 20.00 for the second highest wave total of the day and is subsequently bettering his chances of requalifying for the 2008 ASP World Tour. Ward is currently rated 27th and only 27 of the Top 45 requalify at the end of the year. Ward said he concentrated solely on his heat against former World Tour surfer Shane Dorian (HAW) and not on requalification.

"When you go out in heat, you don't think about things like re-qualifying," Ward said. "Last year it was the same thing, thinking about this and that, you can sit on the beach all think about and wonder, but it's all about coming down and surfing a heat."
Former Pipeline Masters champion Jamie O'Brien (HAW) used local knowledge to his advantage today and is now into Round 3.

When asked his thoughts on having the opportunity to surf against the world's best surfers, O'Brien's take was: "They get a chance to surf against me and I'm ready. I'm just going to go out there have fun, this is my home break, it feels great competing in my back yard and I'm just looking for a good time."

Mick Lowe (AUS) a 15 year campaigner on the ASP World Tour, surfed his last heat today and will retire now. The 30-year-old lost to wildcard Danny Fuller (HAW).

"I've had lots of memories here, I've left lots of skin on the reef, but you know Danny had an incredible heat and I was just really hoping to get one good one at the end to make finish it off," Lowe said. "The wave didn't come so that didn't happen but that's the ocean that's what we love about it."

Lowe, who has three World Tour event wins to his credit, was chaired up the beach by his tour mates after the heat.

"This is the support I've had, just not today, I've had this support all my life," Lowe said when his feet hit sand again. "Whether or not they've been on the beach, at home watching on the internet, or on TV, I've had that support my whole life. Without that support I wouldn't be where I'm at today. It's not just the fact that they've lifted me up today, it's a 15 year career they've been lifting me along."

Hawaiian wildcard Sunny Garcia, who was eliminated by Gavin Gillette (HAW) in Round 2 today, was today fined US$5000 for unsportsmanlike conduct displayed in Round 1 of the event on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007. The decision was announced this morning post ASP judiciary meetings on the matter. Garcia issued an apology for his behavior to all parties involved.

The next call on competition status will be made tomorrow morning at 7am.

Billabong Pro Round 2 Heat Results:
Heat 1: Mikey Bruneau (HAW) 9.90 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 8.93
Heat 2: Jamie O'Brien (HAW) 16.66 def. Kalani Chapman (HAW) 9.27
Heat 3: Roy Powers (HAW) 12.17 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 11.50
Heat 4: Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.30 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 7.77
Heat 5: Kai Otton (AUS) def. 19.33 Manoa Drollet (TAH) 8.00
Heat 6: Flynn Novak (HAW) 15.60 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.07
Heat 7: Michael Campbell (AUS) 15.00 def. Kainoa McGee (HAW) 6.23
Heat 8: Danny Fuller (HAW) 14.84 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 4.46
Heat 9: David Wassell (HAW) 10.50 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 5.16
Heat 10: Gavin Beschen (USA) 16.67 def. Luke Munro (AUS) 3.00
Heat 11: Ian Walsh (HAW) 8.40 def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 5.93
Heat 12: Mikala Jones (HAW) 16.00 def. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.60
Heat 13: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 10.46 def. Tory Baron (HAW) 4.56
Heat 14: Chris Ward (USA) 18.07 def. Shane Dorian (HAW) 16.00
Heat 15: Myles Padaca (HAW) 8.06 def. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 4.16
Heat 16: Makua Rothman (HAW) 6.33 def. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 3.90

Billabong Pro Round 3 Heat Match-Ups:
BHeat 1 :Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Mikey Bruneau (HAW)
Heat 2: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Victor Ribas (BRA)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 4: Troy Brooks (AUS) vs. Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. David Wassell (HAW)
Heat 6: Bernardo Miranda (BRA) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 7: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Ian Walsh (HAW)
Heat 8: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) vs. T.J. Barron (HAW)
Heat 9: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Myles Padaca (HAW)
Heat 10: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Jamie O'Brien (HAW)
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Makuakai Rothman (HAW)
Heat 12: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Gavin Gillette (HAW)
Heat 13: Michael Campbell (AUS) vs. Mikala Jones (HAW)
Heat 14: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) vs. Flynn Novak (HAW)
Heat 15: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Gavin Beschen (HAW)
Heat 16: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) vs. Danny Fuller (HAW)

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