HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Monday, March 1, 2010) – The season opener to the 2010 ASP World Tour watched nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 38, stamp his authority on competition while California free-surfing mastermind Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 24, detonated the competition to escape through Round 2, leading the American contingent through the early days of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover.
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast represents the first of 10 stops on the 2010 ASP World Tour calendar which currently hosts the world’s top 45 surfers who are hungry to establish themselves as early season frontrunners for this year’s ASP World Title.
Slater, who was guarded in announcing his intentions to make a charge for his untouched 10th ASP World Title run, seemed to be hungry to start his year off on the right track at the season opener, absolutely tearing through Round 1 by posting the Round’s highest single-wave score as well as the highest heat total of a near perfect 17.77 out of a possible 20.
“I missed a really good wave at the beginning of the heat and it kind of focused me,” Slater said. “I was looking at the thing just barreling off at me and it was really frustrating so I thought I needed to be more patient. I got that 8.50, it looked like it might fatten out and it had that slow steep at the beginning so I got that carve in. I was waiting for it to build back up and then it lined up and was a good wave. Obviously that 9.00 too, probably the best wave that came in during the heat, the thing barreled really hard and was fun.”
Reynolds, who had a rocky start to his Quiksilver Pro campaign with a tough Round 1 loss, looked refocused in Round 2, driving through barrels and unleashing his signature fins-free turns to dispatch ASP Dream Tour Rookie Blake Thornton (AUS), 25, while advancing through to Round 3.
“I was actually really nervous before surfing today because I’ve been riding a ton of boards and surfing really terrible,” Reynolds said. “I’ve just been really confused with the surf here because I’m coming from surfing California the last two months where it’s high interval swells and there’s a lot of energy to it. The energy is hitting mushy pointbreaks and then you come here and it’s 8-second intervals so there’s nothing behind and it’s in a shallow sandbar so they’re round and soft at the same time so you really need a different sort of boards to work here.”
Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach, CA), 25, led the California contingent of ASP World Tour rookies as the only American rookie to clinch a Round 1 heat win. The Huntington Beach native relegated Reynolds and Hawaiian Roy Powers (Hanalei, HI), 29, to Round 2 by capitalizing on a few lengthy righthand walls at the famed pointbreak of Snapper Rocks despite the early morning’s tricky high-tide conditions.
“I’m definitely going to step my game up this year, taking more risk but you know that’s what this tour is about, that’s what he (Dane Reynolds) does on every wave and if you can’t match it then there’s only a certain amount of heats you’ll get through,” Simpson said. “Yeah, so I just want to lift my level and stay busy.”
Fellow Americans Taylor Knox (Carlsbad, CA), 38, Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 30, twin brother and former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 30, and Santa Barbara goofy-footer Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara, CA), 27, have all advanced through to Round 3, while fellow Americans Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 24, and Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA), 28, have yet to surf their Round 2 heats.
Tanner Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 21, was eliminated from Quiksilver Pro competition despite a valiant effort against Hawaiian Fred Patacchia (North Shore, HI), 28, in their Round 2 bout.
The Quiksilver Pro presented by Land Rover hosts a waiting period of February 27 through March 10 and is webcast LIVE via www.quiksilverpro.com.au