ARICA, Chile (Wednesday, June 20, 2007) – Foster’s ASP World Tour No. 1 Mick Fanning (AUS) and in-form rookie Jeremy Flores (FRA) wasted no time finding their feet in Round 1 of the Rip Curl Pro Chile. Heats 1 through 12 were run in four to six foot (two to three metre) waves at the meaty point-break wave of Ex-Isla Alacran today. Fanning and Flores set the pace and are both through to Round 3.
Fanning, who is better known for his fast, explosive surfing than his barrel riding, snuck into a tube with 13 seconds on the clock to earn the 8.80 that won him the heat. Prior to that wave, Fanning trailed Dean Morrison (AUS) by 6.50 points.
“I knew I could get the 6.00 or the 7.00 if I could just get the wave,” Fanning said. “I was looking at those rights all day long and I was lucky that I snuck into one at the end. I didn’t think that wave was going to be all that great, but it sectioned off a bit longer than I thought and I got lucky. I haven’t beaten Dean in so long so I’m stoked to get him back.”
Fanning’s two wave total of 17.57 out of 20.00 was the highest of the day. Pair his Round 1 performance at Ex-Isla Alacran with his final berth in Tahiti and it’s hard to believe that barrel riding has not always been his forte.
“I’ve worked really hard on it,” Fanning said. “I knew that if I was going to have any chance of winning the world title, I’d have to go and practice riding barreling lefts and that’s what I did. I went to Teahupoo early and surfed it everyday and I feel comfortable out there. I came here early too.”
Fanning has made the final in two of three events this year and has won the first contest of the year. His worst finish of 2007 is a 3rd place result in Bells Beach, Australia. Despite the hype that Fanning looks like he could bring the world title back to Australia for the first time since Mark Occhilupo (AUS) won it in 1999, the Gold Coast surfer swares he’s taking it all in stride.
“There’s no pressure because it’s a long year and there has only been three events,” Fanning said. “You can’t rest on your laurels when you’ve only had three events. You’ve got to go out there and keep attacking and that’s what I’m doing. I’m not going to stop until the end.”
Flores’ event-high wave score of 9.63 out of 10.00 helped him send Bernardo Miranda (BRA) and Mick Lowe (AUS) to the first elimination round today. The highest rated rookie on tour (he currently sits 9th in the ratings) beat current world No. 2 Taj Burrow in Round 1 of the last stop on tour in Tahiti – the same event in which he eliminated eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) in Round 4.
“It was just a really peaky wave; there was a right and a left,” Flores said of his high scoring ride. “Bernardo was in a good spot too, but he didn’t really hassle so I was lucky with that. I took the wave and the opportunity. At the start, I didn’t really see the barrel because it wasn’t too clean, but at the end, it got really round and really good.”
Flores, like several of the surfers competing in the Rip Curl Pro Search Chile, surfed the wave for the first time yesterday. He was pleased with the quality of the break.