October 2, 2003 (Hossegor, France) Wildcard entrants continued their ominous campaigns in the Quiksilver Pro France today. Remaining first round heats were completed in the US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT), before the threat of a major storm stopped organizers from progressing further.
Great 4ft (1.3m) waves were on offer at Les Bourdaines, improving as the tide decreased and clean right and lefthanders graced the lineup.
Picking up where Australian Troy Books left off yesterday, local French wildcard Frederick Robin showed no nerves against Jake Paterson (West Aus) and reigning world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw). The Quiksilver Pro France trialist was all-class on his backhand, displaying the calm confidence of a seasoned campaigner, despite being in one of his first WCT heats. Paterson and Irons now have to contest the dreaded ‘losers’ second round.
“I waited for some good waves and just surfed without pressure,” reasoned Robin. “It went well for me, and I had fun. It’s good to be at home in France with all the people behind you.”
Patrick Beven – another local French wildcard – did likewise the following match with a brilliant backhand attack to hold off an equally in-form Kalani Robb (Haw), as well as world #2 Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Aus). Robb actually posted the best single score so far with a 9.43, but still required another ride worth 7.73-points to catch Beven’s lead.
“I feel great,” began Beven. “I caught all the best waves. There was a bit of hassling in the water, but I did my job. I didn’t have anything to lose, and know those guys can get big scores easily, so I just tried to stay on the inside position and wait. It’s great as all my friends are here watching and I can show my potential.”
Six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) fought back against defending Quiksilver Pro France winner Neco Padaratz (Brz) and Trials champion Tiago Pires (Port). Padaratz led from the start, but Slater took control with a long lefthander, scoring an 8.1. The Brazilian then snapped his board as he attempted to regain the lead, while Pires was unable to find any high scoring rides.
“I hadn’t surfed a wave in three weeks before that heat and I rode a new board, so I was trying to get used to it,” admitted Slater. “I started getting it going towards the end and found some scores to hold Neco off. Being the defending champ he’s wanting to win every heat, even more than usual, so it felt good to get a win over him.
“I’m glad I get the next round off so I can practice some more,” he continued. “Andy has to surf the next round, as he didn’t look on at all this morning. His timing was off, and he seems to be going through a strange period these past few events, but I’m sure he’ll turn it around quick enough.”
West Australian Taj Burrow set the pace in this morning’s opening heat, earning a 9.33 and the highest combined total of 17.66-points. Against wildcard Jonathan Gonzalez (Canary Is.) and Pat O’Connell (CA, USA), the current ratings #3 dominated with his light-footed approach, performing multiple maneuvers in the tightest of spaces.
“I just tried to stall the organizers as long as I could, as I knew it was going to get better,” explained Burrow, of the two-hour wait prior to their match. “When we got out there it was fun. I had a bit of shaky start, but as the tide dropped I managed to get a couple of really good scores and was stoked.
“I’m pretty happy with the ratings and am comfortable with where I’m sitting,” he added, of the title race. “I’m excited about the coming events.”
Brazilian Guilherme Herdy sealed his opening round win on a fantastic righthander toward the end of his clash with Taylor Knox (CA, USA) and fellow countryman Fabio Gouveia. ‘Herdy’ worked his way down the line with strong backhand surfing, collecting an 8.27 and third round berth.
“I’m so stoked as I had a problem with my knee last week,” explained Herdy. “I haven’t been able to train or surf, but then I got some good waves so I thank God.”
Australian Shane Powell (Avoca) was another standout, earning a 9.0 on a great righthander. He defeated Damien Hobgood (FL, USA), who finished a close second, and good friend and fellow countryman Beau Emerton (Gold Coast). Chris Davidson (Narrabeen) then controlled the final heat of the round against fellow Australians Luke Hitchings (Bronte) and Richie Lovett (Manly) – winner of the previous WCT in California.
A decision will be made tomorrow morning at 9am (local time) as to the day’s schedule.
Quiksilver Pro France Round One Heats (1st>Rnd 3; 2nd, 3rd>Rnd 2)
H7: Taj Burrow (Aus) 17.66; Jonathan Gonzalez (Spn) 12.5; Pat O’Connell (Aus) 11.84
H8: Frederick Robin (Fra) 14.33; Jake Paterson (Aus) 13.17; Andy Irons (Haw) 10.67
H9: Patrick Beven (Fra) 17.16; Kalani Robb (Haw) 16.7; 12. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 12.2
H10: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.1; Neco Padaratz (Brz) 14.76; Tiago Pires (Port) 11.5
H11: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 14.77; Taylor Knox (USA) 14.0; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 13.3
H12: Shane Powell (Aus) 16.73; Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.67; Beau Emerton (Aus) 11.77
H13: Armando Daltro (Brz) 13.5; Danilo Costa (Brz) 10.7; Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 9.67
H14: Shea Lopez (USA) 15.53; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 12.67; Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 12.27
H15: Daniel Wills (Aus) 14.53; Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 13.77; Lee Winkler (Aus) 10.33
H16: Chris Davidson (Aus) 15.0; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 13.2; Richard Lovett (Aus) 11.9
For more information: www.quiksilver.com/profrance