Burrow Sets Pace / Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Figueira da Foz, Portugal (Wednesday, September 18) Former world #2 Taj Burrow (Aus) was today’s pace setting in the Figueira Pro. Organizers initially placed the US$310,000 event on hold for two hours this morning, before women’s round one and then most of the men’s second were decided.

Conditions at Cabadelo beach were less than favorable throughout the day, with onshore winds messing up the 3ft (1m) surf.

Burrow, who finished runner-up in the 2000 Figueira Pro, today dominated his clash with Marcelo Nunes (Brz). The Australian opened with an 8.5, before launching a huge aerial reverse spin and landed with ease to score a near-perfect 9.8.

“That was fun,” said a smiling Burrow afterward. “I was actually really nervous, but once I got my first wave under my belt I cruised more than normal and got a big score. There were a couple good ramps out there, so I wanted to get loose at the end.

“I was glad they rewarded it,” he continued, of his aerial maneuver. “I got in two good turns and then it had a ramp and the wind was perfect. There was no way I could resist, even if I needed a score (laughs), it was just a perfect little section. Stoked I made it and stoked I got a good score. It’s always good for airs here, so I hope I can just keep my confidence going and make every air I go for, as I know the judges like them. Pretty psyched, as it’s always good to get out of that round.”

Current #5 Joel Parkinson (Aus) eliminated local wildcard hero Tiago Pires (Port). The pair put on a great show, though the Australian capitalized with a 9.25 to advance into round three.

“He was definitely the hardest wildcard in the event and a local hero, so I didn’t want to surf against him,” admitted Parkinson. “The waves are really hard and it just came down to whoever got them. It was my lucky day, as Tiago surfed really well and could have had me on a couple of waves.

“There’s a lot pressure in that round,” he added. “I’ve got a good board though, and I’m feeling good after surfing so much the past few days. Hopefully I can go all the way.

Current ratings #2 Luke Egan (Aus) continued his recent success, advancing over replacement surfer Jose Antunes (Port) in the first heat of the men’s second round.

Current #3 Michael Lowe (Aus) also advanced, though there was some controversy during his match with wildcard Jose Gregorio (Port). The Portuguese surfer held priority at one point, and though the two contestants were surfing separate sections of the beach, Lowe caught a wave the judges ultimately deemed was connected to Gregorio’s. The Australian was therefore awarded zero points, despite it being one of his better rides. Although he went on to win, the 25-year-old was still visibly frustrated upon exiting the water.

“There was a priority call on what was probably my best wave,” said Lowe. “The guy was sitting 300m down the beach and I was right over in the corner. You can’t tell me there was one clean line out there, but they called my wave a zero. If that had of cost me the heat I would have been very upset. Jose’s a really good surfer, so I didn’t know what he was going to pull out down the beach. I just had to concentrate on my own game and it ended up working out.”

Shane Dorian (Haw) ousted Paul Canning (SAfr) from the Figueira Pro in the day’s final heat, after their match was brought forward to accommodate Pat O’Connell’s (USA) missing equipment situation. The 30-year-old got off to a flying start, collecting two back-to-back solid scores, and progressed to round three.

“I was a little worried since the conditions were deteriorating so rapidly,” said Dorian afterward. “It was tough, but I’m stoked I won. I just tried to get all psyched beforehand, and drank a bunch of energy drinks so I was just buzzing, and it worked.”