Hobgood Charges Into Semifinals
Quiksilver Pro (May 26 – June 7) www.quiksilver.com & www.aspworldtour.comAssociation of Surfing Professionals (ASP)2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Tavarua & Namotu Islands, Fiji (Thursday, May 30) Reigning world champion CJHobgood (USA) today charged into the semifinals of the Quiksilver Pro. TheUS$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) began this morning withremaining round four heats, before the quarterfinals were then decided, withfour goofy-footers advancing – three from Florida.
Offshore winds and 6-8ft (2-2.5m) waves provided ideal conditions at’Cloudbreak’, though the higher tide this morning forced organizers to waituntil midday.
Hobgood, 22, dominated the first quarterfinal against Peterson Rosa (Brz)with an outstanding display of tube riding skills. The Floridian secured hisfirst perfect 10-point ride in the Quiksilver Pro, as well as another 9.4,for the second best two-wave total of the tournament so far (19.4-points).His Brazilian opponent locked in one good barrel for an 8.4, but stillrequired a combination of rides worth 11.01-points.
“The ocean just kind of turned on and I was having so much fun,” saidHobgood, before describing his 10. “It wasn’t like a super big one, but Idropped in and put my arm in (the wave) and started stalling. Then itstarted racing past me and I was trying to catch up. It was really deep andlong, so when I knew I was coming out I was stoked.
“If the waves are good I’ll be trying to have as much fun out there as Ican,” he continued of the upcoming semifinals. “There’s been waves the wholetime, so I’ve been enjoying myself and to keep going in the contest is thatmuch more enjoyable.”
Current ratings #8 Shea Lopez (USA) furthered his campaign by eliminatingratings #15 Taj Burrow (Aus). Already equaling his best result of the yearby reaching the semifinals, Lopez will now meet fellow Floridian Hobgood inwhat is sure to be a battle of the barrel hunters.
“I got a 6.75 for the lead, but after that big set it went dead out there,”explained Lopez, of the inconsistent heat. “I fell and buckled my board on asmaller wave, but I figured it would hold. Taj had priority and missed agood one, which I barely got into for a good 8.0. He was comboed with acouple of minutes to go, but then go that 7.25 at the end to come back some.
“Hopefully this is going to be the best result so far this year,” saidLopez. “It’s just perfect out there. I’m loving it and can’t believe we getto surf with just one other person and now I have another chance to get somebarrels.”
World #8 Michael Lowe proved a giant killer today by eliminating fellowAustralians Mark Occhilupo and defending Quiksilver Pro Luke Egan. In thequarterfinal against Egan both contestants were smashed by larger set wavesprior to the match commencing, but when it did, he emerged from two barrelson one wave for a fantastic score of 9.4-points. His opponent waitingpatiently, and it proved in vain as he still required another 8.81-points atheat end.
“We got hit by a good 10ft (2.5m) set before out heat even started and weended up down on the reef,” began Lowe. “But I was luckily enough to pick upsome good ones during it. To win the event is obviously my dream, but tomake the semis and catch so many good waves has been a pleasure. Being agoofy-footer in these lefts is pretty much heaven on earth.
“It’s been a great day for me,” he continued. “First of all was ‘Occy’ thismorning and then Luke. Two of my childhood heroes, and here I am knockingthem off in perfect waves. It’s unbelievable. I just can’t wait to get backout there and hopefully get some more barrels.”
Egan, 32, has shown great form of late, finishing runner-up in the previousWCT in Tahiti and fifth today. While the waves didn’t cooperate during hisquarterfinal, he eliminated six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) todayand remained gracious in defeat this afternoon.
“”I waited it out and I was ready if one came, but unfortunately it didn’t,”said Egan. “I’m pretty stoked, though. I’ve put two good places together ina row. I’m back in the hunt and picked up my form. I’m bummed I couldn’t getfurther in this contest, but it’s the way things go. ‘Lowey’s’ been surfingfantastic all event and he deserves a good result.”
Current ratings runner-up Cory Lopez (USA) continued his momentum thisafternoon over 2000 world champion Sunny Garcia (Haw). The Floridiandominated his fourth round heat this morning to eliminate Dean Morrison(Aus) with a combined total of 19.2 out of a possible 20-points, and thenpicked off another 9.35 against the Hawaiian. He’ll now face Lowe in thesecond semifinal.
“That was a tough one against Sunny,” said Lopez. “He’s a fierce competitorand started with an 8.1 right off the bat. I didn’t get anything good at thebeginning, but luckily I got some later. I had two really good heats today,so hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow. Lowey’s gnarly and I know he’llcharge, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Slater, who had been the form surfer of the Quiksilver Pro, was forced tosettle for an equal ninth place finish. The highly anticipated clash withEgan saw both ultimately waiting for waves not on offer, and while Slatertook the lead on his final ride, his opponent bettered his lowest countingscore directly after to advance.
“I got the score I needed at the end, but then Luke came back and one-uppedme again,” explained Slater. “Unfortunately it went against me. Myexpectations were pretty high after the last couple of heats. I waited toolong for my first wave, then ate it on a couple and had to play catch up.
“When the year started I said it would probably take me five or six eventsto get moving again, and that’s proven to be true,” he continued. “I’m stillstoked with this past week. I’m going to stick around and get some more surfand relax.”
1999 world and inaugural Quiksilver Pro champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) alsofinished equal ninth after his loss to Lowe. Despite finding some goodwaves, he wasn’t able to secure the points he required.
“I felt like I could have gotten into a good rhythm,” said Occhilupo. “Itwas just a matter of picking the waves when they were right in front of you.I thought there’d be more. I’m a bit bummed, but I’m pleased to lose to Mick’cause he’s a good friend and I hope he does really well.”
The 2002 Quiksilver Pro is likely to conclude tomorrow, with a decisionbeing made by organizers in the morning as to the day’s schedule. A detailedrelease will follow soon after.
Official results of the Quiksilver Pro
Quarterfinals (defeated finish =5th; receive US$8,000)QF1: CJ Hobgood (USA) 19.4 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 14.9QF2: Shea Lopez (USA) 14.75 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 11.5QF3: Michael Lowe (Aus) 16.8 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 13.25QF4: Cory Lopez (USA) 18.25 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 16.1
Round Four Heats (defeated finish =9th; receive US$5,000)H5: Michael Lowe (Aus) 14.0 def. Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.75H6: Luke Egan (Aus) 12.2 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.75H7: Cory Lopez (USA) 19.2 def. Dean Morrison (Aus) 15.95H8: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 16.0 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 10.6
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