- Billabong Pro (July 16-26) www.billabongpro.com & www.aspworldtour.com
- Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
- World Championship Tour (WCT), Event #5 of 12
Irons Sets Pace In Epic Conditions
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa (Tuesday, July 16) Current ratings leader AndyIrons (Haw) today continued his 2002 World Championship Tour (WCT) dream runby setting the pace in the Billabong Pro. The US$250,000 tournamentcommenced this morning with the VZ Trials producing four-wildcard entrants,before round one of the main event was then decided.
Perfect 6-8ft (2-2.6m) waves persisted throughout the day, though cold windand rain made for less than ideal spectator conditions. As the sun brokethrough this afternoon, however, the swell increased and presented a classicJ-Bay line-up.
Irons, who holds a commanding position courtesy of back-to-back victories inAustralia and then Tahiti, posted the only perfect 10 of the event so farwith a flawless series of tubes on his second ride. The Hawaiian then lockedin another 9.0 following four barrels on his fourth wave, leaving VZwildcard Sean Holmes (SAfr) and world #4 Taylor Knox (USA) both needing acombination of scores. The Californian broke his surfboard and injured hisgroin during the 30-minute heat.
“It’s incredible out there,” said Irons. “I’m just stoked to get someperfect waves. If Taylor or Sean got my waves they would have gotten perfectscores too, so I was just lucky. Either of those two guys could easily winthe contest. Two other guys out… it’s a dream come true.
“I don’t want to jinx myself,” he continued, of his form this year. “I justwant to keep it going wave by wave, heat by heat. Have fun with it.”
Current world #4 Luke Egan (Aus) continued his charge toward the top of theratings, defeating six-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and RodrigoDornelles (Brz). In what proved a great duel between Egan and Slater, withthe lead switching after each secured another ride, it was the Australianwho ultimately advanced into round three following a backhand barrel rideand series of critical off the lip manoeuvres on his final wave.
“The waves were unreal fun out there, and against Kelly, you know he’s goingto go mad no matter what,” explained Egan. “I got in a good rhythm and wasstoked that wave came at the end. I managed to get a nice barrel and justgot the score (I needed).