COOLANGATTA, Australia (Friday, March 21, 2008) – ASP World No. 1 Kelly Slater (USA) came to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach to surf big waves. He took advantage of the eight foot (three metre) conditions on offer today to post the highest heat total and single wave score of the day. Event officials ran 20 heats of competition to take advantage of the swell.
Slater, 8X ASP World Champion, left competitors Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Troy Brooks (AUS) needing big scores to beat him when he added a near perfect 9.50 wave score to an 8.00 earned earlier in the heat.
"I didn't do a whole lot on that wave," Slater said. "I did one turn to start off with and then this section loomed up ahead of me that was crazy – it was so smooth, especially for what's out there. I had a ton of speed and I held the bottom turn as long as I could and was able to get that carve in. It reminded me of the turn I had in the final against Parko (Joel Parkinson) that one year."
Slater defeated 2004 winner Joel Parkinson (AUS) in the Final of the 2006 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach to win his second Rip Curl Pro trophy. Parkinson finished ahead of local surfer Nic Muscroft (AUS) and Ben Dunn (AUS) to advance straight to Round 3. His best wave, a 9.33 out of a possible 10, was the second highest single score of the day.
"When I stood up, I knew it was going to be a good wave," Parkinson said. "Although sometimes you get a wave like that and get off and wonder how it was. When I finished it, I thought it could have been a 5.0 or an 8.0, but then I heard the score and was happy."
Parkinson finished runner-up to the ASP World Title in 2002 and 2004 and has been considered one of Australia's most likely contenders for a world championship ever since. Reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning's (AUS) recent title win has reignited a fire inside the Australian contingent – Parkinson among them.
"Mick showed us that it was all possible, especially with Andy (Irons) and Kelly on tour," Parkinson said. "He's definitely opened doors for us all."
Fanning was forced to surf the sudden-death round for the first time in 15 events when Adrian Buchan (AUS) and wildcard Stuart Kennedy (AUS) bested him in Round 1. A relieved Fanning went on to eliminate Kennedy in their Round 2 rematch.
"Round 2 sucks," Fanning said. "My heat this morning was pretty tough. I think Adrian got a 6.0, everyone else was getting 3.0s and 4.0s and I was getting 1.0s and 2.0s, so it's good to get through that heat and live to fight another day."
Current World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) was another top-seeded surfer negotiating sudden-death after being beat by rookie Dan Ross (AUS) in Round 1 today. Durbidge scored a 9.33 and an 8.00 to send former ASP World Tour surfer and event wildcard Nathan Hedge (AUS) home early in Round 2.
"I had a bit of a tough heat this morning, but I saw Dan Ross get a 9.00 and an 8.00 earlier and I wanted to the same," Durbidge said. "I surfed a little bit better and had fun out there. It was way easier to surf than it was this morning."
Ross' upset win over Durbidge earlier in the day was a welcome one after finishing a disappointing last in the first event of the year.
"I had a bit of a shaky start to the year up at Snapper and my nerves were showing a bit, but today, the conditions suited me and I brushed all that aside," Ross said. "It felt good to have a good heat. If I can keep getting the waves, I can keep getting the scores. "
Former winners Taj Burrow (AUS) and Andy Irons (AUS) got the scores they needed to advance straight to Round 3 while last year's World No. 9 Dean Morrison (AUS)was an unlucky casualty in Round 2 – losing to former World Tour surfer and event wildcard Troy Brooks.
A call on the 12 remaining heats of Round 2, as well as the Rip Curl Women's Pro, will be made tomorrow morning at 7:30 am.
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Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.67, Luke Munro (AUS) 7.07, Royden Bryson (ZAF) 5.67
Heat 2: Dayyan Neve (AUS) 10.00, Dean Morrison (AUS) 8.27, Travis Logie (ZAF) 6.00
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.83, Bruce Irons (HAW) 10.83, Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.00
Heat 4: Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 13.77, Neco Padaratz (BRA) 10.67, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 10.14
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 12.84, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.17, Chris Ward (USA) 7.87
Heat 6: Daniel Ross (AUS) 17.33, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.33, Tim Reyes (USA) 3.47
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.26, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 14.84, Ben Dunn (AUS) 9.57
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.33, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.76, Mick Fanning (AUS) 7.24
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.67, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 12.00, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 7.53
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.50, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.67, Troy Brooks (AUS) 5.34
Heat 11: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.83, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.90, Daniel Wills (AUS) 4.43
Heat 12: Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.80, Kai Otton (AUS) 11.83, Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 10.83
Heat 13: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 15.67, Ben Bourgeois (USA) 14.83, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.34
Heat 14: Taylor Knox (USA) 12.26, Michael Campbell (AUS) 11.60, Mikael Picon (FRA) 11.40
Heat 15: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.33, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.83, Heitor Alves (BRA) 7.83
Heat 16: Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 13.83, Roy Powers (HAW) 13.23, Luke Stedman (AUS) 11.50
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.17 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 5.50
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.33 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 6.63
Heat 3: Troy Brooks (AUS) 16.10 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.50
Heat 4: Kai Otton (AUS) 14.50 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 8.23
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Remaining Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 5: Luke Stedman (AUS) vs. Chris Ward (USA)
Heat 6: Leonardo Neves (BRA) vs. Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 7: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 8: Ben Dunn (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 9: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Royden Bryson (ZAF)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Daniel Wills (AUS)
Heat 11: Neco Padaratz (BRA) vs. Ricky Basnett (ZAF)
Heat 12: Bruce Irons (HAW) vs.Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 13: Luke Munro (AUS) vs. Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 14: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 15: Ben Bourgeois (USA) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 16: Michael Campbell (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)