FANTASY SURFER NEWS: 2006 Rip Curl Search WCT

How do you quantify perfection? How about this: If you get two tubes, back-to-back, you get a 5.0. But if you somehow manage to race into and through the speed section at the bottom of the point, which here in “La Jolla” means you’ll be coming out of three or maybe even four barrels, you get a 9.97. Is it that simple? Maybe, but it’s a tough call, especially when everything that goes down, one tube or five, looks like a damn magic act.

One thing’s assured however. No matter how you look at the matter, there are waves out there that defy normal quantification. They’re waves so perfect they force judges
to make hairsplitting distinctions, to change the criteria so dramatically that guys who are spending absurd amounts of time tucked in are only getting 5’s.

And this is one of those waves.

If the photos and all the video on the web haven’t convinced you of this already, I surely won’t with words. But let’s put it this way: If the judges were giving out a point for every second one of these guys spent in the tube, they’d be handing out 30’s. Mick Fanning, groomed on the Gold Coast is claiming it’s his “new favorite wave.” And the catchphrase around the dinner table at night is, “The Search is over.” Sound corny? Sure. But with everyone here walking around wearing a perma-grin, from the surfers, to the Rip Curl crew, to the photogs; it’s a tough point to argue.
And while today it may not be grinding out there as hard as it was for the trials and the first two rounds, nobody seems to be complaining. In fact, most of the guys seem to think “La Jolla” just keeps getting better, even as the size drops.

“This place is better than the Gold Coast and better than Jeffereys,” said Slater after powering through his round three heat, “and I think today is the best day so far.” Bobby Martinez, who’s chasing on Slater’s heels in the overall ratings agreed. “The current out on the point isn’t as bad today and the sets aren’t washing through as much,” he said. “It’s a little more inconsistent, but the sets, when they do come through, are lining up even better than they were.”

Today, they certainly lined up for Bobby. This morning he beat David Weare in a battle between two of the best right-point-groomed rookies on tour, which sent him into the fourth round along with Slater. When asked about the quantification factor, about ensuring that the scores went his way, he just shrugged. “Wave selection plays a role in every contest,” he said, “but in the end, the judges are the law. We just have to do our thing and leave the rest to them.”

So, back to the question: how do you quantify perfection? According to Martinez, its simple; tear it to pieces and let someone else do the math.

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ASP Press Release

Round three of the Rip Curl Pro Search WCT, located “somewhere in Mexico”,
scored amazing waves yet again today.

Pumping in at around the two metre (six foot) mark, La Jolla fired all day with
competitors putting on some extra special performances.

Among the best were seven-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Kelly
Slater (USA) who is showing excellent form after returning from a nasty rib
injury, and Taj Burrow who scored what was arguably the longest tube ever seen
in competition.

Slater, although indicating that he is still not 100 percent showed complete
control in his matchup against event wildcard and ASP World Junior Champion
Kekoa Bacalso and will be hard to pin down as his fitness returns throughout the
event.

Like everyone else who has sampled the La Jolla goodness, Slater loves the wave
and it showed on his face when he emerged from a barrel that extended for almost
50 metres and awarded him a 9.67.

“It’s kind of like all just one tube ride,” said Slater. “I think I got about
three barrels on the 9.67 maybe. I just stayed in the barrel for a really long
time. Every wave, you’re getting the tube, and if you get a couple of
maneuvers, it’s just a bonus.

“This place is better than Jeffrey’s. It’s better than the Gold Coast and those
are two of the best waves in the world.”

Speaking on his fitness Slater revealed that at present he’s happy to ride
barrels as they are not as testing on his body.

“I feel pretty good,” said Slater. “I’m definitely not at 100 percent, but when
it just barrels, it’s a little easier to get those scores. I’m not quite up to
full strength yet because I haven’t been in the water a lot. You need that time
in the water to get that muscle memory back. It’s not a huge difference in my
surfing, but there are a lot of small details. I would probably fall less, and
definitely put more power into my turns.”

Slater will face Phil Macdonald (AUS), who beat veteran Mark Occhilupo (AUS) in
round four in a rematch of their controversial final in last year’s Foster’s ASP
Men’s World Tour event at Trestles in California.

Macdonald who was beaten by Slater back then, will be looking to get revenge and
is eager to get a solid result after an indifferent start to the season.

Surfing with a rubber glove strapped over his hand and wrist after having
surgery on his little finger to reconnect severed tendons less than 10 days ago,
Macdonald is thankful just to be surfing at all.

“About one week ago, I was cut up coming in on the rocks at home in Sydney,”
said Macdonald. I had to have surgery on it about six days ago. It’s not
perfect. It’s a bit tricky to paddle with, and it’s quite difficult to get up
sometimes, but I came here with a fair mind just to see what happens, and if I
get through a few heats, it’s a bonus.”

Talking on coming up against Slater next, the solid built natural footer and
last year’s world number five indicated he would not be thinking about his foe
in Slater.

“I’m not really thinking about him,” said Macdonald. “I’m just going to go out
there and do my thing. It’s a pretty hollow wave, and I can ride the barrel.
I’ve gone out there and rattled him before, and I’ll go out there and rattle him
again. I’m just taking it heat by and heat, and trying to get my hand better.”

Just edging out Slater for the highest heat score of the day was 2001 Foster’s
ASP Men’s World Tour champion CJ Hobgood (USA).

ASP International Head Judge Perry Hatchett labelled Hobgood’s performance “as
one of the most beautifully complete backside surfing performances ever.”

Hobgood screamed through one barrel, which ran for over eight seconds plus,
without grabbing his rail and showing extreme confidence.

“That wave was just amazing,” said Hobgood. “I just dropped in and the thing
started barreling. We go to Tahiti and Fiji, and we watch those guys get
backside barrels all day long. And you want to give it a go sometimes, and the
way the waves are out here, you can. This wave and this event will be voted as
best of the year by the surfers for sure.”

After riding what was arguably the longest tube ever seen in pro surfing
competition, Taj Burrow emerged from the water beaming at the finish of his
heat.

His barrel ride extended for over 70 metres and at an early stage on the wave it
looked as though he was gone for all money.

With everyone looking away from wave, figuring he was knocked off, 10 seconds
later the crowd went wild as he emerged right down around the point.

While he wasn’t awarded a perfect 10 as everyone expected (due to it being the
first ride of the day), the wave will be remembered for forever and a day.

“It was the best wave I’ve ever had,” said Burrow. “It was amazing! In and out
of four big slabs, and then the end… I just kept going and going and it was
lifting my board up. I was going so fast, I knew I was coming out. There was one
little window where the wave slowed up, and I shot out. It felt unbelievable.”

Suffering an upset at the hands of Chris Ward (USA), defending Rip Curl Pro
Search WCT champion Mick Fanning was ousted from the event in a close result.

Fanning was left in the dying stages wanting a score of 9.17 to win and as a
last-minute wave approached the crowd went silent.

Fanning did everything he could on the wave but unfortunately fell short with an
8.27, handing the win to a deserved Ward who is showing his finest form for 18
months.

“That was the second time I surfed against Mick,” said Ward. “And he beat me the
first time. We’re one each now and we’ll probably be surfing a lot against one
another. It’s great surfing against one of the guys who you look up to in
surfing. I love Mick’s surfing, and he’s one of my favorites to watch.”

Organisers of the Rip Curl Search Pro WCT will assess conditions at first light
tomorrow morning and will make a call at 7am local time.

With only one full day needed to complete the event and with the waiting period
estending until July 1, organisers have the luxury of waiting for a bigger
swell.

Swell predictions indicate that the waves will drop slightly overnight but will
increase the following day.

Stay tuned to www.ripcurl.com/searchwct or www.aspworldtour.com for all the
updates.

Heat by heat notes can be viewed in the news sections while athlete quotes and
audio downloads are available in the media centre.

Round Three Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.64 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 15.67
Heat 2: Cory Lopez (USA) 15.50 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 13.26
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.50 def. Danny Wills (AUS) 13.33
Heat 4: Bobby Martinez (USA) 17.27 def. David Weare (ZAF) 11.33
Heat 5: Taylor Knox (USA) 12.00 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 7.13
Heat 6: CJ Hobgood (USA) 18.30 def. Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 15.00
Heat 7: Phil Macdonald (AUS) 14.33 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 7.00
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.17 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 15.30
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 14.74 def. Jihad Khodr 5.00
Heat 10: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 15.50 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 9.33
Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.67 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.00
Heat 12: Bruce Irons (HAW) 16.40 def. Mick Lowe (AUS) 2.80
Heat 13: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.73 def. Ben Dunn (AUS) 12.33
Heat 14: Tim Reyes (USA) 15.17 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 13.17
Heat 15: Chris Ward (USA) 18.33 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.44
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) 16.97 def. Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.67

Round Four Heat Draw:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 3: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. CJ Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: Phil Macdonald (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Bruce Irons (HAW)
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 8: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)