48 Surfers Remain In Contention For The O'Neill Deep Blue Open Title
The O'Neill Deep Blue Open continued to charge forward today with the completion of the round of 96.
The difficult surf conditions, which have dogged the 5th edition of the Maldives based WQS surf event, were still in residence and forced the surfers to choose their waves wisely. Despite the testing conditions, the performance and the score lines continued to soar as the higher ranked WQS surfers and the WCT elite made their big entrances to the contest.
The infrequent sets and long lulls made today a day for tacticians. Greg Emslie (SA) was the first of the World Championship Tour surfers to utilize his vast experience to decipher the confused lineup. Emslie stuck to his pre-heat strategy and managed to make sense of Lohis shifting peaks to lock in a huge 8.1 before backing it up with the morning highest individual wave score, a 9.5. The only other South African surfer to make the transition to the third round was Royden Bryson as Travis Logie, Paul Canning and David Weare were all eliminated during the day's frantic exchanges.
"I've been having a bit of a bad run lately so I just told myself to relax and get back to basics, don't try too hard and it seemed to work." Began Emslie. "I started off with a medium score, then I backed that up with an 8.1 before finding myself in a good position for that last wave and got a 9.5. It turned out to be a pretty perfect heat. The WCT format differs quite a bit from the WQS so you have to adapt the way you approach a heat. I struggled for quite a while with that, but with experience I've learned. There's no waiting your turn out here, it's all or nothing. On the WCT you can relax and take the best waves, but here you really have to fight for the best waves." he added.
Current world number 2 and 2003 event champion Trent Munro (AUS) was also in action today in heat 16. Trailing Luke Hitchings (AUS) for the majority of the heat, Trent finally applied the kind of power which has seen him climb to the top of the WCT ratings, when he snuck into a small Lohis peeler and threw down a succession of lighting fast snaps on the open face. The wave earned Trent a 9.5 and a spot in the round of 48. Hitchings took the second spot to advance.
"These are some of the toughest conditions I've ever surfed at Lohis.' Began Munro. "There's a lot of luck involved here for sure but I gave myself the best chance I could by keeping moving and hunting down the waves. I think that's the best way to play it when it's like that out there. It was pretty close between me and Hitcho. Luke had the lead for most of the heat and then I got that one wave from further up the point and it ran down the reef rnicely for me to link a few clean maneuvers together to get that 9.5 score. I haven't surfed Lohis that much this year so I'm still getting my bearings out there but hopefully it'll get better with every heat." He added.
It was also a good day for the European contingent with Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), Patrick Bevan (FRA), Jeremy Flores (Reu) and Marlon Lipke (DEU) all shrugging off the stiff competition to join Justin Mujica (PRT) in the round of 48."It's really hard to get the waves out there, I tried to focus on the sets and that tactic paid off. I think the swell is dropping out there so it's getting harder and harder." Began heat 18 winner Patrick Bevan. "There's quite a few Europeans in the next round so it's really good to be able to join them. We're all getting behind each other and there's a really good atmosphere from the Euro camp at this contest. When you hear the boys on the deck cheering you on it pushes you to surf your best. I hope this is the years for the Europeans at the contest." He added.
48 surfers now remain in contention for the 5th O'Neill Deep Blue Open title and the 2750 WQS tour points and the US$15,000 that goes with it. With so much at stake expect the performance levels to go through the roof as we approach the final stages. Stay tuned.