Thurso East - Scotland (Wednesday, April 13, 2011) - The opening day of the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Scotland, an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 6-Star event, saw some of the world's top surfers offer incredible displays of surfing in clean 6ft (1.5m) barrelling rights at Thurso East. Cold winds and freezing waters were compensated with perfect swell lines wrapping along the slab reef producing an excellent kick-off to stop No. 2 of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series 2011.
Micah Lester (GBR) 30, claimed the first 10 point ride of the event with a perfect barrel across the Thurso reef late in the evening. Lester needed only seconds to open his account to perfection and to the delight of the large crowd on hand watching the action.
"In the first minute it just turned on and I lucked into a bomb. A lot of the waves have been pinching on the take off and then you have to pull into the end section. All the guys were trying to hold the inside position so I sat wide and when I saw the set I bolted across, took off and lucked into one that went from the start to the finish. The best wave I've ever caught at Thurso East."
Lester, who only got back into the water after a serious ankle injury that kept him from surfing for almost a year, was unable to find a backup and finished in second place behind heat winner Brent Dorrington (AUS). Lester had to hold off a desperate challenge by Shaun Cansdell (AUS) who fought down to the final siren.
"I was nervous for sure. Against Shaun Cansdell you know for sure he is going to pull something out of the bag but if the waves don't come through they don't come through. It is quite typical for Thurso with such long range swells," explained Lester. "They have to wrap into the bay so you will get a bomb set and then there will be long waits with the cold wind and the cold water and you have to make sure you get the sets."
Romain Laulhe (Anglet FRA) 26, showed incredible barrel riding skills to claim the highest two-wave total of the day with 17.54 out of 20. Laulhe put it all together and found himself in complete rhythm with the epic late afternoon session.
"I was excited about getting into the water but at the same time I haven't surfed a lot this winter so I was quite stressed at the beginning but after the first good wave I could relax and enjoy my time in the water. Here, even if you have a good one you can lose a heat," continued Laulhe. "There are not so many waves in a heat so it all came together today. You just have to thank Mother Nature for this gift."
Laulhe, who has returned to full time studying, has surfed only on a handful of occasions during the European winter and finds this life style change and break in active surfing has helped him to develop.
"I couldn't be happier after that because I didn't expect to win my heat. I went out to just have fun and to do my best but in the end everything came my way so perfect. It was hard to find my surf again but I think sometimes it is good to stop, think about your surf and you improve when you come back again. I am stoked just to surf because I was sitting in a classroom yesterday so now it`s cool."
Richard Christie (NZL) 21, stamped his mark with two excellent waves exiting throaty deep barrels combined with huge front-side hacks to achieve a massive two-wave total of 17.50 out of 20 and advances through to Round Two of competition.
"I saw the guys getting barreled in the heats before me and I went out there thinking the same thing that I wanted to get one of those as well. I felt relaxed and it just kept pumping and it was great to get a couple of runners. To get in the tunnel." (laughs). It is so good to get back to Europe and to Scotland again," continued Christie. "With the waves as fun as they are today I hope that it just keeps up."
Lincoln Taylor (North Stradbroke Is, AUS) 22, laid down a series of massive backhand smashes in the most critical sections of a long right to earn a 9.10 out of 10 and finished with one of the highest two-wave heat totals of the day, 15.60. Taylor, who is yet to find a result in the CWC series, felt relieved to get through Round One of the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Scotland.
"I went out there to feel my feet and on my backhand I felt strong for sure. You don't want to get knocked in Scotland in the first Round because it is a long way to come. I got knocked out in Gisbourne first up which was a bummer so it's good to get through here to get the ball rolling."
Dion Atkinson (Seaford SA, AUS) 24, tore into the open faces on offer early this morning, with powerful forehand gouges and skillful tube riding to amass a two-wave combined total of 15.33 and wants to continue with his positive campaign start.
"It is good but it is a bit worrying if you don't start off with a strong wave. You then have to battle for position so it is always good to get one under the belt and control the heat a little bit more. You can then wait and try and consolidate your position which I did and managed to get 3 or 4 good waves."
Atkinson, who is accustomed to the icy waters of Thurso East, reveled in the near perfect peeling rights and never looked in doubt of advancing ahead of young Japanese surfer Yujiro Tsuji.
"It is ideal out there at the moment if you can handle the cold you couldn't ask for more to compete in. It is good enough to be a World Tour event. I've been here for the past 4 years and I'm from South Australia where we have cold water and reef set ups like here so I feel right at home here."
Patrick Beven (FRA), who placed first in his 30-minute clash scoring only one wave, emerged from a huge forehand barrel to earn 9.33 out of 10. In a bizarre wave starved second half of the heat, Bevan searched for a backup score which never eventuated.
"It feels like I haven't made a heat in months," laughed Bevan. "I was so happy to make that wave. I knew that there were sets and I just waited and waited. I only had one score but the other guys had no big scores so I tried to find another wave which never came. The wind and size is good today and I hope it stays like this all week."
The O'Neill Coldwater Classic Scotland is stop No. 2 of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series with surfers out to solidify their overall standings as well as gain valuable Asp World Rankings points.
The O'Neill Cold Water Classic Scotland is scheduled from April 13 -19, 2011. For more information, and all upcoming results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast log-on to http://www.oneill.com/cwc/Scotland.html or www.aspeurope.com
UPCOMING O'NEILL CWC SCOTLAND ROUND ONE MATCH-UPS
Heat 21: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), Brendon Gibbens (ZAF), James Taipan Woods (AUS), Tom Buttler (GBR)
Heat 22: Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Kevin Sullivan (HAW), Christophe Allary (REU), Nicholas Squires (AUS)
Heat 23: Patrick Daniel (GBR), Chris Waring (USA), Alexander El Naib (DEU), Love Hodel (HAW)
Heat 24: Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Vincent Duvignac (FRA), Cory Arrambide (USA)
O'NEILL CWC SCOTLAND ROUND ONE RESULTS
Heat 1: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 15.33, Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 13.07, Stephen Walsh (AUS) 9.10, Mark Boyd 4.80
Heat 2: Gordan Fontaine (FRA) 13.30, Brian Toth (PRI) 12.27, Jano Belo (BRA) 11.37
Heat 3: Joan Duru (FRA) 15.23, Justin Mujica (PRT) 11.84, Hugo Savalli (REU) 8.17, Michael Bailey (USA) 5.20
Heat 4: Kristian Kymerson (BRA) 13.70, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.44, Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 7.00, Morgan Faulkner (HAW) 6.07
Heat 5: Tim Boal (FRA) 13.33, Reubin Pearce (GBR) 10.10, Brad Ettinger (USA) 9.94, Chris Salisbury (AUS) 9.20
Heat 6: Jay Quinn (NZL) 12.16, Norman Landa (EUK) 11.70, Renato Galvao (BRA) 10.20, Perth Standlick (AUS) 9.53
Heat 7: Hodei Collazo (EUK) 13.00, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 10.77, Brett Barley (USA) 7.60, Igor Munian (EUK) 6.40
Heat 8: Noboyuki Osawa (JPN) 11.63, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 10.83, Sam Lamiroy (GBR) 7.76, Nic von Rupp (DEU) 7.70
Heat 9: Charles Martin (GLP) 11.00, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 10.13, Jarrad Howse (AUS) 9.60, Joao Guedes (PRT) 9.50
Heat 10: Eneko Acero (EUK) 14.70, Russel Winter (GBR) 12.33, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 12.00, Willie Safreed (USA) 4.00
Heat 11: Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 15.60, Alain Riou (PYF) 9.16, Chris Friend (AUS) 6.26, Luca Petersen Guichard (NOR) 4.66
Heat 12: Patrick Beven (FRA) 9.33, Jayce Robinson (GBR) 7.34, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 5.33, Alan Stokes (GBR) 2.17
Heat 13: Indar Perez (EUK) 13.00, Teppei Tajima (JPN) 9.07, William Cardoso (BRA) 6.96, Jaymes Triglone (AUS) 4.00
Heat 14: Romain Cloitre (FRA) 13.33, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 9.16, Yannick de Jager (NDL) 8.93, Freddie Meadows (SWE) 4.93
Heat 15: Leonardo Neves (BRA) 16.00, Adrien Toyon (REU) 14.84, Dane Anderson (USA) 12.03, Oli Adams (GBR) 7.67
Heat 16: Richard Christie (NZL) 17.50, Killian Garland (USA) 9.84, Stuart Campbell (GBR) 8.83, Joackim Petersen Guichard (NOR) 8.67
Heat 17: Romain Laulhe (FRA) 17.54, Glen Hall (IRL) 13.26, Jonny Craft (USA) 9.77, Chris Noble (GBR) 3.60
Heat 18: Yuri Sodre (BRA) 7.66, Jared Thorne (USA) 6.20, Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) 5.40, Nick Riley (AUS) 5.27
Heat 19: Davey Cathels (AUS) 15.50, Filipe Jervis (PRT) 8.20, Taylor Thorne (USA) 7.87
Heat 20: Brent Dorrington (AUS) 14.94, Micah Lester (GBR) 10.00, Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 9.23, Casey Grant (ZAF) 4.07