Irons Finds Round Three Form

  • Figueira Pro (Sept 17-24)
  • Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
  • 2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)

Figueira da Foz, Portugal (Sunday, September 22) Current ratings leader AndyIrons (Haw) today broke his series of third round losses by advancing in theFigueira Pro. The US$310,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT), comprisingboth a men and women’s division, relocated further north to the main beachof Figueira and commenced with men’s round three heats this morning, runningas far as heat #12. Remaining women’s semifinals and then their main decidermay take place this afternoon.

Surf at Molho Norte was 2-3ft (0.6-1m), though better sand banks offeredgood quality beach break conditions.

Irons, who has been in front since winning back-to-back tournaments inAustralia and Tahiti, lost during round three of the past three events towildcard entrants. Against Neco Padaratz (Brz) today, however, the Hawaiiansnuck into his best ride under the Brazilian’s early priority and posted a9.5 for some much-needed confidence. He then dominated his opponent, whoappeared rattled by what had transpired already.

“That heat to me was like a final,” reasoned Irons. “Just having Neco inwaves like this and being such the competitor he is. He had priority, but Inoticed he didn’t catch it, so I stood up and got a good turn off. Then justmilked it for all I could and it was the turning point of the heat, prettymuch. I knew I had the edge, but if I could get a 9.5, so could he easilyenough. My next wave was a 7.5, so it kind of put the pressure on him.

“I’m just stoked to make it out of the 17th round,” he continued. “I’ve hadthree contests in a row losing to wildcards, so it puts a damper on yourconfidence. To win a heat, especially against Neco, is great. I’m justtaking it one at time from here on out.”

Reigning world champion CJ Hobgood (USA) began his campaign against GregEmslie (SAfr) with a great left-hander that ran down the beach. He collecteda 9.5 for an ominous lead, before earning another 6.5 to seal victory.

“I’ve been watching a couple of heats and saw my brothers’… he opened upwith a really good score,” said Hobgood. “You want to make your first onecount as it seems the person who gets out in front stays there. I was ableto do that, so was stoked. The waves are slow out there so you have to staymotivated to make them look good. You have to hype it all up.”

Taj Burrow accounted for good mate and fellow West Australian Jake Paterson.The pair hassled each other like archrivals from the outset, but Burrow’sfirst ride earned an 8.75 to set the pace. While Paterson then posted an8.0, he ultimately required another 8.01 to advance.

“I knew it was going to be tough as Jake’s one of the gnarliest competitorsby a mile,” said Burrow. “I realized I had to play the game. We had a prettyheavy hassle at the start. We were just dogging each other for anything.

“I’m glad it’s over and done with,” he continued. “I feel great and I’mhappy with my board. The whole week I was psyched on surfing the littlerights at the main spot, but they’ve brought it over here. I got a littlerattled, but now I’ve had a couple good free surfs and I’m confident.”

Lee Winkler (Aus) collected a big win over current #6 Shea Lopez (USA). TheAustralian, who was sitting in 26th position leading into the Figueira Pro,made use of his powerful backhand attack in the difficult conditions toreach round four and already equal his best WCT result to date.

“I knew I had to wait for the better ones, but being on my backhand it was alittle easier to stick my board up through the lip,” explained Winkler. “Iknew if I didn’t fall off I might get him. It’s still my first year, so I’mjust starting to get used to it. These waves are similar to home, sohopefully I’ll bring back the goods.”

Lopez’s younger brother Cory, who’s currently rated #8, then lost to FabioGouveia (Brz). The Floridian surfed well, but his Brazilian counterpartmanaged an 8.4 toward the end and swung the lead.

“I was so lucky to get that wave because he had priority,” said Gouveia. “Hedecided not to go, and I was lucky it opened up for me. I knew it was atough heat because he loves to fly in these conditions, so I was a bitworried about it.

“A friend of mine made this board for another friend, but the guy neverpicked up the board,” he explained of his new equipment. “He gave it to me,I surfed it and won the heat, so I’m going to use it for the rest of theevent (laughs).”

Richie Lovett (Aus) posted the day’s best single wave score of 9.75 againstTaylor Knox (USA). His two-wave total of 18.25 points equaled that of Irons,leaving his opponent requiring a combination of rides.

“I guess it’s all about rhythm out there and that one was probably thebiggest wave all morning,” explained Lovett. “It’s good with everyonesitting so close to the action. When I finished my other wave with a littlebackhand air I could hear all the boys cheering, so it spurs you on.

“I’ve actually had a couple of semifinals here,” he added, of competing inPortugal. “I just like hanging out here. The waves are pretty fun, justpunchy little beach breaks. I guess it suits me and am stoked to keepgoing.”

Remaining round three heats will take place tomorrow morning back at MolhoNorte, with as many rounds as possible to follow.

Official results of the Figueira ProMen’s round three (1st advances; defeated finish =17th and receivesUS$4,000)

  • H1: Michael Lowe (Aus) 12.0 def. Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 11.5
  • H2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.75 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 10.95
  • H3: Taj Burrow (Aus) 16.0 def. Jake Paterson (Aus) 14.5
  • H4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 16.0 def. Greg Emslie (SAfr) 13.35
  • H5: Lee Winkler (Aus) 15.75 def. Shea Lopez (USA) 10.5
  • H6: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 13.75 def. Shane Dorian (Haw) 10.0
  • H7: Richard Lovett (Aus) 18.25 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 13.75
  • H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 18.25 def. Neco Padaratz (Brz) 12.0
  • H9: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 11.5 def. Maz Quinn (NZ) 6.5
  • H10: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 14.9 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 14.0
  • H11: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 15.15 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 12.65
  • H12: Kalani Robb (Haw) 16.0 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 14.75

Remaining round three heats

  • H13: Luke Egan (Aus) vs. Guilherme Herdy (Brz)
  • H14: Peterson Rosa (Brz) vs. Dean Morrison (Aus)
  • H15: Danny Wills (Aus) vs. Renan Rocha (Brz)
  • H16: Mick Fanning (Aus) vs. Shane Powell (Aus)