Hello, and welcome once again to all you surf competition nuts. This time we’re taking you to the newly booming Margaret River of Southwest Australia for yet another electrifying look at the blue-collar subsidiary of the ASP, better known as the World Qualifying Series. Considering that around {{{300}}} tour addicts with pockets full of sandy Sex Wax have all found a way to this — the 2003 6-star rated Salomon Masters — a certain kind of soul-searching is in order. So, with no further ado, please come along into the competitors’ tent for all it’s worth (and you can pay for that with cash or credit, of course).Yes, yes. The Round of 64 is when the big dogs come out to play. Huuu! This event was no exception, as WCT hitmen like Nathan “Hog” Hedge and Mick “Cambo” Campbell were on hand to fluff the commentators’ underwear in between plugs for event sponsor, Emu Bitter. “Oh yeah, next heat we have the ‘Hog,'” they’d say. “Better go get yourselves a cold Emu Bitter, yeah…”

The round of 64 also featured ugly, 10-foot surf. Only one Yankee hopeful did much damage past this round, and he’s a 30-year-old named Shane Beschen. On a mean Tokoro blade he took to the business of shutting guys down with big, Mike Ho-inspired backside swoops. By his side, another Bodhi-like guru was the aforementioned, “Cambo.” Surfing a clear, road-worn gun, both rider and ride dug in deep on every turn with full-rail commitment. At the end of the day, though, young local lad, Taj Burrow, stung their vibe by surfing the heat of the day, only to ditch his board upon exiting the water and make a clean getaway in a fancy, jet-black sportscar. But the event wasn’t done just yet.The next and final day came to with better conditions and still plenty of juice. Six- to 8-foot steamrolling lefts were the go from the quarterfinals until the grand finale, making for some interesting moments. In one long, breathless string of events, it went something like this: Snap-happy Brazilian Flavio Padaratz received a double deathblow from a broken board and then an interference for riding the board his jet-ski-assisted brother, Neco, delivered to him as the commentators begged, “No!” It was as if he knew he’d be penalized, but somehow believed the sheer passion of the moment would prevail. On the other side of fate, {{{CJ}}} Hobgood, started quarter three with a 9.17 that was pure flow–just fearless maneuvering and big-boy WCT style dominion. As a true US ambassador who’s faithful to the commandments of the rail, he ended the heat with a carving three atop a reverse Sunset slope. The final quarter saw Taj Burrow and count them: five, unwarranted mistakes. And since he was going against the fist-pumping duo of Renan Rocha and Peterson Rosa, it was five mistakes too many.

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