Round 2 goes off in 3-4 foot waves at Snapper RocksCLICK HERE for a photo gallery from the eventThe sudden-death second round of the Association of Surfing Professionals Foster’s Men's World Tour event got underway in pristine three-to-four foot (1.5m) conditions beneath equally flawless skies and in front of a capacity crowd of surf and sun worshippers.
Local lad Luke Munro faces a daunting rematch with three-time world champion Andy Irons (Hawaii) after he became the sole surviving wildcard in the Quiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast today.
While Californian Dane Reynolds (USA) and fellow wildcard Shaun Gossman (Aus) both tumbled, Munro, 22, stared down ruthless Brazilian Peterson ‘The Animal’ Rosa in a thrilling encounter.
The duo went tit-for-tat in the mechanically perfect point waves, at one stage up and riding simultaneously on separate waves, both securing excellent high-scoring barrel rides punctuated by radical forehand turns.
Munro held off a determined Rosa to win the heat 14.17-12.33.
"It’s just such a relief to get through that heat," said Munro, who hails from Currumbin on the southern Gold Coast.
"I was really nervous surfing against Peterson Rosa. They call him The Animal – he's just this Brazilian who never, ever gives up. He can pull eights out of anywhere."
Munro's victory set up a Round three confrontation with Irons, who only just pipped the Gold Coast surfer in the third round of last year's Quiksilver Pro by smartly utilizing priority tactics.
"I’ll be looking at going at least one better," Munro said. "I'm feeling really good, my boards are going well and I'm just taking it one heat at a time."
In a wave-starved encounter, Wollongong's Lowe notched a high-scoring 7.83-point ride early but had to wait until the dying minutes to seal victory with a 6.10-point back-up wave.
Lowe was delighted with the result after the disappointment of losing his first-round heat on Thursday by a fraction of a point.
"That 33rd (place) round is the about the hardest round," observed the likeable goofy footer.
"Kirk's the new guy on the block and I didn't really know what to expect from him. Lucky enough for me it sort of went flat towards the end 'cause I think if a set had of come, Kirk would have got the score."
Fresh from being inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame, Gold Coast veteran Mark Occhilupo – who has announced plans to retire at the end of this season – scored a convincing win over Brazil's Renan Rocha.
'Occy', the 1999 world champion and who at 38 is easily the oldest surfer on the tour, also had to dig deep to extract the most from an inconsistent ocean as the tide dropped. He went on to down Rocha 11.50 to 8.73.
"I was definitely nervous because it might be last year," said Occy, whose display was chock full of trademark powerhouse backhand maneuvers. "It's a different kind of pressure that I haven't felt before.
"I settled down but I needed more waves. I was lucky to get through with what I had."
Occhilupo, who would like nothing better than a maiden Quiksilver Pro victory in his testimonial season, was hopeful a new swell tipped for early next week would materialise.
"I'm stoked I made it through because there's a rumour there's a swell coming," he said.
As the morning progressed and an onshore wind sprang up, Californian rookie Chris Ward (USA) made a mockery of the deteriorating conditions to amass a near-perfect heat score of 19.5 points out of a possible 20 to blitz Hawaii's Kalani Robb.
Living up to his reputation as one of the most exciting new talents on the tour, Ward's tally included a scintillating 10-point ride in which he executed a mind-boggling aerial, floaters and a devastating off-the-lip snap.
"The conditions were just perfect … rippable, a couple of tubes," Ward enthused. "Guess I lucked into the two best waves of the heat so I'm stoked."
Sydney's Nathan 'Hog' Hedge (Aus), who finished a career-best seventh last season, had a hard-fought win over Californian wildcard Dane Reynolds in the opening heat of the day.
"I'm wrapped – I'm out of that danger round now," Hedge said. "It's almost better than going straight into Round three because I've had another heat out there and I had a win. It's 33rd place and its do or die."
Florida's World No.9 Damien Hobgood had a close tussle with local wildcard Shaun Gossman, who showed his intimate knowledge of the peeling Snapper break with some super-smooth tube rides.
But Hobgood ultimately prevailed with a tally of 15.33 points, including a stunning 8.83-point ride in which he sped and weaved his way through the barrel before unleashing a series of explosive backhand re-entries.
"It knew it was going to be hard – it's definitely Gossy's conditions out there," Hobgood said of the tight-winding low-tide tubes. "I was really stoked with the win – Gossy's a great guy and a great surfer."
In other results 2003 Quiksilver Pro winner Dean Morrison (Australia) advanced over Florida's Shea Lopez (USA), former world number two Dan Wills (Byron Bay, Australia) defeated American newcomer Tim Reyes and Australian Tom Whittaker eliminated fellow countryman Toby Martin.
Gold Coast local and round one standout Bede Durbidge currently holds the lead in co-sponsor Evian's specialty award, the "Evian Longest Tuberide" for negotiating an awesome six-second tube ride during his opening heat. Durbidge eclipsed rides by Peterson Rosa (Brazil) and Munro who had both logged four-second tubes and is now the frontrunner for the AU$5,000 bonus prize.
Roxy Pro tour rookie Claire Bevilacqua (WA, Aus) leads the women's division with a four second tube negotiated on day one.
The Grand Final of the Quiksilver World Airshow Series is on standby tomorrow with the one hour decider to feature the four highest ranked aerial surfers on the 2004 ratings – Josh Kerr (Gold Coast, Qld, Aus), Asher Pacey (Kingscliff, NSW, Aus), James Catto (Gracetown, WA, Aus), Dion Agius (Currumbin, Qld, Aus) – plus wildcard Ry Craike (Kalbarri, WA, Aus). The winner will walk away with a cool AUD$12,500.
The Quiksilver Pro Presented by Boost Mobile, and the Roxy Pro Presented by Boost Mobile, are both made possible by the support of the Gold Coast City Council.
(1st moves on to Round 3; 2nd = 33rd place)
Heat #2: Damien Hobgood def Shaun Gossman
Heat #3: Luke Munro def Peterson Rosa
Heat #4: Victor Ribas def Jake Paterson
Heat #5: Mark Occhilupo def Renan Rocha
Heat #6: Michael Lowe def Kirk Flintoff
Heat #7: Travis Logie def Cory Lopez
Heat #8: Chris Ward def Kalani Robb
Heat #9: Daniel Wills def Tim Reyes
Heat #10: Phil Macdonald def Luke Stedman
Heat #11: Dean Morrison def Shea Lopez
Heat #12: Greg Emslie def Paulo Moura
Heat #13: Tom Whitaker def Toby Martin
Heat #14: Marcelo Nunes def Tim Curran
Heat #15: Taylor Knox def Raoni Monteiro
Heat #16: Bruce Irons def Lee Winkler