Friday, September 3, 2004 (Hebara, Japan) The Quiksilver Pro scored today by relocating to Japan’s version of the legendary righthand point break ‘{{{Malibu}}}’. Round two of the Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tournament (WCT) was completed in epic conditions, with four heats of the third also decided.

Typhoon ‘Songda’ produced the best competition surf ever witnessed in Japan, with hollow 6ft (2m) waves continuing all day. Hordes of local enthusiasts, together with international media, were captivated by state-of-art performances. A surreal setting mixed the beautiful Katsuura bay – littered with various surf breaks and a traditional Japanese Temple, together with the modern highway and overpass pathway utilized by contest officials and spectators.

Australian Danny Wills (Byron Bay) utilized conditions to eliminate fellow countryman and WCT replacement Luke Hitchings (Bronte) with the day’s top scores. Having previously won back-to-back WCT’s here in 1998, Wills again displayed winning form with two eight plus rides in his tally to advance into round three. He’ll face Californian Tim Curran tomorrow.

“Never thought we’d get waves like this in Japan,” reasoned Wills. “It’s unreal. I was frothing a bit at the start cause it was so fun, but stoked to be through.”

Brazilian Armando Daltro posted his first WCT heat win of the year, accounting for world #7 Taylor Knox (CA, USA). Despite being rated last on the current ratings, Daltro let loose on his forehand to post a brilliant 9-point ride and take control. Having won a 6-Star World Qualifying Series (WQS) in Japan last month, the 31-year-old has carried the confidence over and today reaped the benefits. He’ll need that and more tomorrow however, as he faces defending event and world champ Andy Irons (HAW) in round three.

“I’m so happy,” began Daltro. “I love Taylor’s style and the way he surfs, but I tried my best and found a nice wave near the end. This is the first heat I’ve made all year on the WCT. I won the WQS event here last month, so I felt good coming back. I hope to do well, but have Andy Irons next heat, which will obviously be hard.”

Former world #2 Shane Beschen (USA) boosted a huge aerial to create a lead over 2000 world champ Sunny Garcia (HAW). The Californian, who also now lives in Hawaii, missed three tournaments earlier this year due to injury, but is now psyched for the remainder of the season. His next clash against six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) promises to be one of the Quiksilver Pro’s most entertaining.

WCT replacement Troy Brooks (Gold Coast) held nothing back as he performed a multitude of progressive aerial maneuvers to beat fellow Australian and world #6 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay). Brooks recently earned enough ratings points on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) to make the cut for next year’s WCT, and today competed without the usual pressures associated.

“I’ve just had a good European leg, where I won a qualifying event and pretty much made the tour for next year, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Brooks. “I came into this event really happy and relaxed. I love righthand points and it was pretty darn good out there. I just put it on the line.”

Bruce Irons (HAW) secured his second only round three berth of the year by overcoming Guilherme Herdy (BRA). The Kauaian has suffered a worse than expected start to his maiden WCT campaign, but put that aside and surfed a confident heat. He’ll next challenge 2001 world champ {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (FL, USA).

“I fell on my first couple of waves and had to tell myself to relax,” recalled Irons. “I definitely didn’t expect to surf real waves like this in Japan.”

When round three got underway in even larger 6-8 ft (2.5m) surf this afternoon, Chris Davidson (AUS) emerged from an incredible tube to post 8.67-points and forge ahead of fellow Narrabeen surfer Nathan Hedge. The natural footer appeared in sync with the ocean and caught plenty of waves, while his opponent – the current ratings #4 – was unable to find anything substantial and ultimately required a combination of scores worth 15.18.

“I couldn’t believe I was in Japan when I got that pit,” laughed Davidson, of his barrel ride. “‘Hedgey’ and I are pretty close, so it’s hard to come up against each other. Thankfully the waves have suited me here, so I hope it continues.”

Cory Lopez (FL, USA) secured a couple of much-needed wins, eliminating Australians Toby Martin and then Lee Winkler this afternoon. The Floridian is currently rated #37 after a poor start to the season, but has already ensured an equal 9th here.

“I had to beat ‘Wink’ as he’s gotten me the last two contests,” joked Lopez. “I’ve had a real hard time competing this year, and it’s really gotten to me. I’ve probably over-analyzed everything, just trying to figure out what I needed to do for a win again. Bottom line is it just comes down to getting waves and not making mistakes.”

In the day’s final match, Darren O’Rafferty created an upset by out-scoring 1999 world champ and fellow Australian Mark Occhilupo. O’Rafferty came alive towards the second half of the exchange, and left the 38-year-old in need of an 8.17 score. ‘Occ’ did catch another wave and gave it a thorough work out, but only managed a 6.07 and was forced to settle with an equal 17th placing.

Other standouts today included Australians Phil MacDonald and Mick Campbell – both accumulating 16-point totals to reach round three. Campbell earned the best single score of the tournament for 9.33-points.

Special thanks must go to the Mayor of Katsuura City, Mr. Fujihira, who allowed the Quiksilver Pro to be held at ‘Malibu’ and created a historic day in Japanese surfing.

Quiksilver Pro Japan Round Two (1st>Rnd3; 2nd=33rd receives US$3,400)
H5: Armando Daltro (BRA) 15.0 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 12.77
H6: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.46 def. Eric Rebiere (FRA) 13.43
H7: Shane Beschen (USA) 12.67 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 11.9
H8: Daniel Wills (AUS) 16.27 def. Luke Hitchings (AUS) 9.3
H9: Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.0 def. Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 9.9
H10: Beau Emerton (AUS) 14.03 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 8.43
H11: Nathan Webster (AUS) 13.5 def. Victor Ribas (BRA) 10.83
H12: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 16.0 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 12.93
H13: Troy Brooks (AUS) 15.17 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.{{{57}}}
H14: Michael Campbell (AUS) 16.0 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.5
H15: Cory Lopez (USA) 14.67 def. Toby Martin (AUS) 12.67
H16: Neco Padaratz (BRA) 14.66 def. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 9.97

Round Three (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
{{{H1}}}: Chris Davidson (AUS) 15.17 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 7.23
{{{H2}}}: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.33 def. Lee Winkler (AUS) 11.0
{{{H3}}}: Luke Egan (AUS) 11.94 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 7.73
H4: Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 13.5 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 11.4