O'Neill Deep Blue Open Gets Off To A Flying Start
Event Website: www.DeepBlueOpen.com
The O'Neill Deep Blue Open got off to a flying start today as the contest sped uninterrupted through to heat 15 of the round of 144 at the left-hand point break of Lohifushi.
Small, long and speedy sets accompanied by light, side shore winds created the perfect conditions for technical and aerial surfing and only the surfers prepared to adapt their surfing to this testing criteria progressed through to the next round. Fiercely fought heats were the theme of the day with progression and relegation separated by the smallest of margins.
In the opening bout of the day, Fred Robin from Reunion Island disposed of his pre-event nerves to take out the heat and ensure a spot in the round of 96. Despite the small, and at times inconsistent conditions, Robin coolly waited on the outside peak for the set waves before destroying them to cruise through to the next round. In taking out the heat Robin relegated current WQS ratings leader Gabe Kling (US) from the contest.
"The start of a contest, especially one as important as this, can be a really stressful time for a lot of surfers." Began Robin. "You have to travel such a long way to get here and if you loose in the first round then you're so disappointed. I'm stoked to have sealed my spot in the next round and I feel a lot more relaxed now. The waves are really small so everyone knows that the judges will be looking for a really technical approach. There aren't that many good waves out there right now so you really have to be patient and wait for a good wave. That's what I did and it paid off." He added.
Pancho Sullivan from Hawaii was another stand out performer in heat 5 this morning, amassing huge individual heat score of 16.22 in the testing conditions. Pancho also held the highest individual wave score until Dayyan Neve (AUS) took to the water, and subsequently the air, to bank a huge 9.17 ride, the highest individual wave score of the day.
"Yeah it's a relief to get through to the next round." Began Dayyan. "I got really lucky with the sets, they just seemed to find me. All I had to do was surf them and I got good scores; it was almost too easy. I never usually have aerials in my repertoire but the wind today is really good for it so I thought I'd just give it a go and managed to stick a few. I really felt comfortable out there, the wave is so long and so perfectly formed that you can really just relax and surf." He added.
As the day rolled on surfing legend and 3-time world champion Tom Curren (US) made his debut O'Neill Deep Blue Open appearance. Drawing the crowds to the Lohis decking, Curren adapted his powerful surfing style to the small Maldives conditions and led a closely fought heat right up until the closing stages. Curren's runners up position still means that he will fight another day in heat 8 of the round of 96.
"It was a pretty good heat. The waves are pretty inconsistent during the heat so it's difficult to get into a good position." Began Curren "It's my 1st time out here in the Maldives and it's a really nice place. The waves are kind of average today. It's hard sometimes to get motivated to compete in contests but I like to surf in them for a number of reasons, obviously it's good to get the WQS points but I really like to stay around the competitive scene and see what's going on and who's surfing good. I've been surfing since 1970 so surfing has changed a lot, the boards have changed a lot. Surfing these days is really exciting and even when the waves are bad it's good to see the technical side of surfing. There are a lot of guys doing airs out there today, I'm trying to get to that level but it's not easy though." He added.
The 5th O'Neill Deep Blue Open is set to continue tomorrow morning with Mike Todd (US), Royden Bryson (ZAF), Teppei Tajima (JPN) and Pablo Paulino (BRZ) kicking off proceedings in heat 16. Stay tuned.