Daniel Redman Wins The 5th O’Neill Deep Blue Open

South Africa's Daniel Redman today won the 5th O’Neill Deep Blue Open, prime 6-star, WQS surf event in the Maldives.

Surfing in his first ever WQS final, the 21-year old from Durban fought his way up from the very first round of the competition, brushing the likes of Timmy Reyes (USA) and Greg Emslie (ZAF) aside, before finally defeating Australia’s Luke Hitchings in the final. The win earns Redman 2750 WQS tour points, a $US15,000 prize cheque, and moves him to 4th position on the WQS tour ratings. Luke Hitchings was forced to settle for 2nd place with Brazil's Adriano de Souza and South African Greg Emslie taking joint 3rd.

Today's competition returned to the break of Lohis and kicked off midmorning with the quarterfinals in pumping 4 – 6ft waves. As the sets reeled off of the reef, the crowds on the deck, in front of the Lohis break, swelled until it was 'standing room only' for the final Deep Blue Open showdown. Luke Hitchings, celebrating his birthday today, was looking to add the icing on the cake with a win at the contest, but Daniel Redman made it clear early on that he wouldn't be giving him any gifts in the 35 minute final

Redman drew the first blood, taking off on an early set wave, but didn't inflict serious damage until his second wave, locking in a 7.5 ride to leave Hitchings trailing. Hitchings, as always, remained a serious threat throughout, but was struggling to find the high scoring rides. Despite banking a 7.5, Hitchings continually found himself out of position for the bigger sets. Redman, on the other hand, patiently played the waiting game and Hitchings could only watch as, in the closing moments of the final, Redman pulled into the biggest set of the day and drove hard off the bottom to unleash 5 huge snaps under the lip, a screaming floater followed by a searing layback re-entry. The wave earned Redman a 9.{{{90}}} score, the biggest individual wave score of this years contest, and put an end to Hitchings designs on the title.

Exiting the water, Redman was hoisted out of the water by his South African supporters and carried to the Lohis bar to receive a rapturous applause and his customary champagne shower.

"I'm shocked, I can't believe it." Started Redman, holding a press conference sitting on top of his fellow countrymen's shoulders. " I'm so stoked that I'm lost for words. I waited a long time for that last wave and that sealed it for me. I thought to myself, I'm not going to go on anything that isn't going to give me a big score and luckily that last wave was exactly what I was looking for. It held up and was so perfect that it gave me that 9.9. It's my first WQS final so hopefully I can hold it together for the rest of the year. I'd like to dedicate this to all the boys from South Africa and my parents." He added.

Luke Hitchings didn't scoop the birthday present he had hoped for and despite charging his way through the competition, the regular foot powerhouse from Bronte, Australia was reluctantly forced to settle for second place spot.

"It was totally my fault out there." Began a somber Hitchings. "I wasn't patient enough and I didn't wait for the sets. Daniel did so congrats to him. Job well done." He added.

Hitchings, a former member of the WCT, wasn't the only experienced charger to fall to Redman, as earlier in the day WCT veteran Greg Emslie from East London, South Africa also had his sensational Deep Blue Open run ended by the events eventual victor. In the first semi final against Redman, Emslie struggled to find the longer connecting rides and at the end of the 30-minute heat was forced to settle for joint third, banking 2008 tour points and a US$3,750 prize cheque.

"I'm obviously a little bit upset." Began Emslie. " I've had a pretty good run out there and I've been surfing really well but things just didn't go my way. I just didn't manage to get the good waves. The waves I did get just closed out on me so it basically came down to bad wave selection. I just kept on getting hung up on Lohis corner and just couldn't make it around the section. Dan had the better heat, he surfed his waves all the way through, my waves were just a little bit too short. I'm stoked for Dan, he's done really well but at the same time I'm a bit bummed I lost. That was the worst heat I've had all contest, I'm just really disappointed." He added.

No one could wipe the smile off of the face of the youngest competitor in the contest, 18-year old Adriano de Souza from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In one of the most impressive runs the event has ever witnessed, the Brazilian wonder-kid's amazing charge was finally halted in semifinal number 2 by Luke Hitchings. In a 30-minute bout which pitched experience against youth, experience eventually prevailed with Souza settling for joint third place, 2008 WQS tour points and a $US 3,750 prize cheque.

"I'm so stoked to have got this far, I would have liked to get to the final but hey, the semis is a really good result for me, I'm happy with that." Began Adriano. "Luke was surfing really well out there, it could have gone either way because the waves are so good today but he got the better scores in the end so good luck to him for the final. I'm was just feeling really good, surfing really well and my board was working so really well too until I broke it. But it's been a really good competition for me and one I'll remember for a long time." He added.

Against the odds, The 5th O'Neill Deep Blue Open turned into another classic event. The small crumbly, wind swept waves at the start of the week made way for some of the largest conditions and highest performance surfing ever witnessed at the event. A reoccurring theme of this years contest was experience versus youth and on this occasion youth won, with 21-year old Daniel Redman, the youngest surfer ever to win the O'Neill Deep Blue Open, snatching the title from under the nose of Luke Hitchings. Next year it might be a different story, until then goodbye from everyone at the O'Neill Deep Blue Open.

O'Neill Europe would like to send special thanks to all those who made the 5th O'Neill Deep Blue Open another successful event especially the Maldivian Surfing Association, the Maldivian Tourist Board, ASP Australasia, Lohifushi Island Resort, Matt Wilson, Dave Mailman, all the surfers, the media and of course the Maldivian people.

2005 O’Neill Deep Blue Open Results:Quarterfinal # 1
Daniel Redman def Tim Reyes
Quarterfinal # 2
Greg Emslie def Darren O’Rafferty
Quarterfinal # 3
Luke Hitchings def Royden Bryson
Quarterfinal # 4
Adriano de Souza def Glenn HallSemifinal # 1
Daniel Redman def Greg Emslie
Semifinal # 2
Luke Hitchings def Adriano de SouzaFinal
Daniel Redman def Luke Hitchings