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From Sarge, Quiksilver Pro Presented By Boost Mobile, 4.3.05

GOLD Coast wildcard Luke Munro dealt with the determined charge of Brazil’s own wild man Peterson ‘Animal’ Rosa today in the Quiksilver Pro Presented by Boost Mobile to face World Champ Andy Irons in round three for the second consecutive year. Their re-match is one of several enticing challenges already scheduled for the next time we get back to business, after rising onshore winds forced the second round to be halted after heat 13.

Though the race for the world championship has just begun, the confrontation between Munro and reigning champion Andy Irons will be keenly anticipated by one and all. Their third round heat last year at Snapper was rivetting.

After already causing a sensation by eliminating one of the local favourites in Mick Fanning in the first round, Munro had topped Irons’ high score of 8.00 in the heat with an 8.13, and was chasing the champ’s back-up wave of 7.5, needing a 7.37 to take the lead.

With a minute to go, Munro was slotted in a wave well potential of that score when Andy used his legitimate rights holding priority at the time, and took the drop in front of Munro to claim the wave and thereby salvage the result.

There’s not a member of the Top 45 who would not have done the same thing. For Luke, it was one of those ‘so close, but so far’ situations. He still got a high six for the score on that wave, even though he didn’t come close to completing it. Andy Irons went on to finish second in the event behind Mick Lowe (Aus) and begin a triumphant march to his third world title.

“I’ve now at least matched my result here from last year. I’m up against Andy in the next round, so that’s going to be tough - but good. You may as well beat the world’s number one if you’re going to go in against any of them,” said a bold Munro.

“I can’t wait for the heat. I was so nervous for the same showdown last year. I hope I can put the nerves aside this time and concentrate on my surfing,” smiled the talented natural footer.

Wavering tidal windows and dropping 2-3’ (0.5-1m) swell made it a challenging day at Snapper Rocks today, but perfect summer weather kept the big crowd primed for some high scoring, especially when the tide sporadically synched with the sand at varying stages of the tide.

Californian rookie Chris Ward continued with his blazing repertoire from yesterday to net 9.5 and 10 point rides at noon today to eliminate Hawaiian Kalani Robb and earn a flying round three showdown with Australia’s Taj Burrow. It should be a cracker!

“I’m the underdog, but still stoked to have surfed a good heat, “ said the focussed Ward after his stunning performance today. His ten pointer saw him launch straight out of his first bottom turn and into a perfectly executed aerial three foot (1m) above the wave.

“I took off only half way out and it was kind of going sideways out to sea a little, but I saw the elbow and the line, and the ramp straight off the takeoff. I did maybe one or two pumps before I got to it and then just kicked it, and then I landed in perfect position in the bowl for the rest of the manoeuvres,” recalled Ward who went on down the line for three more solid hits after landing his aerial.

“The conditions out there are pristine and you couldn’t ask for anything better,” continued Ward of his heat eight which chimed with good tide on the bank. “That heat was all about picking the right waves, the more lined-up ones – almost like playing cards, and I guess my picks produced good scores.”

“I’m really stoked that the new judging criteria is going to push surfing to new levels, and I want to be a big part of that,” declared Ward.

To boost the challenger’s stocks, South Africa’s rookie Travis Logie caught the best waves and made the most of them to take out Florida’s Cory Lopez in their exchange in the heat after Ward and Robb’s, which was another when the waves wallowed and conditions inexplicably deteriorated.

“Kind of slow but there’s good ones there if you get em,” observed Cory.

“The kid ripped and got some good waves. He got the better waves, and did what he had to do and he won. I’m feeling good but just can’t get the waves at the moment. I guess I’m starting like last year, but hopefully I’ll turn it around at Bells and it won’t last as long as last year,” added Cory, who started last year with a devastating run of three consecutive 33rd placings.

“They shouldn’t under-estimate the rookies,” grinned a stoked Logie after his win. “All us rookies have been doing the QS for a while now, and we were all due to qualify so it’s about time I guess. I definitely don’t want to sound big-headed or arrogant or anything but we’ve got some talent and some quality too. We just need experience and we’ll start moving up there.”

Indeed, the long road of tough knocks lies ahead of all rookies in learning strategy and tactics. Logie’s heat was just his third man-on-man heat. For Ward, he had only surfed one man-on-man heat before, against Taylor Knox at Huntington as a wildcard 15 year-old. He lost on interference.

Logie will face another Floridian in 2001 world champ CJ Hobgood next, joining Ward and fellow rookies Fred Patacchia (Haw) and Bede Durbidge (Aus) in round three, after the latter pair had first round victories.

It’s a high yield for the new school for the first event of the year, and statement reflecting the calibre of the intakes to the 2005 Foster’s Men’s Tour.

Defending champion of the Quiksilver Pro Presented by Boost Mobile Mick Lowe, was one of many, seasoned pros and rookies alike, who were jittery in their round two heats today.

The receding, and then incoming tide and slowly rising wind swinging from offshore to onshore made conditions differ in almost every 30 minute heat, and some of the lulls were agonisingly long. Lowe got by rookie Kirk Flintoff (Aus) in heat six, but it was no cake walk.

“You can’t do a lot of surfing when there’s no waves. To start with a good score and then have to wait for 20 mins for the next one was not my idea if fun. It made me so nervous I felt like I was a 16 year old again in the schoolboy titles” laughed Lowe after his win.

The swing of the time clock’s pendulum and ocean’s delivery of sets had a lot to do with who got through from the second round today.

Strategic and wave choice errors by individuals came regularly because of how unpredictable the waves were from takeoff and beyond down the line, but they were sporadically counter balanced when an individual’s foe made the same mistakes. There were any examples.

“I can’t read this wave at all,” said wildcard Dane Reynolds (USA) after going down to Australia’s Nathan Hedge.

“It’s such a weird wave, so much current running past the rocks. It just changes so much…I can’t really tell which ones are going to end up lining up on the inside. Sometimes I flicked out when it ended up being good down the line,” lamented Reynolds.

“On my second wave I thought I was in for a five at least, but it was only a three, but then Renan did the same thing. Renan’s last wave looked like a nine when he took off, but then it just shrivelled into nothing,” said Mark Occhilupo (Aus) after getting by Renan Rocha (Brz).

It was also a difficult day for goofy footers who found getting barrelled in the small conditions a real feat.

“I was talking to Kalani earlier, and we were looking at each other saying ‘Dude it’s kind of small out there. I can’t believe they’re holding it’,” recalled Damien Hobgood (USA) who took out trials winner Shaun Gossman (ZAF).

“The waves are actually pretty good but we just know for us that it’s really hard to get into those tight little barrels out there. Half the time when I’m was getting barrelled, I was actually laying on my board, almost against the nose of my board, to try and fit into those little things,” added Hobgood, whose repertoire mainly featured vertical backhand hits.

Brazilian backhanders Paulo Moura and Renan Rocha were similarly affected, making it a bad day for the South Americans. Their countryman Victor Ribas got through over Jake Paterson (AUS), and Neco Padaratz was the only Brazilian to win his round one heat, and thereby move straight to round three. Their Marcelo Nunes and Raoni Monteiro are both yet to surf amongst the three remaining heats of round two.

Conditions are expected to drop further overnight, but when we get back to it and finish round two, other great third round match-ups include Kelly Slater against Bede Durbidge, Sunny Garcia taking on the amped but focussed Fanning, an all-America tussle between Damien Hobgood and Shane Beschen, and Luke Egan is in against Fred Patacchia.

(1st>round three; 2nd>33rd place/225 points/US$3,600)
H1: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.34 def Dane Reynolds (USA) 11.57
H2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.33 def Shaun Gossman (ZAF) 13.33
H3: Luke Munro (AUS) 14.17 def Peterson Rosa (BRZ) 12.33
H4: Victor Ribas (BRZ) 14.16 def Jake Paterson (AUS) 10.00
H5: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 11.50 def Renan Rocha (BRZ) 8.73
H6: Michael Lowe (AUS) 13.93 def Kirk Flintoff (AUS) 12.50
H7: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.04 def Cory Lopez 12.70
H8: Chris Ward (USA) 19.50 def Kalani Robb (HAW) 12.50
H9: Daniel Wills (AUS) 15.67 def Tim Reyes (USA) 9.57
H10: Phil Macdonald (AUS) 15.10 def Luke Stedman (AUS) 10.84
H11: Dean Morrison (AUS) 14.16 def Shea Lopez (USA) 6.50
H12: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 13.50 def Paulo Moura (BRZ) 10.97
H13: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 15.17 Toby Martin (AUS) 12.67
Remaining Round Two heats to be conducted (next call 630am Friday March 5th):
H14: Tim Curran (USA) / Marcelo Nunes (BRZ)
H15: Taylor Knox (USA) / Raoni Monteiro (BRZ)
H16: Bruce Irons (HAW) / Lee Winkler
ROUND THREE HEATS drawn so far:
H1: Luke Egan (AUS) / Frederick Patacchia (HAW)
H4: CJ Hobgood (USA) / Travis Logie (ZAF)
H5: Sunny Garcia (HAW) / Mick Fanning (AUS)
H6: Damien Hobgood (USA) / Shane Beschen (USA)
H8: Andy Irons (HAW) / Luke Munro (AUS)
H9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) / Victor Ribas (BRZ)
H11: Nathan Hedge (AUS) / Greg Emslie (ZAF)
H13: Kelly Slater (USA) / Bede Durbidge (AUS)
H15: Taj Burrow (AUS) / Chris Ward (USA)