Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia (Good Friday, April 13, 2001). Six-timeworld champion and Rip Curl Pro Trials winner Kelly Slater (USA) todaysurfed a brilliant heat to eliminate close friend and current world numberthree Rob Machado (USA). Likewise, World Championship Tour (WCT) newcomerRodrigo Dornelles (Brz) caused a major upset by disposing of current worldnumber six Taj Burrow (Aus) in their round two clash.
Excellent 6-foot (2m) conditions greeted surfers this morning at BellsBeach, with competitors in round two of the Rip Curl Pro taking fulladvantage. Jet-skis also added to the action, towing surfers back into thelineup after each ride.
[IMAGE 1]Slater, 29, opened his account during the much-anticipated match-up with 8.5out-of-a possible 10 points. Despite having flown up the east coast ofAustralia to surf Queensland’s point breaks yesterday for an epic big swell,the 1994 Rip Curl Pro champion showed no signs of being tired as heeliminated Machado to move into round three for a re-match against currentworld champion Sunny Garcia (Haw), who beat him in the first.
“I felt good… a little tired,” began Slater afterward. “Yesterday Idecided to go up the coast and do some tow-ins (surfing with aid of ajet-ski). I was trying to tell myself I wasn’t tired, but I was pretty beatout there today. I only got about five-hours sleep last night. I got somegood waves right from the get-go, though. I had a nice big one from way outthe back and it stayed pretty steep, so I was able to get some big moves onit. That was my highest scoring wave and kind of set the pace for me. Robstarted getting it going, but then he fell on three waves. He probably couldhave gotten the score (he needed) on one of those waves. Kind of just theway it goes, but it felt good.
“Yeah, we have another heat now,” Slater commented, when prompted about hislooming rematch with Garcia. “I was frustrated in our first heat. I felt Isurfed better than I scored. I’m going to ride a longer board than I rode inthat heat, so maybe the judges will think it looks better or something(laughs). I think Rob and I are little more relaxed than Sunny and I are ina heat. Sunny and I are a little more at each other’s throats and maybe alittle more verbal. It’s a little more of a clash with Sunny. We definitelydon’t take it personally out of the water, but we have no trouble beingreally aggressive toward each other (more laughs).”
Dornelles, 27, who was granted an injury wildcard spot on the 2001 WorldChampionship Tour (WCT) due to a knee injury incurred toward the end of his2000 World Qualifying Series (WQS) campaign, started strong against Burrowand maintained his lead until the end.
“I’m so stoked,” said Dornelles. “The waves are good and I love surfing inthis situation. I love this style of wave – a point break, with long walls.It’s really good for the first WCT event this year.
[IMAGE 2]“I was really excited out there,” he continued. “I knew it would be a toughheat, so I tried to surf my best. I’d just like to say thanks to the ASP.I’ve been trying to qualify for many years, and at the end of last year Ihad an injury, so they recognized all that I had done throughout the year,so I have to give thanks to the ASP.”
Nathan Hedge (Aus), another WCT rookie, surfed a fantastic heat with fellowcountryman Michael Lowe. Although Hedge lost priority toward the end oftheir 25-minute decider, allowing Lowe to catch a 7.15 and increase hiswinning prospects, Hedge lucked into a last minute wave and went berserk toscore 8.0 and emerge victorious.
“We’ve had a few heats together and we’re pretty good mates,” said Hedge. “Iknew it was going to be intense, but with the WCT priority setup, it’s likeyou have a wave to go to town on, then the next one is for your opponent.
“I kind of knew I was in the box seat with six minutes to go with priority,”he explained. “I kind of panicked on that wave as I didn’t want Mick to getit, buut I didn’t know if it was going to be good enough for me, so I was intwo minds and I guess the judges saw that I paddled for it. From that momentI figured I’d maybe given away the heat, but there’s enough waves out therewith the jet-skis to get another score and I was lucky enough to find it.
“I’m feeling pretty good (about being on the WCT). I did the grind on theWQS for three years and now I’m just looking forward to priority in heatswith really good waves. I surfed well in my first heat, but I didn’tadvance, so I was a little bit disappointed. You have expectations, but I’mback with everybody else now.”
1999 Rip Curl Pro champion Shane Dorian (Haw) ended trialists ZaneHarrison’s (Aus) run today, and will now go up against giant-killerDornelles in round three. In a slow heat for waves, the Hawaiian was able todo enough on his first two rides to secure the win.
“It was kind of difficult, there’s not that many good waves coming through,but I got a couple really good ones off the bat,” said Dorian. “I waited forthe good ones and didn’t fall. I got really, really lucky, cause Zane made acouple of mistakes and didn’t go some waves and then fell on a couple. I waslucky, but I feel good. Have a good board and the waves are fun, so I’mhoping it will continue.
“For sure,” he acknowledged, when asked if he was feeling the nerves. “Myfirst heat I had Occy (Australian Mark Occhilupo) and in the first 10minutes he had the highest score of the contest (at that point) and I didn’tget any waves. But it’s nice to get one heat out of the way and a win undermy belt to try and gain some momentum. I knew Zane was going to be a harddraw; he surfs really, really well and is one of the young up and comingguys, so I was looking forward to seeing him surf. I’m just happy I won.
[IMAGE 3]Kalani Robb (Haw) posted one of only two 9-point rides seen in the 2001 RipCurl Pro in his clash with newcomer Paulo Moura (Brz). The Hawaiian surfedat his usual high-paced rate, and upon seeing the coveted Bells’ trophy inthe media trailer afterward, made his intentions clear.
“I probably want to get my name on that more than any other trophy,” saidRobb. “I won’t be happy with my career before I get my name on it.”
Peterson Rosa (Brz) amassed both the day and events’ highest combined pointtally of 24.35 out of a possible 30 points, putting an end to RussellWinter’s (UK) tournament in the process.
Official results of the Rip Curl Pro Day 4; Round Two
H1: Kelly Slater (USA) 23.0 def. Rob Machado (USA) 21.25
H2: Shane Dorian (Haw) 17.25 def. Zane Harrison (Aus) 13.4
H3: Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 20.23 def. Taj Burrow (Aus) 20.15
H4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.9 def. Joca Junior (Brz) 15.75
H5: Kalani Robb (Haw) 21.1 def. Paulo Moura (Haw) 14.25
H6: Shea Lopez (USA) 21.0 def. Mark Bannister (Aus) 20.5
H7: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 17.95 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 17.5
H8: Nathan Hedge (Aus) 24.25 def. Michael Lowe (Aus) 22.05
H9: Cory Lopez (USA) 21.6 def. Sasha Stocker (Aus) 16.9
H10: Nathan Webster (Aus) 19.5 def. Chris Davidson (Aus) 12.35
H11: Luke Hitchings (Aus) 16.1 def. Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 15.6
H12: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 24.35 def. Russell Winter (UK) 15.5
H13: Paul Canning (SAfr) 11.75 def. Renan Rocha (Brz) 11.4
H14: Armando Daltro (Brz) 16.5 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 14.05
H15: Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 19.0 def. Shawn Sutton (Haw) 13.80
H16: Taylor Knox (USA) 17.40 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 13.30
* All heat scores are always available on www.aspworldtour.com