Billabong Pro 2001 – Day 3

Garcia Gets Revenge; Egan Eliminated By Trials Winner Irons

Teahupoo, Tahiti (Monday, May 14th, 2001). World champion Sunny Garcia (Haw)today claimed sweet revenge over Nicolas Leetham (Tah) in the third round ofthe Billabong Pro Teahupoo. 2000 World runner up Luke Egan (Aus) wasn’t sofortunate, however, being eliminated by VZ Hinano trials winner Bruce Irons(Haw).[IMAGE 1]Conditions at Teahupoo were 4-6 foot (1.5m) throughout the day, with windand rainsqualls occasionally affecting the otherwise perfect waves.

Garcia, 31, made his intentions known immediately after losing to theTahitian in round one three days ago. Angry and frustrated by the defeat, hevowed to gain revenge. Inconsistent waves greeted them today and made histask difficult, with the heat going right down to the wire. Ultimately, theworld number one prevailed and even offered an apology for his initialcomments concerning Leetham. The Hawaiian will now face 1999 world and eventchamp Mark Occhilupo (Aus) in round four.

“It was another one of those heats where there were no waves,” said Garcia.”I think he got lucky in the last heat with waves and I was then, as I had abetter one. I would have liked to surf a heat with him when it was morewave-for-wave, so he could prove to me he’s one of the world’s best surfers.He’s a local guy and I guess I need to apologize for saying what I did afterthe last heat. He is a good surfer and beat me fair and square. I guess if Iwas a local surfer and the world champ came and I beat him, I’d be stokedtoo. I just kind of took it to heart ’cause I’m a competitor and he woke meup.

“That’s what competing is all about,” he continued, in reference to thecloseness of their match. “We’re some of the world’s best surfers and youput us in the water and it almost never comes down to who’s a better surfer,but who’s a luckier one. We’re all capable of winning on any given day. Italways comes down to who catches the better waves. That was the case then.It wasn’t that I was the world champ and he’s just the local guy fromTahiti, it was cause I got lucky with waves and he didn’t.”[IMAGE 2]World number two Egan, 31, had his tournament hopes shattered today whenIrons picked up a final ride with less than 30 seconds remaining to securevictory. The Australian actually injured his right shoulder free surfingprior to the clash, but afterward claimed this had nothing to do with theresult. Instead, he questioned the points awarded by judges for his bestride, which left the margin close enough for his opponent to claw back witha slightly above average 5.75 score.

“I got a 7.25 on probably the longest barrel since I’ve been here,”explained Egan. “So I was pretty disappointed about that, as in my mind itwas more like a nine. I put my arm in and out of the wave face three times(to help stay in the tube), and when you do that you stay in the barrel fora while.

“I’m going to have to take Sunny’s tactics and try and intimidate thejudges,” he proposed, in reference to Garcia’s occasionally harsh wordstowards the ASP judging panel. “The guys getting the deeper tube rides havenot been reflected by the scores the past couple of days. I was out the backand couldn’t really see Bruce’s last wave, so I’m not complaining about thatscore, but I thought my long barrel was worth more. It’s the way it goes, soI’ll take it on the chin.

“I just blocked it out,” he commented on his shoulder injury. “I’m going tofeel it later and probably won’t be able to move it. I nearly popped it outof the socket yesterday, but it had nothing to do with my performance atall. The only thing was I probably paddled a touch slower.”

Irons, 21, snuck into his last wave desperate for a score and milked it asbest he could. The Hawaiian found a decent tube ride and this proved enoughfor the win.

“Luke actually started the heat better than I did,” admitted Irons. “I wasstruggling, but luckily I found an 8.75 and only needed a little scoreafterward. Then in the last few seconds I caut a wave and they (thejudges) gave me it.

“I knew I had to get barreled for sure,” he further explained his last ride.”So when I dropped into the wave I just had to stall as hard as I could tostay in the barrel as long as possible and make it look critical. Then Icame out and squeaked another little one. The score could have gone eitherway, so I’m stoked it went mine.”

World number four Shane Dorian (Haw) rode the best tube of the contest andearned the day’s only perfect 10 to dominate his match over WorldChampionship Tour (WCT) replacement surfer Kieren Perrow (Aus). The Hawaiianalso equaled the highest tally of round three attained by world number 13Michael Lowe (Aus) the heat prior, with an impressive 25.5 out of a possible30-points.[IMAGE 3]Dorian, 28, began the match with a great tube. He then picked off his epicride from under Perrow’s grasp, as the Australian held priority. Thelife-threatening barrel finally offered an escape and the Hawaiian chargedout, arms raised in disbelief.

“I got really lucky and had one of the best heats I’ve had in a really longtime,” said Dorian. “I just got in rhythm. I had a 7.75 on my first wave andthen paddled back out as Kieren had priority. A wave came that I knew hadpotential to be really good. He looked at it and then looked at me, whichwas funny, ’cause I tried to act like I wasn’t paying attention. As soon ashe looked back at the wave, I spun around and paddled in. He ended up notgoing and it was a 10. I was stoked.

“That 10-point ride was amazing,” he continued. “Right when I took off Iknew it was going to be really hollow, but I didn’t know if I’d make it,’cause it was sucking down the reef so much and I was really deep. I had tostart pumping (for speed) all the way until the barrel started going overme, and then I just grabbed my rail and didn’t really see anything. Itstarted spitting (spray) and the next thing I knew it was way in front of meand (the exist) kept coming closer, so I was just like, ‘oh my, I can’tbelieve I’m going to make this.’ I was so happy.”

World number 12 Guilherme Herdy (Brz) survived one of the day’s closestbattles against tour rookie Nathan Hedge (Aus). Herdy, 26, actually figuredhe’d lost the heat after watching Hedge successfully exist his final tube.The Australian only needed a score of 5.6 to take the lead, but after beingawarded one 10th of a point less (5.5), the Brazilian advanced.

“I saw his first wave was really nice, and then at the end I thought he wasgoing to get through ’cause his wave looked nice on the outside, and he cameout,” reasoned Herdy. “I thought it was good luck for him, but now I’veheard that I got through the heat, so it’s a surprise for me and I’m stoked.

Hedge, 21, suffered the double blow of having a surfboard broken during theclash. After an early ride, he opted for the jet ski to tow him back intothe lineup, but unfortunately things didn’t run to plan. The ski flippedover, landing on Hedge with his board, consequently smashing it in two.

“I picked a small one at the start and then needed the jet ski to get backout,” explained Hedge. “The jet ski flipped over on top of my head, though,and snapped my board in half. I just tried to be calm, and I found a goodwave and got back in the picture. I only needed an average score at the end,but I didn’t quite get it. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

“I sort of figured I’d done enough,” he continued, in reference to his lastride. “I was semi confident, but it wasn’t enough. It’s gnarly when you’rewaiting around and not sure if you’ve made it or not, it was prettypainstaking.”

World number 16 Andy Irons (Haw) continued his form at Teahupoo today byeliminating round two’s highest scorer Damien Hobgood (USA). Currentlysecond on the ratings, the Hawaiian overcame his initial nerves for a solidwin. With brother Bruce on opposite sides of the draw, a showdown would takeplace in the final.

“Last night it was hard to sleep,” said Irons. “I knew he was going to gooff and it would be a tough heat. I was just psyching.

“Teahupoo’s my favorite (event), but I never seem to make it past 17th (inthe WCT),” he continued. “I just broke that jinx, so I’m stoked to be here.Every heat is another couple thousand (dollars) and more points, so I’m juststoked to keep going.

“That’d be cool if we both make the final,” he added of his younger brother.”I’m just going to do my thing and I know he’s going to do his. He’s noslouch out here either, so he can definitely pull it. It’ll be cool to seewho goes better, who gets bragging rights at the dinner table.”

Official Results Of The Billabong Pro Teahupoo Men – Round ThreeH1: Renan Rocha (Brz) 18.25 def. Nathan Webster (Aus) 17.35H2: Joca Junior (Brz) 10.65 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 8.05H3: Andy Irons (Haw) 18.15 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.9H4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 12.75 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 11.75H5: Shea Lopez (USA) 17.5 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 10.75H6: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 16.2 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 16.15H7: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 20.25 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 12.4H8: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 13.6 def. Nicolas Leetham (Tah) 12.6H9: Bruce Irons (Haw) 20.5 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 20.4H10: Richard Lovett (Aus) 13.75 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 9.0H11: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 19.25 def. Sasha Stocker (Aus) 19.2H12: Michael Lowe (Aus) 25.5 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 10.5H13: Shane Dorian (Haw) 25.5 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 8.2H14: Shane Powell (Aus) 24.25 def. Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 19.25H15: Kalani Robb (Haw) 11.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 6.7H16: Cory Lopez (USA) 24.45 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 15.85d it would be a tough heat. I was just psyching.

“Teahupoo’s my favorite (event), but I never seem to make it past 17th (inthe WCT),” he continued. “I just broke that jinx, so I’m stoked to be here.Every heat is another couple thousand (dollars) and more points, so I’m juststoked to keep going.

“That’d be cool if we both make the final,” he added of his younger brother.”I’m just going to do my thing and I know he’s going to do his. He’s noslouch out here either, so he can definitely pull it. It’ll be cool to seewho goes better, who gets bragging rights at the dinner table.”

Official Results Of The Billabong Pro Teahupoo Men – Round ThreeH1: Renan Rocha (Brz) 18.25 def. Nathan Webster (Aus) 17.35H2: Joca Junior (Brz) 10.65 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 8.05H3: Andy Irons (Haw) 18.15 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.9H4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 12.75 def. Victor Ribas (Brz) 11.75H5: Shea Lopez (USA) 17.5 def. Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 10.75H6: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 16.2 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 16.15H7: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 20.25 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 12.4H8: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 13.6 def. Nicolas Leetham (Tah) 12.6H9: Bruce Irons (Haw) 20.5 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 20.4H10: Richard Lovett (Aus) 13.75 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 9.0H11: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 19.25 def. Sasha Stocker (Aus) 19.2H12: Michael Lowe (Aus) 25.5 def. Paul Canning (SAfr) 10.5H13: Shane Dorian (Haw) 25.5 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 8.2H14: Shane Powell (Aus) 24.25 def. Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 19.25H15: Kalani Robb (Haw) 11.5 def. Paulo Moura (Brz) 6.7H16: Cory Lopez (USA) 24.45 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 15.85