[IMAGE 1]Garcia, 30, took out the first two World Championship Tour (WCT) events in Australia earlier this year and cemented a ratings lead that cannot be over-taken this week despite today1s result. Still, the fiery Hawaiian was clearly disappointed after his heat, being unable to offer much in the way of an explanation.
“I hate losing,” shouted Garcia from a boat as he headed back to Tavarua Island afterward. “That1s the only quote you1re going to get out of me.”
Herdy, meanwhile, had plenty to say about his big win. The 25-year-old from Rio de Janeiro proved his ability in long left-handers last year, when he placed second in the Billabong Pro at Mundaka, Spain. The goofy-footer (surfs with right leg forward), who finished 1999 rated 31st, has started his sixth year on tour better than ever.
“Yeah, that was a great heat,” started Herdy. “Sunny surfed very well, I think he1s been surfing almost perfect, so I knew I had to surf good and find the right waves with some barrels. On his backside he could do stronger maneuvers than me, so I looked for the barrel and so thanks God for sending them to me.
“The place I come from, where I learned to surf, is very similar to this,” Herdy explained. “It1s a barreling wave, so it was a good school for me. This is my sixth year on the tour and I’ve had some good experiences in G-Land (Indonesia), and in Mundaka. Whenever I can surf perfect waves I try to do my best, always ride inside the wave, I love that (laughs).
“I’m having the best year already. Last year I had so many problems with sickness and other things. This year started different. I won an event (on the World Qualifying Series) where there were some very nice barrels. And then had a 9th in Tahiti last week, and this is a 5th already, so I’m so stoked.”
[IMAGE 2]Current world champion and defending Quiksilver Pro Fiji winner Mark Occhilupo (Aus) was another happy competitor today when he defeated two-time world champion Damien Hardman (Aus) 23.00 to 19.70-points. The win was a big confidence boost to àƒ,à‚Å’Occy1s1 title defense, especially after Garcia1s loss.
“1Dooma1 (Hardman) was a bit unlucky,” reasoned Occhilupo. “He got a deep barrel and didn’t come out and I think he would have got a really high score for that. Other than that I felt really good. My board1s going really good and I hooked into a couple of good ones.
“It1s catch Sunny time really, isn’t it? The last couple of contests have been going good (laughs).”
Quiksilver-sponsored wildcard entrant Troy Brooks (Aus) continued his damage-run in the event with another win also, eliminating fellow Aussie Beau Emerton 20.10 to 17.00-points. Brooks, 21, showing his ability warrants the spot he was given.
“I had a couple at the start, but then it was a long time before I got my third one,” he explained after the heat. “There was like a minute or two to go and I had priority, so I sat there for a while and then finally one came through and peeled the whole way down the reef.
“I’m just getting more confident and hopefully I can get through the next one,” continued Brooks. “I think maybe if we (the wildcards) were in these events consistently there would be a bit more pressure, but we1ve got nothing to lose. I mean, you care, but if you lose it doesn’t affect your end-of-year result.”
American’s Cory Lopez and Rob Machado provided the most entertaining match of the round, generating the highest total heat score and producing the best single wave score of the day during their 30-minute decider. Lopez took the ’bout 24.35 to 24.10-points, eeven though Machado earned 9.5 out-of-a possible 10-points on one ride.
“We were getting barreled everyway,” explained Lopez. “I was really deep on one, riding the foam-ball and didn’t think I was going to make it, so when I came out I gave a little claim to the judges (laughs).”
[IMAGE 3]Only eight competitors remain in the Quiksilver Pro Fiji 2000, with the finals set to run anytime between now and June 2nd, depending on conditions.
Official Results of Quiksilver Pro Fiji 2000 Round Four
Heat 1: CJ Hobgood (USA) def. F Padaratz (Brz)
Heat 2: T Prestage (Aus) def. T Curran (USA)
Heat 3: S Dorian (Haw) def. L Hitchings (Aus)
Heat 4: G Herdy (Brz) def. S Garcia (Haw)
Heat 5: T Brooks (Aus) def. B Emerton (Aus)
Heat 6: C Lopez (USA) def. R Machado (USA)
Heat 7: M Occhilupo (Aus) def. D Hardman (USA)
Heat 8: L Egan (Aus) def. V Ribas (Brz)
Upcoming Quarter-Final Match-ups
QF1: CJ Hobgood (USA) vs. T Prestage (Aus)
QF2: S Dorian (Haw) vs. G Herdy (Brz)
QF3: T Brooks (Aus) vs. C Lopez (USA)
QF4: M Occhilupo (Aus) vs. L Egan (Aus)