The legendary wave of Mundaka came to life today to serve up a feast of
wave action for competitors in the Billabong Pro, Mundaka.
SLATER SIGNS ON IN BILLABONG PRO MUNDAKA ROUND TWO
MUNDAKA, Basque Country, Northern Spain (Saturday, October 7, 2006) – The legendary wave of Mundaka came to life today to serve up a feast of wave action for competitors in the Billabong Pro, Mundaka.
While earlier today conditions were difficult due to an intense current created by the emptying river, by lunchtime surfers were revelling in incredible two metre (six feet) plus reeling swell lines and high performance wave riding was the norm.
Taking advantage of the conditions organisers pushed through 15 heats today finishing up with round two, heat seven.
The major focus of the day was on seven-time Foster's ASP Men's World Tour champion Kelly Slater (USA) who made his first appearance in the event after missing his round one heat earlier in the week.
Having decided to base himself two hours north in France and drive down when the event is called on, he completely missed the first round when he misjudged the timing of the drive and the running of the event.
"That was basically just a bad judgment call," said Slater. "I thought they would only get about three heats done and somehow they got through to heat eight. I have to pretend that I lost that heat. No big deal, CJ (Hobgood) got through and now I'm through to the 3rd round. So it's done."
Today, much to the appreciation of the heaving crowd perched up on the headland next to the famous wave, he launched into some typical flowing backhand turns to defeat 17-year-old Cory Arrambide (USA) who was drafted into the event when Troy Brooks (AUS) withdrew due to injury.
"He's less than half my age. It's kind of funny," said Slater. "I was thinking about when I was 17 I surfed against Barton Lynch who was the world champion that year and I came really close to beating him. It was pretty exciting. I don't think I've seen Arrambide surf yet, but I hear he's really good."
Sitting on the verge of an eighth world crown, Slater looks remarkable calm although he indicated that he was beginning to feel like the pressure was beginning to mount.
"A whole different thing starts happening when you get to this place (close to winning the title)," said Slater. "Inevitably if you're in the situation where you can win a title, there's one or two events where that pressure is on your shoulders. I haven't actually been thinking about it that much and I get here and there are all these cameras and everybody's wondering what the scenario's going to be. I guess that's why there's a little more hoopla than normal.
"When anyone starts a race one person pushes to the front and it's up to them to stay in front," said Slater. "There's a certain place where you get far enough out and if you hold that lead your going to win. But you always have to be careful with that. You still have to be on the attack. You have to dominate and not defend."
Slater is well aware of the capabilities of his rivals and now with Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Mick Fanning (AUS) joining the race alongside Taj Burrow (AUS) and Andy Irons (HAW), Slater knows he has to be on the ball.
"They (Parkinson and Fanning) haven't kicked me in the knee yet," said Slater. "Maybe that's coming, I don't know. But those guys have really found their form lately.
"Parkinson seems to go in spurts and when he turns on he's the one to look out for because it's just so easy for him. To have those two guys plus Andy (Irons) and Taj (Burrow)… Everyone is in form right now, so it's an exciting time. If I were to lose early it would be an interesting event, because they're all going to be battling each other. But I don't plan on doing that so we'll see what happens."
The most exciting heat of the day was that of round two, heat six between 2006 Boost Mobile Pro winner Bede Durbidge (AUS) and tour rookie Adrian Buchan (AUS).
It looked like Buchan was about to stroll through to round three with Durbidge well and truly behind the eight-ball with only a few minutes to go.
Durbidge was in need of a 9.84 out of 10 to win the heat and at that stage it looked like achieving that task was going to be out of reach.
Right towards the end of the heat the largest set of the day loomed on the horizon and Durbidge was on it carving some enormous top to bottom gouges.
One turn in particular defied gravity as he bashed the lip then freefell six feet down the face to land successfully.
As the scores were tapped in by the judges, it was suddenly thought that he might have done enough to win.
Unfortunately the score was just shy, coming in at 9.80.
Buchan claimed the win and will now go through to round three.
With swell forecasters www.surfline.com predicting positive things for tomorrow, organisers will reconvene at 7.30 with the aim of sending out round two heat eight between Fred Patacchia (HAW) and Mikael Picon (FRA) at 8am sharp.
For today's heat by heat rundowns, athlete quotes both transcribed and for audio dowlnload head to the media centre on both www.aspworldtour.com and www.billabongpro.com
Today's round one results:
Heat 9: 1. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.33; 2. Hira Terinatoofa (PYF) 11.50; 3. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 6.43
Heat 10: 1. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.10; 2. Luke Egan (AUS) 12.50; 3. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 8.17
Heat 11: 1. Phil MacDonald (AUS) 15.83; 2. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.33; 3. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 7.83
Heat 12: 1. Mick Lowe (AUS) 14.40; 2. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.86; 3. Roy Powers (HAW) 11.20</b>
Heat 13: 1. Jake Paterson (AUS) 11.83; 2. Marcelo Nunes (BRA)10.16; Danny Wills (AUS) 9.60
Heat 14: 1. Bruce Irons (HAW) 16.00; 2. Chris Ward (USA) 15.26
Heat 15: 1. Pancho Sullivan (HAW) 17.33; 2. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.17; 3. Paulo Moura (BRA) 10.50
Heat 16: 1. Peterson Rosa (BRA); 2. Mark Occhilupo (AUS); 3. Darren O'Rafferty (AUS)
Round two heat results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.17 def Cory Arrambide (USA) 5.27
Heat 2: Hodei Collazo (EUK) 9.17 def Taylor Knox (USA) 9.00
Heat 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 16.33 def Hira Terinatoofa (PYF) 12.07
Heat 4: Dean Morrison (AUS) def Luke Egan (AUS)
Heat 5: Yuri Sodre (BRA) 15.50 def Danny Wills (AUS) 12.50
Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.34 def Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.30
Heat 7: Toby Martin (AUS) 10.67 def Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 9.50
Remaining round two heat draw:
Heat 8: Fred Patacchia (HAW) vs Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 9: Greg Emslie (ZAF) vs David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 10: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) vs Pedro Henrique (BRA)
Heat 11: Travis Logie (ZAF) vs Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 12: Cory Lopez (USA) vs Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 13: Trent Munro (AUS) vs Marcelo Nunes (BRA)
Heat 14: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs Paulo Moura (BRA)
Heat 15: Victor Ribas (BRA) vs Darren O'Rafferty (AUS)
Heat 16: Nathan Hedge (AUS) vs Chris Ward (USA)