Holmes Secures Rematch With Irons
Author: ASP World Tour
Wednesday, July 14, 2004 (Jeffreys Bay, South Africa) Wildcards made their presence felt today in round two of the Billabong Pro. The Foster’s men’s ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) ran through 11 heats in good conditions, before onshore winds settled in and prompted organizers to postpone any further competition.
Offshore northwest winds created a classic J-Bay
morning, however, with 4-5 ft (1.5m) lines running the length of the long point break. Hollow barrels were again on offer, with the world’s best weaving their boards perfectly through critical sections.
Von Zipper Trialist and South African giant killer Sean Holmes (Wilderness) once again led the wildcard charge in the Billabong Pro, eliminating Taylor Knox (CA, USA) in today’s opening heat. Despite difficult low tide conditions, he got off to a good start and then created a strong lead with a clean barrel ride, while his opponent struggled to find anything special. Advancing to round three, Holmes will now face reigning two-time world champion Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) for the third consecutive year at Jeffreys. Although losing their three-man non-elimination heat yesterday, on both previous head-to-head clashes the local has prevailed, and anticipation is brewing for what is sure to be an epic grudge match.
“I don’t know if I really took him out, or if it was just a question of him not catching any waves,” offered a humble Holmes of this morning’s win. “I think I was lucky, but my next heat against Andy is going to be exciting and I’m definitely going to pick up my game a hell of a lot.
“He’s probably the most confident surfer on tour at the moment,” he continued, of Irons. “He’s got the results and he’s winning contests, so I don’t think he feels much pressure at all. I’m just hoping to pick up my game and surf better.”
Australian Bede Durbidge continued the wildcard carnage, accounting for fellow Gold Coaster and former world #2 Luke Egan in another major upset. Durbidge opened his account with a near-perfect 9.5 for three incredible tube rides on the one wave – the best single score so far, and while Egan answered back with an amazing backhand barrel of his own for 9-points, the young VZ Trialist took back the lead and ultimately progressed. He’ll next meet six-time world champion Kelly Slater (FL, USA) in another third round focal point.
“I’m really happy about that win,” said Durbidge. “I was having a free surf up at ‘Boneyards’ and then ended up getting that wave all the way, so it worked out perfect. I wasn’t even sure if our heat had started, but I was going to catch it either way, it was so good. I ended up getting a 9.5 and was so stoked.
“The pressure’s not on me, as I’m the wildcard,” he continued, of facing Slater next. “I can’t wait to surf against him as he’s my favorite surfer.”
West Australian Taj Burrow made sure he wasn’t another wildcard casualty, leaving South African Ricky Basnett (Durban) a combination of rides behind. The former world #2 has suffered a slump the past two events, but declared his intentions to make amends from here onwards this year.
“I was stoked to get that heat out of the way, especially when you’ve got a wildcard like Ricky, who surfs really good and obviously knows the wave well,” said Burrow. “It was a little bit scary, but the waves were really fun.
“I’ve been pretty bummed with my last couple results, but I’m hoping I can put together a strong leg in the next few ‘CT’s,” he added. “I’m hungry for heats.”
2000 world champion Sunny Garcia showed his experience by surfing a patient, yet commanding heat against fellow Hawaiian Bruce Irons (Kauai). His younger opponent enjoyed a strong start and initially led, but Garcia stamped his authority with an 8.6 and additional 6.47 ride to nail it at the end.
“Bruce is like a brother to me and I’ve been encouraging him to get on tour for a long time, so to surf against him when he’s had a poor start to the year, is hard,” reasoned Garcia. “I want to win, but I want him to do well too. He’s a great surfer and I’m sure he’ll do a lot of great things. He’s one of the world’s best surfers right now, so it definitely boosted my confidence.”
WCT newcomer Raoni Monteiro secured one of Brazil’s only round three berths by eliminating Californian Pat O’Connell. On a day which witnessed four of his fellow countrymen lose, he collected a couple of 7.33 scores to keep the flag flying.
“I’m really happy,” began Monteiro. “Everyone knows Pat is a really good surfer and a great professional, so it was a big heat for me. I feel like I’m stepping up, as this is my first year on the WCT and I’m still learning. The last two contests I didn’t do well, as it was my first time in Tahiti and Fiji, but this is my third time to J-Bay
and it’s happening. My wife is here with me, and she’s 7-months pregnant, so everything is perfect in my life.”
Former world #2 Shane Beschen (USA) made a triumphant return to competition this morning, having missed the previous three WCT events following the knee injury he suffered on Australia’s Gold Coast in March. The 32-year-old faced Brazilian Guilherme Herdy
, but controlled the lead with a great tube and early 8.17 score.
“It definitely feels good to get through a heat,” began Beschen. “I’ve basically been giving my knee time to heal and rehabilitate (the past three months). It’s hard to explain how frustrating it was. When I hurt my knee I was just balling for hours, and it wasn’t because it hurt, but cause I knew I wouldn’t be able to surf for a while. That’s life though. You can’t take anything for granted, no matter what, and you have to give every moment your full attention.”
South Africa’s only full-time representative on the WCT, Greg Emslie (East London), furthered his event campaign by eliminating Brazilian Paulo Moura. The natural footer currently leads the World Qualifying Series (WQS), but with his best ‘CT result being a 5th at J-Bay
in 2000, both he and Holmes are definitely out to claim this year’s title for their great surfing nation.
“I was pretty relaxed in that heat,” acknowledged Emslie. “Paulo’s a tough competitor, so I just tried to surf J-Bay
like it was a free surf and it worked out. It’s just great to be surfing at home and the crowd definitely fires you up.”
Another decision will be made tomorrow morning by 7:30am (local time).
Billabong Pro Round Two Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd=33rd receives US$3,400)
H1: Sean Holmes (ZAF) 13.17 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 6.17
H2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.66 def. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) 8.73
H3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.5 def. Luke Egan (AUS) 13.67
H4: Daniel Wills (AUS) 15.17 def. Armando Daltro (BRA) 10.34
H5: Shane Beschen (USA) 14.34 def. Guilherme Herdy
H6: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 13.83 def. Paulo Moura (BRA) 12.0
H7: Lee Winkler
(AUS) 10.73 def. Eric Rebiere
H8: Chris Davidson
(AUS) 12.5 def. Victor Ribas
H9: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.66 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 12.6
H10: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 15.43 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 13.33
H11: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 12.97 def. Darren O’Rafferty
Remaining Round Two Heats (1st>Rnd3; 2nd=33rd receives US$3,400)
H12: Richard Lovett
(AUS) vs. Beau Emerton (AUS)
H13: Tim Curran
(USA) vs. Kalani Robb
H14: Neco Padaratz (BRA) vs. Cory Lopez
H15: Michael Campbell (AUS) vs. Marcelo Nunes
H16: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Trent Munro (AUS)
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