ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW) was back in title winning form in Round 2 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast pres. by LG today.
Irons trounced Tahitian wildcard Tamaroa McComb 16.37 to 5.90 in the first heat of the day and scored the highest single wave score (9.70 out of 10.00) of the event in the process.
“I haven’t got a 9.00 in about six months so it felt unreal,” Irons said. “I haven’t made heats in a while and I guess I just haven’t been into it. In the off season I really had to think about that and now I’m really psyched. I want to be here and I want to do well. I like to win heats and it feels good, it’s my new buzz.”
Irons, who was ASP World Champion in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and runner-up in 2006, fell to World No. 6 after a string of bad results at the end of last year. He has come into the 2008 season with a renewed resolve to be World No. 1.
“I have been surfing against the five top guys for the past six years and I have done well against all of them, so I know I can be in that group,” Irons said. “Being 6th last year, even though it’s an ok result, it’s not good enough for me.”
Wildcard Julian Wilson took to the skies on his pink surfboard to put Hawaiian Pancho Sullivan’s Snapper Rocks hopes to rest. Wilson, who is surfing on a pink board to raise Breast Cancer awareness (his mother is a survivor), made it to Round 3 as a wildcard last year as well but will now face Reigning ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS).
“It’s going to be very tough, he’s pretty much on fire as everyone has seen,” Wilson said. “But I want to do better than I did last year. I have nothing to lose and to get the experience and surf Snapper with one other guy out is great.”
Wilson is the last remaining wildcard in the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
Adrian Buchan (AUS) surfed a dynamite heat to dash Jihad Khodr’s (BRA) ASP World Tour debut. Buchan earned a 9.00 early in the 30 minute duel and backed it up with a pair of 8.00s to seal the deal.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work in the past month, so I really wanted to see it come to fruition in the first event,” Buchan said. “I got that first wave and it really hugged the bank, it was nice and steep so I got the good start I needed.”
Buchan spent the early part of 2007 injured but managed to finish 5th in the last event of the year at Pipeline in Hawaii.
“The last three months of 2007 were probably the best three months I’ve had on tour,” Buchan said. “Those performances at the back end of the year plus the hard work I have put in over the last month, has given me a lot of confidence. My body feels the best it has felt in years, my ankle injury has healed, I have worked really hard on it so it feels really strong.”
Dane Reynolds (USA) and Jordy Smith (ZAF) were the only rookies to win their heats today. Khodr, Daniel Ross (AUS), and Tiago Pires (PRT) weren’t as lucky and Aritz Aranburu (EUK) was forced to pull out of the event after suffering an ankle injury in yesterday’s Expression Session.
Reynolds eliminated Royden Bryson (ZAF) and Smith beat Daniel Wills (AUS). Both were happy to advance given the hype their arrival on the ASP World Tour has heralded.
“It puts pressure on me and I can’t really believe that they have singled out Jordy (Smith) and myself when there are so many good rookies on the tour,” Reynolds said. “Jay Thompson is one of my favourite surfers amongst others, so it is sort of funny but I try not to let it get to me.”
Thompson received a bye when Fred Pattachia (HAW) pulled out of the event citing a severe contusion to his right thigh after a mishap freesurf at Pipeline a couple of weeks ago.
Smith was ecstatic to advance to Round 3.
“I definitely feel excited, it’s my first event and my second heat,” Smith said. “In my first heat I got a bit unlucky, but today that didn’t happen and I’m just having fun surfing with some of my heroes.”
He will meet 2006 ASP Rookie of the Year Bobby Martinez (USA) in the next round.
Another call on competition status will be made at 7am tomorrow morning.