The Billabong Pro Mundaka, Event No. 8 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, completed the opening eight heats of Round 1 today in clean three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at the primary venue.
Opting to run the man-on-man elimination Round 1 format, the Billabong Pro Mundaka played witness to some incredible drama today, with surfers fighting for both requalification and solid footing on the ASP World Tour ratings.
Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 24, former ASP World Junior Champion (2005) and 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie, was the standout on Day 1 of competition, netting the high heat total of a 15.80 out of a possible 20 for a barrage of backhand turns, eliminating wildcard Hodei Collazo (EUK).
“Hodei (Collazo) is really dangerous,” Bacalso said. “I know the mindset of the wildcard, and when I used to be one, all I wanted to do was shatter dreams. This is his home spot and to be honest, I was really scared going into this heat. Hodei got the one at the start, then I got one, then I had to wait until the end to pick up my second score. Stoked I did though and avoided the go-home elimination Round 1.”
Currently ranked No. 19 on the ASP World Tour ratings, Bacalso currently leads the charge in the hunt for 2009 ASP World Tour Rookie of the Year, and will look to consolidate in the remaining three events this season.
“Michel (Bourez) and I are embroiled in a little Rookie of the Year race but it’s all in good fun,” Bacalso said. “I had a shocker in France, got a 33rd, and this event is all about redemption. I’m pretty happy with how this year is going, but I’m definitely looking to finish strong in these last few events.”
Tiago Pires (PRT), 29, current No. 23 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, also brought fireworks to today’s Billabong Pro Mundaka, eliminating tour veteran Phillip MacDonald (AUS), 30, in a hard-fought Round 1 heat. After nearly splitting his head open on an opening ride, Pires would rally, securing an 8.33 for solid backhand barrel before nailing the coffin shut with a 6.33 on the buzzer.
“At the start of my heat, the lip came down on me and my board hit me in the face,” Pires said. “Fortunately there is no blood, but it’s a good lump. There are definitely good waves on the bank, but they are a little inconsistent making things very stressful. I was able to dip into that little barrel for the 8.33 and I still needed another score. I just did my best to be patient and it paid off.”
Finishing 3rd at the previous ASP Dream Tour event in France, Pires moved up 10 spots on the ASP World Tour ratings prior to today’s debut at the Billabong Pro Mundaka, and the powerful natural-footer will look to improve even further as the European leg continues.
“The European leg is super important to me,” Pires said. “I feel very comfortable at all of the spots and it’s very important that I do well here. I had a good result in France and I’m trying to keep the momentum going through the rest of the season.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 8am to assess conditions for a possible recommencement.
When competition resumes, up first will be ASP Dream Tour veteran Dean Morrison (AUS), 28, up against event wildcard Dean Bowen (AUS) in Heat 9 of Round 1.
BILLABONG PRO MUNDAKA ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jihad Khodr (BRA) 13.60 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 11.10
Heat 2: David Weare (ZAF) 13.50 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 7.17
Heat 3: Drew Courtney (AUS) 11.67 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.17
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.66 def. Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 13.17
Heat 5: Ben Dunn (AUS) 13.16 def. Marlon Lipke (DEU) 9.10
Heat 6: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 15.80 def. Hodei Collazo (EUK) 10.96
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.34 def. Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 10.00
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.84 def. Reubyn Ash (GBR) 11.50
REMMAINING BILLABONG PRO MUNDAKA ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 9: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs. Dean Bowen (AUS)
Heat 10: Mick Campbell (AUS) vs. Marcos San Segundo (EUK)
Heat 11: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 12: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 13: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 14: Dustin Barca (HAW) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 15: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Heat 16: Jay Thompson (AUS) vs. Greg Emslie (ZAF)