Eighteen heats of ASP World Tour action were run and won at the Globe Pro Fiji today, but Heat 4 of Round 3 featuring Taj Burrow (AUS) and Tiago Pires (PRT) was the heat of the day. Burrow beat Pires 17.00 to 15.01 after sealing the deal with a perfect 10 point ride, the second one posted in the Globe Pro Fiji so far.
“It was good fun –I haven’t had a 10 in awhile." Burrow said. “It’s hard to get one these days so I might have thrown a little claim there in the end but it felt really good. I locked into the barrel, then I thought there wasn’t a chance for a bit but there was a little opening that shot me through so it felt awesome and I’m stoked."
Pires earned a 9.67 of his own in an exchange in which he got the better of Burrow, but the Portugese surfer needed a better back-up score to take down his Australian opponent.
“Tiago doesn’t roll over, he’s intense and he puts up a good fight in these type of waves," Burrow said. “He got a 9.67 on the first exchange. I only got a 7.00 and I thought mine was really good. After that, I was looking for one with a bit more wall with a long barrel to it and I managed to sneak the 10.00 under his priority because it was one of those real west ones. Still, in the end he only needed a 7.00 and I was dropping a 7.00 so there was to room to move, but I am pleased with the result."
Tim Reyes (USA) surfed a strong heat, his second of the day, to defeat Roy Powers (HAW) 16.67 to. 13.16 and will now meet Burrow in Round 4. He and Powers also shared a great exchange.
“I didn’t know whether to go on the first or the second wave of that set and it wasn’t really a gamble because each one of us were going to get a good wave," Reyes said. “I sat inside and pig-dogged it the whole way through and then I turn around and see my friend getting barreled and I went, ‘No!’ But he just got that one good one and I got two so that is what it takes."
Reyes is rated 14th at present and is enjoying some success on the ASP World Tour after being plagued by injury half way through 2006 and sitting out most of last year.
“Fiji is a good event, it’s our best event on tour this year," Reyes said. “I haven’t won a Round 1 heat since two years ago, so surfing through the second and third rounds to advance today feels so good. Credit to Roy, I’m sure he’s going to hunt me down in the next event for sure."
World No. 3 Bede Durbidge negotiated his way through Round 2 yesterday afternoon at Restaurants and Round 3 at Cloudbreak today. He eliminated South Africa’s Royden Bryson.
“Surfing Restaurants yesterday and then surfing at Cloudbreak today was totally different and I needed a totally different game plan," Durbidge said. “It was a bit tricky but I found a couple waves to make it through and I’m stoked. It’s only early and I want to keep surfing heats and keep having fun, I’m not ready to go home yet."
Durbidge sits just behind Kelly Slater (USA) and Joel Parkinson (AUS) on the ASP ratings and is looking to better his 2007 World No. 5 result. He suffered a hiccup when he was eliminated in Round 3 in Tahiti last week.
“It’s event No. 4 now and I’m sitting in third so it would be good to get a good result here because I didn’t do too good in Tahiti," Durbidge said. “Kelly has the hugest lead on all of us and every heat is so important so I just want to give it my best shot. Everyone is a threat but Kelly is just Kelly – he has eight world titles and he’s way out in front already. He is in form and definitely the surfer to beat."
Former ASP World Tour and Fiji Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) retired last year, but he used his two decades worth of tour experience and wildcard into the Globe Pro Fiji to eliminate World No. 9 Kai Otton (AUS) in a close Round 2 heat this morning. Occhilupo found and emerged from two barrel rides late in the heat to take the lead and move to Round 3.
“We had our first surf out at Cloudbreak a couple of days ago and Kai was the best surfer out there by far, so I knew I had my work cut out for me," Occhilupo said. “Unfortunately, he had a bit of a shocker. We’ll see how it goes from here, but right now I am just really happy with that win. I won here back in 1999 so to have a heat win today, kind of brought those memories back. It feels so good just to be here."
Occhilupo is the only wildcard who advanced to Round 3 which makes him the lowest seeded surfer still in the event. It also means he will meet current World No. 1 Kelly Slater in Heat 8 of the third round.
“It’s fun, it really is," Occhilupo said. “When I was on tour I used to hope for easy heats, but coming here this time I knew I was going to get the hardest heats which is good because you are ready for it. I’m so freshly retired that I still have big expectations but really I’m just here to have fun."
Adriano de Souza surfed one of the higher scoring heats in Round 2 to advance over his friend and fellow Brazilian Jihad Kohdr. Currently sitting No. 6 on the ASP Ratings after a strong start to the year, de Souza is producing the goods he was predicted to after joining the ASP World Tour in 2005.
“I was really lucky to get two really good waves but the bad thing was to beat Jihad when he needed a result, it’s not something you want to do to a fellow countryman. But for my dream to come true of finishing in the top 10 I had to make that heat so I’m really happy and the same time sad for Jihad that he lost."
Defending Champion Damien Hobgood (USA) earned a bye when Luke Munro (AUS) pulled out of the event with a torn meniscus. The walkthrough is a much-appreciated one for Hobgood who is recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him from competing in the last ASP World Tour event in Tahiti. Hobgood finished second in his three-man Round 1 heat with Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Daniel Ross (AUS) yesterday.
“I think the man-on-man heats will help me out," Hobgood said. “I definitely don’t paddle as fast or get in the right spot as quick so I think man-on-man will be a little easier. My shoulder feels fine, I just can’t paddle as well, but once I’m up I’m good."
Damien Hobgood is the only two time winner of the event, taking top honors in 2004 and 2006, but he doesn’t feel like his previous accolades in Fiji means he is a shoe-in for a Final berth in 2008.
“I think everybody knows that anybody can win any event at any time and it doesn’t really matter what you did last year," Hobgood said.