The O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon steamed ahead yesterday at Sebastian Inlet Florida with competitors still sparking despite the deteriorating conditions. Swell continued to dissipate for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) four-star event with the round of 96 beginning after a three-hour break in the morning to allow the tide readjust.
US surfer Wesley de Souza defied all odds in the afternoon by racking up the event high heat total of a 15.84 out of a possible 20 for a series of rapid-fire manouvres on both his forehand and backhand. “I just tried to start catching waves right off the bat,” de Souza said. “It’s really hard to catch any good ones out there, but I was lucky that I caught two pretty quick and was able to advance through.”
Suffering from multiple injuries in 2006, de Souza will be looking for a good result at the O’Neill SI Pro to kick start his 2007 ASP WQS campaign.
“Last year was a tough year for me,” de Souza said. “I did my MCL in and was out for five months and then injured my ribs in Hawaii and had to go home early, so my first year was pretty rough. I’m hoping I didn’t peak too early in this event now as I want a good result here. I’m going to be making a big push this season.”
Australian Dave Reardon-Smith was another who tore through the difficult afternoon conditions securing a solid 14.50 out of a possible 20. The powerful natural-footer smashed the sloppy 1′-3′ surf en route to his round four heat win.
“It’s slowly deteriorated over the course of the last three days,” Reardon-Smith said. “It’s seems that the afternoon low tide creates the best conditions though. A few small waves will come through and you’ve just got to do what you can on them.” Currently unsponsored, Reardon-Smith has proven to be one of the form surfers of the event thus far and is poised for a solid finish here at Sebastian Inlet.
“Throughout the first six months of this year, I’m going to be working hard to crack inside 192 on the WQS,” Reardon-Smith said. “That way, I’ll be able to get into all the five and six-star events and build up a really good seed for next season.”
Californian Brandon Guilmette shocked fellow competitors and beachgoers alike by picking off the event high single wave score of a 9.33 out of a possible 10 for multiple forehand slashes on a reeling righthander. “It was just God’s grace that put me in that spot at that moment,” Guilmette said. “Anyone of those guys out there could have got that score had the wave come to them, so I’m just really fortunate that it came my way.”
Surfline has forecast unfavorable conditions for Monday and Tuesday, but event organizers will still meet to assess conditions in hopes of running as many heats as possible.
For the full run-down of results and the forthcoming schedule are available at: www.oneillsipro.com.