The Rip Curl Boardmasters witnessed some of the best waves of the year today at Fistral Beach, Round 2 of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 5-Star coming to an end in fantastic five foot (1.5 meter) clean waves. Twenty-four heats were completed and all top seeded surfers started their 2008 Boardmasters campaign in what will be remembered as one of the greatest days of surfing in Europe.
Drew Courtney (AUS), 29, Seed No. 3 in the event and rated No. 8 on the ASP WQS ratings coming to Newquay, was a standout this morning posting an excellent 9.00 point ride (out of possible 10) en route to winning Heat 5 with a solid 16.50 point heat result (out of a possible 20).
"I had a good wave obviously but it did not look it was going to be", Courtney said. "I managed to get a couple of turns and the wave was clean enough. The waves were a bit fat and it is hard to figure out what way the wave is going to break before taking off."
Courtney, who will be attending all upcoming events, is focused on an ASP World Tour qualification for 2009 and will have to string some big results together to secure his spot.
"Things have been good this year but we are a long way from the end of the season", Courtney said. "Plenty of events still to come and everyone can win at this stage."
From former ASP Top 45 member and event winner David Weare (ZAF) to Brazil's outstanding performer Robson Santos (BRA), including Europe's Marlon Lipke (DEU) and Patrick Beven's (FRA) solid results, top seeded competitors took control of Round 2.
Robson Santos (BRA), 21, who left the ASP Pro Junior tour at the end of 2007, was in excellent form for his start in the event and came up with an impressive 17.10 point heat result (out of a possible 20) including a 9.27 point ride reward from the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) judges.
"I am stoked to start with a high score", Santos said. "I know there is a lot of support from Brazil watching the Live streaming and I hope things can remain as good."
Santos, who secured his heat win in the first minutes of Heat 9, bested experienced WQS surfer Shaun Gossmann (AUS) and local top surfer Oli Adams (GBR).
"I had a strong start in the heat and everything went my way", Santos said. "It is a great confidence boost for tomorrow and I hope waves remain as good."
Heavy showers and changing winds made it tough for crowds to settle down at the beach but lots of people still stood at the water's edge, enjoying the stunning show on offer. The outgoing tide brought hollower waves and current European leader Marlon Lipke (DEU) was able to display solid surfing to advance through to Round 3 and meet David Weare (ZAF), Txaber Trojaola (EUK) and Danilo Costa (BRA) when competition resumes.
"We are lucky to get such waves, probably some of the best in a while", Lipke said. "I am trying to let go all pressure and just enjoy my time on tour. It seems like it can work good so far."
Lipke, who secured back-to-back equal 5th places in California and Japan's ASP WQS 6-Star events, was rated No. 17 before the Rip Curl Boardmasters and is on the rise towards a possible end-of-year Top 15 finish that would give him a ticket for the ASP World Tour.
"I have been training very hard this year, especially mentally", Lipke said. "The more relaxed I am the more results I get so I am just going with the flow and hope to do good. I am having lots of fun competing at the moment and it is my priority."
Lipke, only German on "the Grind" and now leading the European contingent on the international stage, will be much awaited at all events in Europe this summer.
"It is good to get results but I will not expect anything special", Lipke said. "Everytime you expect to do good at a location you like it goes wrong and vice-versa so it is all about taking things heat by heat."
One of the major upsets came with former ASP Top 45 touring surfer Shaun Cansdell's (AUS) elimination by Abdel El Harim (MAR). The 24-four heat marathon-day saw Brett Simpson (USA), Adam Robertson (AUS), Bobby Hansen (NZL), Chris Davidson (AUS) and Nathan Hedge (AUS) advance through to Round 3 as well.
Nathan Hedge (AUS), a former runner-up here and ASP World Tour campaigner looking to requalify this year, managed to walk through with a victory in Heat 18 ahead of Diego Rosa (BRA), Hodei Collazo (EUK) and Nick White (USA).
"It was fun out there with lots of waves, some flat and others really rippable", Hedge said. "It is good to see such good waves here and start the European league with this. The year I qualified (for the ASP World Tour) I finished runner-up here, it's a Rip Curl event as well so it has all the right signage for me."
Hedge, who was rated No. 38 before coming to Newquay, will need to secure several big results in Europe to keep any Dream Tour qualification hopes alive.
"I have had a quik look at ratings but we are so far away from the end of the year I am not worrying about it", Hedge said. "I am trying to have fun with my surfing and get the European leg off with a good start."
The 48 remaining men will meet at 7.30 AM (GMT+1) tomorrow morning and there is a good chance for consistent conditions to remain througout the night.
Watch the LIVE webcast on Surf Europe and Mpora.com.