Big action graced the 16 heats of round five yesterday as the O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon narrowed the field down to the final 32 surfers. The ASP WQS 4-star event enjoyed an increase in swell with the unfortunate addition of heavy northeast winds. The shifty conditions that resulted would go on to be the setting for several upsets throughout the day.
Ben Bourgeois (Wrightsville Beach, NC) took the honors yesterday by grabbing the event high single wave score of a 9.33 out of a possible 10 for a series of inverted turns on his backhand. The powerful natural-footer has come close to qualifying for the prestigious Foster’s ASP World Tour for several seasons and will look once again for a good result at the 2007 ASP WQS season opener, the O’Neill SI Pro.
“It’s a long year,” Bourgeois said. “I’m stoked to make it through, but I’m just taking it one heat at a time and one event at a time. Of course qualifying (for the Foster’s ASP World Tour) is my goal, but I can’t get too far ahead of myself.”
Eric Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL), defending ASP North America Pro Junior champion, caused a sensational upset today defeating Foster’s ASP World Tour stalwart Cory Lopez (Indian Rocks Beach, FL) in round five. “It’s super difficult out there and really easy to lose,” Geiselman said. “If you’re out there and the waves don’t come to you then that’s it. You’ve just got to get really lucky.”
While the 18-year old still has two more seasons left in his ASP Pro Junior tenure, Geiselman’s performance thus far has several wondering if he will make a legitimate push on the ASP WQS in 2007. “I’m just trying to shake off the jetlag from being in Australia for the ASP World Junior Championships,” Geiselman said. “I’ll be slowly easing into some WQS events this season and definitely back on the ASP Pro Junior series. I’m super stoked to get through this heat and hopefully I can get through a few more.”
In addition to Cory Lopez being eliminated, several local favorites suffered early losses including Kyle Garson (Melbourne Beach, FL), Aaron Cormican (New Smyrna Beach, FL), Wesley de Souza (Deerfield Beach, FL), Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL) and several others.
Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), who finished 22nd on last season’s ASP WQS ratings, took down local standout Eric Taylor (Vero Beach, FL). After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Foster’s ASP World Tour last season, Gudauskas will look for a solid result here to kickstart his ’07 campaign.
“The first event of the season could go either way – you could either just want to get it out of the way or it could really spark the season for you,” Gudauskas said. “I’m happy I get through, but it’s still a ways to go before I get a result I can put in the bag.”
Gabe Kling (St. Augustine, FL), who will begin his rookie season on the prestigious Foster’s ASP World Tour in February, put his world tour talent on display in the morning’s action as he stitched up his competitors to advance to the round of 32. Although already qualified for the elite Dream Tour, Kling is still competing on the ASP WQS to ensure that he remains a fixture at the sport’s highest level of competition.
“I’m going to start out doing all the WQS events,” Kling said. “I’m going to Brazil next week and the idea is to start out well on the WQS just to give myself a backup. Hopefully halfway through the year on the ASP World Tour, I will have done well enough that I won’t need to worry about the WQS anymore.”
Today is scheduled to be the last day of competition and will run from the round of 32 through the finals. Heat 1 of the round of 32 will begin promptly at 8:00 am.
Live scoring will be available at www.aspnorthamerica.org.
For more information, log onto www.oneillsipro.com.