Australian surfers Michael Campbell (NSW) and Josh Kerr (QLD) have confirmed their spots on next year's Foster's ASP Men's World Tour by finishing first and second respectively at this year's 20th Anniversary Rip Curl Pro Super Series in Seignosse, France.
Campbell was celebrating his second consecutive World Qualifying Series (WQS) contest win after also claiming first place finish at the 2006 Lacanau Pro last week. The double result has shot him straight into first place on the ASP Men's WQS Ratings, 274 ratings points ahead of 18-year-old French rider Jeremy Flores.
The Rip Curl Pro Super Series is the highest rating WQS contest of the season and this year's 20th anniversary helped draw some of the biggest names in surfing. Foster's ASP World Tour stars such as Mick Fanning (AUS), Nathan Hedge (AUS) and Adriano de Souza (BRA) mixed with former greats like Tom Curren (USA), Rob Machado (USA) and Tom Carroll (AUS) who in-turn mixed with future phenoms such as Flores, Ben Dunn (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS). In the end though it all came down to two surfers and a 35-minute man-on-man final.
Campbell started the heat in the ideal way, posting a 9.17 score on his first decent ride. He added a quick 4.83 score and quickly took control of the heat. Kerr fought hard to strike back, but failed to find the scores he had continually tallied all week. When Campbell added an 8.17 late in the heat Kerr was put in a 'combination situation', which meant he had to total two high scoring rides to fight back at the goofy-footer. The result was all but over.
"It's pretty amazing - I can't really believe it's all happening this quick," said Campbell. "I don't think it will sink in until I go home and reflect by myself, but I'm just really happy right now and stoked for Josh and the other Aussie guys that qualified for the WCT at this event. It's been an amazing day of surfing for me and a great day for Australian surfing."
"Sometimes when you're on a roll, you're on a roll and I guess luck has probably played a big part in my wins here and in Lacanau," continued Campbell, when asked about his relationship with the conditions this week. "It feels good to be in tune with the waves though right now and it's awesome to get another win."
"I'm going to enjoy the rest of the year and not take it too seriously. I'm going to go home now and have some fun, then put my work hat back on next month, keep training and finish the year strongly."
The second place finish was Kerr's best result of the season and has cemented his position in fourth on the ASP WQS ratings. The 22-year-old surfed an amazing final day, taking down Andre Silva (BRA) in the quarter-finals and then former ISA World Junior champion Ben Dunn (AUS) in semi-final 1. When it came to the final encounter against Campbell though, Kerr was under-gunned but happily settled for second.
"I didn't really know what I was doing in the final, but I wasn't really thinking about it - I was more celebrating the fact that I've qualified for the WCT now," joked Kerr after the final. "This is such a prestigious event, plus it's the highest rated 'QS on the tour, so I've had my sights set on it all year and I'm just stoked to do so well in it."
"I have been working so hard and trying to stay focused all year," continued the 22-year-old. "It's kind of hard sometimes with the travelling and parties all the time on the 'QS, but I've had a great year - I've got married and now I've qualified for the 'CT, so it can't get much better. It's really good, but I've got a massive year next year!"
"Mick's confidence is through the roof right now and every turn he makes he puts in 150 per cent," answered Kerr, when quizzed on Campbell's hot form. "I knew Mick was going to take plenty of energy into the final, which he did, but unfortunately it all fell apart for me. I'm stoked with second though!"
The 2005 Rip Curl Pro Super Series was dominated by Brazilian surfers last year, but this year saw an all-out Australian assault on the title. Australian surfers filled six of the eight quarter-final spots and then all four of the semi-final slots.
Up-and-coming Aussie Ben Dunn won the first heat of the morning, eliminating local favourite Jeremy Flores (FRA) in strong form at 9.30am. However, Dunn's luck ran out in semi-final 1, losing to Kerr and earning joint 3rd place.
"I'm so stoked about this result and about beating Jeremy in the quarters," said Dunn. "I'm right on the edge of qualifying so to score this big result is awesome."
Semi-final 2 saw Campbell scrape past Dayyan Neve (AUS) to advance through to the final. Neve has had a great week and can take great confidence into the next WQS event in Portugal this week.
Rip Curl Pro Super Series Seignosse WQS Results:
- 1. Michael Campbell (AUS)
- 2. Josh Kerr (AUS)
- =3. Ben Dunn (AUS)
- =3. Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Men's WQS Ratings After Rip Curl Pro Seignosse:
- 1. Michael Campbell (AUS) - 10869
- 2. Jeremy Flores (FRA) - 10595
- 3. Ricky Basnett (ZAF) - 9910
- 4. Josh Kerr (AUS) - 9320
- 5. Dayyan Neve (AUS) - 9314