Adam Robertson (Victoria, AUS) became the third O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch Champion today, coming victorious after another 23-heat marathon day. Robertson, who surfed through five heats to eventually clinch the prestigious Highlander sword trophy, defeated Adam Melling (Gold Coast, AUS) in glassy three foot (one meter) waves at the world class venue of Thurso East.
Robertson was crowned at the famous righthander where it all started two years ago, and dominated the consistent three to five foot (1 to 1.5 meter) waves to win his maiden ASP WQS 6-Star Prime event. Posting a solid 14.50 point heat score to best Melling’s 11.50 tally (both out of possible 20), Robertson raised the Highlander’s sword in front of a cheering Australian contingent.
“It is the best day of my life," Robertson said. “I could not wait to raise that sword, it is like a dream coming true for me... I cannot belive it. Compared to Brims Ness’ Bowl, it was more comfortable and I had more time and space to surf my best today."
Robertson, 26, who has had a slow start this year, secures precious 3 000 points counting for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings.
“I have had a tough start this year," Robertson said. “I feel like confidence came heat after heat . Such a big relief to take this one home, so stoked."
Melling, who defeated top European WQS campaigner Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) and 2000 ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) on today, was stopped in the final of the Highland Open, still getting the best result of his career as well.
“I’ve been doing well here in the past couple of years and I really love the waves," Melling said. “Pretty stoked with this result, it is a big step on the ratings and this one gives me a lot of confidence to push it further this year. I was stoked to surf against Adam and he just got the better set waves and deserves to take the win."
Hugo Savalli (REU), 25, was the best European of the O’Neill Highland Open reaching semifinal No. 2 where he was defeated by Melling. Savalli, who faced an on-fire Melling, missed his final’s ticket by 0.64 points in the last five seconds of the heat but leaves Scotland with his best result ever.
“I did all I could in that heat but Adam (Melling) got this last-second ride," Savalli said. “This is the best result of my career so I could not expect anything better in such a big event."
Savalli, who reached Round 4 in Australia and made the quarterfinals in France, will be a serious contender among the top WQS surfers from now on.
“I have been training hard and differently since the beginning of the year and it seems to work well," Savalli said. “Everyone has been supporting me here and I am just stoked to get this result and fly the European flag."
David Weare (ZAF) placed equal 3rd in the Highland Open today, posting a second excellent result back to back after his recent win in Durban 6-Star Prime event. Weare, a former ASP Top 45 surfer, clinched 5250 ratings’ points in the last two events and already sits as a favorite for a spot in next year’s Dream Tour.
“It was a really close heat and one wave made the difference again," Weare said. “Priorities play a major part in man-on-man heats and Adam (Robertson) got the ultimate better wave to make it. It has been a really successful trip to Scotland for me and it is a very good result. I will be back for sure."
Sunny Garcia (HAW), 38, secured another excellent result today with his equal 5th place. Garcia, 2000 ASP World Champion, got through five rounds before losing to Adam Melling (AUS) in Quarterfinal No. 4.
“I knew it was a good wave and I am happy with this result," Garcia said. “Fifth is good but I am still wanted to win. The waves earlier were suiting my surfing more but the drop of the swell made too difficult."
Garcia, who is sitting in WQS Top 20 at the moment, secured precious points under his belt towards his ASP World Tour requalification campaign.
“I feel like it is makable for me right now," Garcia said. “I know it is not going to be easy but I am going to train during this month break before the Maldives and I will more prepared for the smaller waves."
The 2008 O’Neill Highland Open by Swatch went from classic six foot (two meter) Brims Ness to clean glassy Thurso East, taking the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) world’s best qualifiers to Scotland’s best cold water North shore waves.