SEIGNOSSE, France (Thursday, August 23rd, 2007) – Despite another day of rain and unfavourable winds, the swell continued to hit the designated sandbank at Rip Curl Pro Super Series contest site all day today, allowing contest officials to complete Round 3 in contestable 3-4ft (1-1.5m) waves.
The Rip Curl Pro started with 144 competitors on Monday, but only 24 remain now that the first three rounds have been completed. The event has a unique format to other ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events and is the season’s most important contest, offering competitors the highest total of ratings points and the year’s biggest prize purse.
With the stormy conditions testing both physical and mental strength, experience was always expected to play a major part in the results, with several experienced Foster’s ASP World Tour surfers in action throughout the day.
Adrian Buchan (AUS) was the first of this year’s Dream Tour competitors to paddle out today, taming the tricky conditions on his way to a heat-winning 14.77-point heat score. The Australian will face former ASP World Champion CJ Hobgood (USA) and Brazilian Hizunome Bettero in Heat 1 of Round 4 tomorrow.
“I’ve had a good year so far on the World Tour and I’m enjoying myself around the events,” said Buchan. “I love coming to France and it was important for me to compete this European WQS leg, to stay in the rhythm and get fit before going to the Boost Mobile Pro World Tour event in Trestles.”
Current WQS Ratings Leader Jordy Smith (ZAF) has already confirmed his spot on the 2008 Foster’s ASP World Tour and looked super relaxed today when he competed and won his Round 3 heat today.
After posting the contest’s highest single wave score on his first wave yesterday (a 9.77 out of 10), the 18-year-old backed up well today, advancing through his match-up ahead of Hizunome Bettero (BRA), David Weare (ZAF) and Kieren Perrow (AUS).
“It’s really hard to catch the good waves, but when you get them there’s definitely the potential to get some points,” explained Smith. “I still haven’t looked at any points or ratings and I don’t really want to just yet. All I want is to make the Foster’s ASP World Tour next year and it seems like it’s done, so I’m stoked about that. I’ll just keep having fun around the WQS events and keep focus.”
After a slow start to the 2007 WQS season, French local Romain Laulhé is hoping for a contest win at the Rip Curl Pro Super Series this week and moved one step closer by advancing through Heat 7 of the day.
Matched up against Foster’s ASP World Tour surfers Luke Munro (AUS) and Gabe Kling (USA) and famed big wave surfer Bruno Santos (BRA), Laulhé found form late in the heat to snatch second place in the final minutes. With the top two placegetters advancing through the heat, he held on to second behind Munro, seeing Kling and Santos eliminated from the event.
“I feel at home here as my family is originally from the Landes and I wanted to get a good result for my sponsor Rip Curl at this event,” said Laulhé. “I started surfing the smaller waves and it took me some time to catch up with the others, but as none of them had a clear lead I knew I could keep going for one of the top two spots. My second last wave put me back to third, then I had to run back along on the beach and paddle out again, before getting the 5.90 score I needed to get second.”
Current WQS #2 Tiago Pires (PRT) recorded the event’s highest two-wave heat total in Round 2 and backed that up today by sneaking through his Heat 9 match-up against TJ Barron (HAW), Jarrad Howse (AUS) and Ben Bourgeois (USA). Like Smith, both Pires and Bourgeois have already qualified for the 2008 World Tour, but are focused on beating the South African teenager to the 2007 WQS Title.
Pires will compete Heat 5 of Round 4 against the Luke Munro (AUS) and Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA). The result is already his best at the Rip Curl Pro Super Series.
“The waves are cleaner than this morning, but I am angry because I fell on the bomb wave of the heat,” said Pires. “I’ve never really done anything at this event in the past, so I’m stoked to get a spot in Round 4 tomorrow.”
The WQS Tour moves to Ericeira, Portugal for the next 6 star event after the Rip Curl Pro for the Buondi Billabong Pro – a contest Pires won in 2005 and again in 2006.
“I’m feeling good and ready to get on with this event before going home to Portugal and trying for a hat-trick at the next event!”
The Rip Curl Pro Super Series will be back on from 8 Am tomorrow Friday, and can be viewed via live broadcast transmission online at www.ripcurl.com/ripcurlpro