Photo: Mick Fanning hasn’t won a bell since 2001, he’ll try to change that tomorrow.
The completion of six Rip Curl Pro Round 4 heats at the mobile venue of Winkipop has set the stage for Quarterfinals 1-3. The heats are stacked.
All but two heats of Round 4 were run in five foot surf (two metre) at Winkipop – a right-hand reef break three hundred meters north of Bells Beach.
Defending Rip Curl Pro Champion Taj Burrow (AUS) is among the surfers who advanced before windy, rainy weather saw competition called off for the day. Burrow beat fellow Australian Luke Stedman courtesy of an 8.00 score earned late in their duel.
“It was pretty tough, the wind got pretty strong, but the waves were good,” Burrow said. “I felt like I should have done a bit better than a 6.5 an 8.0, I wanted to put up some big scores but I just didn’t feel comfortable. I haven’t been in really good rhythm with the waves so far, but I’m doing what it takes to make it through the heats so hopefully I keep progressing.”
Burrow, who will now face California’s Dane Reynolds (USA) in Quarterfinal 3, is still steadfast on his quest to ring back-to-back bells.
“That’s the plan,” Burrow said. “The quarters are going to start filling up with some pretty tough match-ups but that’s what you expect when you make it that far. I haven’t had a good heat yet, hopefully I’m saving the best for the end. “
Former ASP Rookie of the Year honorees – American Bobby Martinez (2006) and Frenchman Jeremy Flores (2007) – went head to head in Heat 3. Martinez reveled in his first surf at the back-up venue this season.“The waves are good, the winds are good, best day yet I think,” Martinez said. “My first time surfing here was in this heat. I surfed Winkipop last year but I try to stay away from this wave because it is so much different than Bells and I never thought we would be moving here. I’m glad I made it considering it was my first time surfing out here this trip.”
Martinez caught three waves to Flores’ nine, but found enough points on his selective rides to advance 16.33 to 13.10 over the Frenchman. Flores finished equal 3rd in the first event of the year while Martinez was forced out at equal 17th. “Sure, Jeremy having a good event at the Gold Coast motivated me, but I could have been in the 33rd Round and been motivated no matter who I got because I haven’t had a good year yet,” Martinez said. “I just want to try my best and get a good start. It don’t matter who I got or what round I’m in, I don’t think about the next person because we are all here for the same reason.”
Martinez will want to maintain that strategy as he has drawn Reigning World Champion Mick Fanning in the next round. “It’s going to be a good one,” Fanning said of his match-up with Martinez. “Bobby has been surfing great and he looking really good on his feet so it’s going to be a fun one. I’m pumped.”
Fanning eliminated the last Brazilian in the draw, Adriano de Souza, in Round 4 today. The weather that ultimately hated competition rolled in their heat.
“It turned a little bit weird in my heat but I got a couple at the start and put the pressure on and held on to it,” Fanning said.
Today’s other Round 4 Results include Bede Durbidge (AUS) beating Dayyan Neve (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS) knocking Neco Padaratz (BRA) out of competition and Dane Reynolds (USA) eliminating Roy Powers (HAW).
There are still two heats of Round 4 competition remaining. Heat 7 will pit 8X ASP World Champion Kelly Slater against fellow Floridian Damien Hobgood and 3X ASP World Champion Andy Irons against Kai Otton (AUS).
Swell forecasts indicate that there is a strong possibility that the final 10 heats of Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach competition could run tomorrow. An official call will be made at 7:30am.
Watch it LIVE on www.aspworldtour.com.