Despite a dropping swell, the world’s best surfers have contested the loser’s second round at the Billabong Pro Mundaka. The perfectly shaped bank dished up some tasty 1m tubes early, before the swell was gobbled up by the incoming high tide.
The big guns already through to round three were given a reprieve with more swell predicted, but the action came thick and fast for surfers fighting for ratings points and hoping to dodge an equal 33rd last place bullet.
Europe’s only world tour surfer Mikael Pikon (France) kept his hopes of rejoining the world’s top 45 surfers in 2007 alive with a strong win over Hawaiian hot-shot Fred Patacchia (Pat-Tar-Chia). The 27-year-old tour rookie clinched the round two victory with a perfect Mundaka tube ride in the final moments to outpoint Pattachia 16.20 to 13.83. Currently rated 40th in the world, Pikon must do well in the next three events to have any hope of requalifying.
Highflying Floridian Cory Lopez stamped his claim on the days best heat score by thrashing Hawaiian Roy Powers. The unpredictable Lopez could do no wrong, notching up three eight point rides in the 30-minute heat to disconnect Powers, leaving him requiring a combination of rides. Celebrating his 10th year on tour, the 29-year-old is out to put an end to the string of round four eliminations which have earmarked his 2006 campaign.
Australian young gun Shaun Cansdell’s roller coaster year took an upward turn with a round two win over diminutive Brazilian goofy footer Pedro Enrique. Selective surfing saw the 23-year-old post a two-wave total of 12.10 and progress to round three. A maiden world tour final in Fiji rocketed him into the world¹s top 10 in May, but Cansdell has been plagued by inconsistency in his rookie year, currently ranked 16th.
Fellow Australian Trent Munro put on a stellar display of surfing in the dropping swell, his polished backhand attack ruthless in the demolition of Brazilian Marcello Nunes. Ultra fast and critical top turns payed off the wirily natural footer, rewarded with a 7.33 and a 7.50 to easily defeat Nunes. On the cusp of being ousted from the tour in 2007 the Scotts Head local is confident he can sneak into the world’s top 28.
The Brazilian contingent of world tour surfers took a drubbing in the second round with Raoni Monteiro, Nunes and Henrique all casualties. Highest rated South American star Adriano de Souza stemmed the tide of losses by winning through to round three despite eliminating countryman Paulo Moura. De Souza missed the first round due to illness, but was in good form today, well suited to the small left-hander. His heat score of 14.50 too good for Moura who bowed out of the event with 13.00.
When competition resumes, Kelly Slater (USA) will be gunning for his eighth world title. The only surfers capable of stopping Slater in Spain are Taj Burrow (Aus), Andy Irons (Haw), Joel Parkinson (Aus) and Mick Fanning (Aus).
World Title Scenario
Kelly wins Mundaka: Kelly wins World Title.
Kelly gets 2nd in Mundaka: Taj, Andy, Mick must win to keep the title race open.
Kelly gets 3rd: Taj must get 5th, and Andy, Mick, Joel must place higher than Kelly.
The Billabong Pro Mundaka can be viewed LIVE on the Internet at: www.billabongpro.com and www.aspworldtour.com.
See the highlights here.