Sullivan Leads Favorites in Perfect Rip Curl Pro Barrels in France
Top seeds were greeted with perfect four foot barrels and off-shore winds when Round 2 resumed today, Les Bourdaines delivering some of the best conditions of the summer for Day 4 of the Rip Curl Pro pres. by Sprite. The world’s best qualifiers came up with several top performances all day long and the level got one step further as fourty-eight men only remain in contention for the coveted crown.
Jarrad Sullivan (AUS), 24, flew the Australian flag leading the contingent with the result of the day posting an impressive 18.87 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) in the opening battle of Day 4 to advance ahead of Aritz Aranburu (EUK).
"It was really as good as I thought it would be and I am stoked to have my heat early," Sullivan said. "I had a slow start and I was just hoping for the bomb to come to me. I got lucky and I made that barrel."
Sullivan, who was supposed to surf yesterday before the event was called off, was very satisfied with the call.
"We were close to paddling out yesterday but when you see that kind of conditions, I am stoked I surfed this morning," Sullivan said. "I hope we can get similar waves when I paddle back out tomorrow, and it seems like the forecast is pretty good."
The high tide conditions kept firing classic French South West coast tubes and lauching ramps giving Round 2 competitors a great opportunity to push the level to its best. From progressive surfers Brett Simpson (USA) and Kirk Flintoff (AUS) delivering airs and vertical maneuvers to best tube rider of the day Shaun Gossmann (AUS), crowds and competitors enjoyed a perfect morning.
Shaun Cansdell (AUS), former ASP World Tour member and Rip Curl Pro defending champion, was much expected for his start in the 2008 edition and lost no time to make his intentions clear coming up with an excellent 17.33 point heat result (out of a possible 20). Cansdell, who had to face the outgoing tide changing conditions, caught four waves only during the 25-minute decider finishing with a 9.50 point ride.
"I am stoked I got through that heat," Cansdell said. "Compared to this morning it was a whole different story but the outside sand bank is good as well and I just waited for the few better waves."
Cansdell, who spent a couple of years among the ASP Top 45, is chasing a requalification for the Dreamtour and will be a serious contender for a second consecutive crown this year.
The European contingent was not left behind on this classic surfing day. Marlon Lipke (DEU) and Tim Boal (FRA), both rated No. 14 on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) ratings, advanced today with good performances.
Lipke, who placed equal 5th in the Rip Curl Boardmasters earlier this month, unleashed in Heat 3 defeating ASP World Tour surfer Ben Dunn (AUS) and besting fellow European and ASP Top 45 rookie Tiago Pires (PRT).
"I am stoked to be able to surf these conditions," Lipke said. "I got a good start in the heat and I was just ready to go for the better waves. Ben (Dunn) and Tiago (Pires) are already on the ASP World Tour and I had nothing to lose so I just used every option to make this one."
Lipke, who used smart tactics to trap Dunn and push him to comit an interference on an excellent wave, showed great determination to finish ahead of heat favorites in a tricky heat.
"I was not going to let anything go and I paddled out to win and give my best," Lipke said. "Everyone is hungry for points and you have to stay focused and hold fermly to your goal. I am stoked I made it with Tiago (Pires). The guys on the World Tour are an example and things have been changing fast on the European stage."
Lipke, who stands as a potential ASP Top 45 qualifier for 2009, has had a good summer thus far with a 9th in the US Open of Surfing, a 5th in Japan and a 5th in Newquay, will be looking to get back on track after his Round 1 elimination in Lacanau.
Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Miky Picon (FRA) and reigning ASP European Junior champion Romain Cloitre (REU) were among those advancing today as well, flying the European flag in front of a cheering crowd.
Nathan Hedge (AUS), former ASP Top 45 contender and Rip Curl team rider, pleased his sponsors securing one of the ten best heat scores of the event so far after winning Heat 15 ahead of former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW).
"I was pretty pumped and ready to go big during that heat," Hedge said. "I have been here for five days already and I was really looking forward to getting things underway. I am focused badly on requalifying and I am going to put everything into it."
Hedge, who came to the Rip Curl Pro rated No. 35, is chasing a strong result to keep any Dreamtour requalification hopes alive.
"It is still a long way to go before we know who will make it through to the world tour," Hedge said. "I am just trying to surf as good as I can and I thank everyone who believes in me."
Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro pres. by Sprite will resule at 7.30 AM tomorrow and twenty heats are scheduled. The ASP WQS 6-Star Prime is getting closer to its business end and Man-on-man battles will start from Round 5.