Photo above: Luke Campbell (AUS) found a deep barrel to advance to Round 2 today.
The 6-Star O’Neill Highland Open got underway at Brims Ness – the most consistent point for swell on this north shore of Scotland – today. Clean three foot (one metre) waves and an offshore wind saw The Bowl at Brims produce a few decent barrels for the first heats of Round 1.
Blake Thornton (AUS) gave the standout performance of the day. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, he adapted quickly to the cold climate, posting an impressive 16.44 heat score (out of a possible 20).
“I have been coming here for two years now and I know how good the waves can get,” said Thornton. “I love slabby waves. We get a lot of them around Sydney so I am pretty comfortable out there at Brims. I just have to get used to the thick wetsuit.”
“I am stoked it worked out well,” he said. “I just hope I have not peaked too soon.”
Hank Gaskell (HAW), who surfed in Heat 4, posted the second highest heat total of the day with a solid 16.17 points (out of a possible 20), including a score of 8.50 out of a possible for 10 for finding his way out of a clean barrel.
“The waves were fun today, but I was a bit lucky to get the good ones,” Gaskell said.
Gaskell will meet top seeded surfers Tim Boal (FRA) and Eric Rebiere (FRA) in the next round.
Luke Campbell (AUS), a runner-up in last week’s ASP WQS 4-Star event in France, kept his good form going finishing first in Heat 6 to secure his spot in Round 2. Campbell, 23, who lives in Western Australia, found a solid 7.83 point ride in the 7°C water to eliminate former ASP European Pro Surf Tour champion Justin Mujica (PRT).
“I am glad I got through as there weren’t a lot of waves today,” Campbell said. “I have had a really good time in France making the final and I feel good so I am looking forward to keeping up the good work here as well.”
He will face ASP Top 45 surfer Jay Thompson (AUS), top WQS campaigner Pedro Henrique (BRA) and Jorge Spanner (BRA) when competition resumes.
Seven heats were completed today and favorites all found their way out of the tricky Round 1 test. Reubin Pearce (ZAF) and Jean Sebastien Estienne (GLP) both went over the 14.00 point mark to secure their spot among the best seeded surfers of the event in Round 2.
Brims Ness, where O’Neill Highland Open champions have been crowned the past couple of years, is the most consistent surf location in the Thurso area and is expected to deliver solid waves and barrels in the next few days. Next call will be tomorrow Friday, April 25, at 6.30 AM (GMT).