Swell: 2ft windy
Wind: Strong west winds
Schedule: Round One Underway
After a year in hiatus, Europe’s prime left hander was back to it’s barrelling best today as the worlds top 45 surfers slugged it out in round one of the Billabong Pro in Mundaka.
Australian Luke Stedman (Avalon) drew first blood in the 1.5m waves, posting a last second win over compatriot Tom Whitaker and Brazilian livewire Pedro Henrique. The lanky natural footer was in fine touch, notching up a 7.67 early in the 35-minute clash before sealing the win on his final ride with an 8.17. A wirily Whitaker almost snatched the heat with a perfect pit at the final stages but fell narrowly short, requiring a 9.00 but rewarded with an 8.83.
Californian Tim Reyes moved a step closer to cementing his position in the worlds top ten with a convincing win over Brazilian tour veteran Victor Ribas and South African rookie David Weare. A 6.00 and a 4.83 was all that the world number nine needed to seal victory, his combined total of 10.83 too good for Ribas on 6.90 and Wear on 6.83.
While Reyes is out of the world title race, the talented natural footer remains a serious threat to the top contenders as he strives to secure his first world tour win. His second year on tour and first time to Mundaka, Reyes is well aware how crucial this event will be to those striving for top spot and those looking to re-qualify for the 2007 tour.
With the river mouth break of Mundaka going into hibernation with the mid-day high water, officials placed the contest on hold and waited for the outgoing tide.
Seven times world champion Kelly Slater (Florida) is in poll position to grasp his eight world surfing silverware here at Mundaka, over 1000 points clear of closest rival Taj Burrow (Aus). A Mundaka triumph would see Slater crowned 2006 world champion in Spain, with only Burrow, Andy Irons (Kauai), Mick Fanning (Aus) and Joel Parkinson (Aus) in mathematical contention to halt his campaign.
Confidence is high for Parkinson after shooting into world title contention with an emphatic world tour event win in France two days ago. Joining Fanning, Burrow and Irons in the top five, one of them must win here and hope Slater bows out early in order to carry the world title on to the next event in Brazil.
Organizers will check conditions at first light tomorrow morning with the intention of running a few heats early before the tide fills in and spoils the party.
See the Round One highlights here.