SOMEWHERE, Porta Del Sol/Puerto Rico (Friday, November 5, 2010) - Following a two-day suspension of competition out of respect for former ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), 32, who tragically passed away on Tuesday, the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico recommenced today with Rounds 3 and 4.
Event No. 9 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico has endured a somber two days with surfers and staff grieving the loss of Irons, but with clean three-to-four foot (1.5 metre) waves on offer at the primary site in Porta Del Sol this morning, the world's best surfers unleashed a furious assault on the boundaries of high-performance surfing.
Dane Reynolds (USA), 25, current ASP World No. 6, cracked the ice this morning with a tit-for-tat progressive surfing battle with rookie Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, in Round 3. Despite Wilkinson executing an incredible backhand rodeo flip, it was Reynolds whose unabashed forehand assault on the rippable righthanders gave him the nod into Round 4.
"I just wanted to go out there and rip and have fun," Reynolds said. "I wasn't thinking so much about the heat or winning or anything. I just wanted to surf as hard as I could. I have this really fun board right now and it's so fast and responsive. I'm having a lot of fun."
Reynolds was far from finished as the young Californian would go onto exhibit the most vicious assault of the event thus far, with a barrage of fine-free maneuvers and unparalleled power surfing to net a near-perfect 18.57 out of a possible 20, including a 9.97 for one unbelievable forehand fin-free gaff.
"I think this is the perfect venue for a surf contest because you have the combination of both barrels and turn sections," Reynolds said. "You can get scored for barrels, you can get scored for turns or for both on the same wave. There're a lot of waves coming through and it's just so much fun."
Reynolds advances directly to the Quarterfinals of the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico.
Owen Wright (AUS), 20, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 7, put in a stellar performance this morning in Round 3 of competition, dusting fellow rookie Brett Simpson (USA0, 25, with an impressive 17.50 out of a possible 20.
"I'm just focusing on my surfing," Wright said. "I've been sick since Portugal and I'm just now getting on the mend. I haven't been able to surf and it's been frustrating. I've been taking it easy, but with everything that's happened, all I want to do is get in the water. It felt great to get in the water today and I'm looking for a strong result here."
Despite his incredible Round 3 performance, Wright suffered a broken board in Round 4 and will have to surf against Michel Bourez (PYF), 24, in Round 5.
The 2010 ASP World Title Race remains red-hot with both Kelly Slater (USA), 38, and Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, posting emphatic Round 3 victories today.
Slater, former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, survived a hard-fought battle against local wildcard Dylan Graves (PRI), 24, to advance through to Round 4.
"That's the heaviest heat I've ever had in terms of local support," Slater said. "I mean, I have a lot of support down here, but Dylan (Graves) has the entire island backing him. It was really tough, and he was surfing really well. It wasn't an easy heat at all, but he went out and made Puerto Rico prou"d."
For Slater to clinch his historic 10th ASP Crown at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico, the following scenarios must occur:
- If Slater finishes Equal 3rd or better, he clinches the 2010 ASP World Title.
- If Slater finishes Equal 5th or Equal 9th, Smith must win the event to send the ASP World Title Race to Hawaii.
- Essentially, if Smith fails to finish higher than Equal 5th, Slater claims the 2010 ASP World Title.
"I've always had it in my head that Jordy (Smith) is going to win this contest so I need at least a 3 rd ," Slater said. "He's been the most consistent guy all year and he's in really good form. I'm not thinking about Jordy losing at all. I'm just focused on what I have to do."
Slater would go on to best Adriano de Souza (BRA), 23, and Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, in Round 4 and advance directly to the Quarterfinals.
Smith, current ASP World No. 2, halted any ASP World Title celebrations today with a comprehensive assault on the offshore righthanders. The powerful South African blended impressive tube rides, massive rail turns and fin-free maneuvers to dispatch Gabe Kling (USA), 30, in Round 3.
"The wind actually switched right at the start of our heat and it really opened up the waves," Smith said. "I knew there was the potential for barrels out there and I was fortunate to sneak into a few. No pressure. I'm just going out and doing what I love."
Despite the monumental task ahead, Smith remains positive about his approach to the remainder of the event, citing his enjoyment for the sport as a major motivation in his continued performance.
"I'm just trying to prove that I can surf pretty well," Smith said. "I think we all learned a lesson from Andy (Irons): never have a down moment, always smile and enjoy what you do. I'm having fun and surfing the way I want to. I'm not really thinking about what Kelly (Slater) is thinking, but I'm here to make him work for it."
Smith scored a sensational late charge against Owen Wright (AUS), 20, and Chris Davidson (AUS), 34, in Round 4 to advance directly to the Quarterfinals.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, current ASP World No. 4, opened up the day's proceedings with a hard-fought win over ASP Dream Tour rookie Dusty Payne (HAW), 21.
"It was a really strange vibe out there," Burrow said. "There weren't a lot of waves coming through and we weren't talking too much. It's a weird vibe around here today. I don't feel like I have that competitive fire."
A close companion of fallen icon Andy Irons, Burrow expressed what several surfers were currently feeling at the loss of their friend and hero.
"I don't know how I feel," Burrow said. "I think I'm still in shock. The whole thing is so unbelievable. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if we were going to continue. I guess the show must go on and I think that's what Andy (Irons) would have wanted, but I don't know. It's just such an awful thing. It's terrible and everyone is feeling this way."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, up against Taylor Knox (USA), 39, in the opening heat of Round 5.
Surfline, official forecasters of the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico, are calling for ENE trade windswell and N/NNE background swell mix to ease slightly over the weekend.
Highlights from the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico will be webcast LIVE via http://live.ripcurl.com
The Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico will be televised LIVE in Australia on FUEL TV. For more information, check out www.foxsports.com.au/fueltv
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.16 def. Dusty Payne (USA) 9.00
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.73
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.04 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.70
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.70 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.90
Heat 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.06 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.84
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.50 def. Dylan Graves (PRI) 13.07
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.83 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 11.43
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) Advances Over Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) N/S
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.50 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.27
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.37 def. Dan Ross (AUS) 11.80
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.33 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.54
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.60 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 12.10
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Dane Reynolds (USA) 18.57, Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.23, Taylor Knox (USA) 13.70
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.20, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.42, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.60
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.80, Owen Wright (AUS) 14.26, Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.16
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.70, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.53, Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.30
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH PUERTO RICO ROUND 5 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)