Snickers Australian Open
ASP 5 star WQS Mens event
15 - 21 March 2004
Aberton/Slater survive intense battle Taj scores perfect 10
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, Maroubra Beach, Sydney (Saturday, 20th March, 2004): - - Surfing fans were treated to an absolute nail-biting heat between six-time ASP world surfing champion Kelly Slater (USA) and hot local surfer Koby Abberton when competition resumed in the Snickers Australian Open today at Sydney´s Maroubra Beach.
Thousands of spectators (estimated at 15 000) , turned out to see the biggest name in world surfing and the Floridian wasted no time in the 25 minute encounter, catching an early wave in the shifty one metre surf to jump into the lead.
But Maroubra´s favourite son quickly answered back, scoring the two highest waves to take command, with the parochial hometown crowd cheering Abberton every step of the way.
It was an intense battle between all four surfers, with Maui´s Ian Walsh and Japanese surfer Naohisa Ogawa fighting also fighting for progression, but ultimately the crowd favourites were just too good.
A relieved Slater after the heat said " Very few waves out there for our heat - it was a case of who caught the waves and luckily I got that one at the end - It´s good to see an event back in Sydney, the big crowds are great - like Brazil with all the Koby fans on the hill chanting his name!"
Tomorrow Slater and Abberton will meet again, along with France´s Eric Rebiere and 2003 World Qualifying Series winner Brazilian Neco Padaratz.
Another of pro surfing´s most explosive names, West Australian Taj Burrow, scored the event´s first perfect 10 point ride. The former world number two was never in danger in his heat against Cronulla´s Joel Bonning, Queensland´s Bede Durbidge and Hawaiian Mikala Jones.
Taj, who experienced his first ever major international surfing win in Sydney 5 years ago at the then Coke Classic at Manly, was obviously enjoying being back in Sydney and competing and after his heat said " I love the atmosphere in Sydney, plenty of people on the beach and it´s just great to have a major event back here - I was surprised to get 10 points on that wave - was not aware that it was that good, but I´ll take it!"
Following his awesome performance today, the natural-footer is now primed for another great showing on finals day tomorrow.
Current world-ranked number one Michael Lowe of Windang, NSW, also survived his opening match up. The powerful goofy-foot last week won the first event of the 2004 World Championship Tour on the Gold Coast and is renowned for his incredible performances at the big wave venues in Hawaii. But today, surfing the one metre waves at Maroubra, "Lowey" smashed his way through to the next round after overcoming some initial first-heat jitters.
South African Travis Logie won the heat with some super critical surfing and the pair now advance to meet Brazilian Marcelo Nunes and Frenchman Patrick Bevan.
Twenty one year-old Adam Robertson is the sole Victorian surfer remaining in the event after a lucky last-minute wave saw him progress behind WCT rated surfer Trent Munro (Scotts Head, NSW). Robertson was still riding when the final hooter sounded, and eventually was awarded an 8 from the judges.
The emerging Victorian is impressing all with his powerhouse style and goes into tomorrows finals day confident by stating after his heat " I´m just getting my rythmn together here, the waves are different to Victorian waves and I´ve spent a lot of time working out which boards work best for me here - luckily, I think I now have it worked out and I´m looking forward to tomorrows finals rounds -
Robertson´s next heat will be one of the toughest of his career, coming up against current world number three Bronte local Tom Whitaker, hyped American prodigy Dane Reynolds and Munro, when action recommences tomorrow at 8am.
With moves like Kirk Flintoff´s (Cronulla, NSW) amazing aerial 360 thrilling the crowd, the standard for final´s day tomorrow is certain to be awesome.
It was also another great day for Sunshine Coast´s Zane Harrison who opened his heat with an excellent 9 point ride and has advanced through to tomorrows finals rounds - Harrison has been on the injury list for 2 seasons when appearing on the verge of a World Championship qualification and the Snickers Open is his return to highest level surfing - A relieved Harrison later commented - " I´m pleased to get through to day - My hip is about 95% right, not certain when it will be 100% BUT I´m feeling a lot better now scoring well and advancing - I´ve missed the action and it´s great to be back!"
The SNICKERS® Australian Open can be viewed via: webcast , vision and audio casting, along with daily newsfeeds through production company H2. FOX Sports in association with channel 10 will include specific national and international TV specials.
Heat Draw & Results (caution slow link to xls)
# 1 : 5 Star WQS Snickers Australian Open set for Sydney
# 2 : Snickers Australian Open WQS kicks off at Maroubra
# 3 : Top Aussie youngsters dominate int´ls at Snickers Pro
# 4 : Pancho Sullivan excels in small waves at Snickers Open
# 5 : Internationals dominate Snickers Australian Open day 4
# 6 : Slater, Burrow, Hobgood enter Snickes Pro on Saturday
# 7 : Coming soon
For more information contact;
WQS Contests - Surfersvillage