Nathan Hedge : photo Poullenot/ASP Europe
O'Neill Highland Open
by Swatch 2007
ASP Prime 6 Star Mens WQS
Thurso, North Coast of Scotland
24 April - 1 May 2007
Aussie Nathan Hedge wins the O´neill Highland Open
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 April, 2007 : - - Perfect shaped 4 ft waves, amazingly clear skies again, mystic location and the best WQS surfers ready to eneter the arena. This was the setting for this final day of the ONeill Highland Open by Swatch, and everything seemed together to make this event another success.
With seven heats remaining, the priority was to use the best tide timing to offer our champions some great scoring potential. And this is what happened. Jay Thompson (Aus), whose round 5 heat was run this morning, just killed it straight away when he disappeared under a green section, going so deep before raising his fist in the air to clain what was going to be the first perfect 10 pointer of the 6 Star Prime WQS event.
I was ready to make this heat, the conditions were beautiful and I just took off on this one, pulled in the tube and kept going up to the exit. Its agreat feeling, Im stoked to be in the quarterfinals, said Jay Bottle Thompson.
Nathan Hog Hedge (Aus) was the first qualifier of the quarterfinals, the aussie former Fosters Mens World Tour surfer for five years, knowing a result here could take closer towards a possible requalification. Surfing backside on the famous lefthander nicknamed The Bowl, Hedge linked some huge fins-out re-entries on the most critical sections to score some very good 8+ pts on his first wave.
It was just so clean out there! Stoked to surf these waves, glassy. Didnt get any barrels but some good turns, its good to feel comfortable there, said the Hog after he brought his white rashguard to the beachmarshall. Outstanding perfomer of day 4, Shea Lopez (Usa) wasnt ready for such an attack and couldnt catch up with the aussie, leaving Scotland with 1950 pts and $2600.
Competition resumed at 5.30 pm, when the tide had eventually decided to get back to its best. The Bowl was waiting for us, and when as the hooter sounded in the air, everything got on fire. Mister only perfect 10 of the event Jay Thompson (Aus) and Ben Bourgeois (Usa) just made their 30-minute decider a barrel exchange, Bourgeois opening the battle with an amazing 9.17 pointer.
Thompson waited a bit before giving his answer but went on for excellent rides making this event the best level seen since the beginning of the ONeill Highland Open by Swatch. Pulling in perfect green chambers, both competitors who are looking forward to a qualification in the elites top 45, found the sickest barrels of the competiton, giving judges a hard time.
Just so good. I couldnt belive it would get this good actually but then we were out there and we had a great heat, said Bourgeois before his semifinal clash. After eliminating yesterdays highscorer Asher Nolan, Kirk Flintoff (Aus) had his semifinal match up against mate Nathan Hedge (Aus). In same nerve testing conditions, the two former Fosters Mens World Tour members were ready to battle for a spot in the ultimate heat of the 6 Star Prime WQS ONeill Highland Open by Swatch.
Lineup : photo Poullenot/ASP Europe
Hog just flew over the battle, destroying litteraly every of the best potential waves coming in, throwing huge sprays of water in the air to easily get his much wanted final opportunity. Howsey and Bourgeois were the last soldiers to fight for a chance at the crown.
Eliminating ASP junior world champion Jordy Smith in the quarters, Howsey repeated his performance getting covered in style, facing the glassy crystal walls. Despite Bourgeoiss determination, the aussie controlled the duel keeping the pressure up playing with priority rules to secure best possible wave choice.
The ultimate heat of the event started in freezing off-shore winds but in beautiful surf conditions, with the same clear skies. Sitting at the line up, the two men had already secured a very important result. Clearly targetting the qualification for the WCT, Jarrad was the first one to pull into a green room, but couldnt get out while Hedge was only going for a throw away score of 2 points.
Trying not to miss any wave, Nathan the Hog pitt dogged into another pocket but really started serious business when he linked three on-the-rail cutbacks, finishing over the shallow slab of the Bowl, Brims Nesss star wave. Needing a combination of scores to catch up with potential winner, Howse used the same strategy as in his previous heats waiting for the best waves possible.
Jarrad Howse : photo Poullenot/ASP Europe
And once again, the cold northern ocean played with the nerves of our two best surfers of the event, and with thirty-five minutes of ultimate battle in the arena, everything could change from one result to another.
Being trapped in another fast closing wave, Jarrad Howse remained in difficulty and Hedge managed to use priority to take off on a perfect wall and push as hard as he could on each of his turns to et a 6.83 score. Needing an 8+ pointer to get back to first but the Hog looked unstoppable, ripping any opportunity offered to him to secure this 6 Star Prime WQS ONeill Highland Open by Swatch grand champion crown.
So stoked to clinch this one. Its my first time here and I just loved it. Its a great feeling to win a Prime event and precious points for a possible return into the WCT, confessed our winner. Its been a great finish to this second edition and we thank all sponsors and organisers for putting up such an event in Scotland. The world tour continues, and Nathan Hedge leaves with 3000 pts and $15000 prizemoney. Thank you.
Nathan Hedge (Aus) 13.50 pts beat Jarrad Howse (Aus) 10.93 pts
Jarrad Howse (Aus) 15.83 pts beat Ben Bourgeois (Usa) 14.66 pts
Nathan Hedge (Aus) 17.40 pts beat Kirk Flintoff (Aus) 12.03 pts
Ben Bourgeois (Usa) 17.50 pts beat Jay Thompson (Aus) 17.04 pts
Jarrad Howse (Aus) 11.27 pts beat Jordy Smith (Zaf) 9.34 pts
Nathan Hedge (Aus) 15.16 pts beat Shea Lopez (Usa) 13.30 pts
Kirk Flintoff (Aus) 14.84 pts beat Asher Nolan (Usa) 9.67 pts
- Action from Saturday -
Check out the Live Coverage commentated by Sam Lamiroy & Dave Mailman
# 1 : ONeill Highland Open: biggest surf event in UK readies
# 2 : ONeill Highland Open 6 star WQS called off for Day One
# 3 : Brims Ness fires for O'Neill Highland Pro Prime kick off
# 4 : O´Neill Highland day # 2 - big names go down at Brims
# 5 : Brims Ness clean, 4ft for O'Neill Highland Open day #4
WQS Contest - Surfersvillage