Drug Aware Pro Margaret River
presented by ONeill
ASP 6 Star Prime WQS Mens Event
ASP 6 Star Prime WQS Womens Event
Surfers Point, Margaret River
26 March - 1 April 2007
Battle of the elements at Day One of Drug Aware Pro Margaret River
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 March, 2007 : - - The worlds biggest World Qualifying Series surf tournament, the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River presented by ONeill, has kicked off at Surfers Point in Margaret River Monday, March 26 with the Mens opening round heats already underway in cross-shore 3-to-5ft (1-to-1.5m) surf that is predicted to build significantly in the coming 24 hours.
The mornings action was highlighted by an impressive event debut from Dane Reynolds (USA/Ventura Beach). Reynolds comes into the event with a big reputation as being one of the worlds top free surfers (non-competition) and is now concentrating on doing well on the World Qualifying Series with aim of making it onto the Fosters ASP World Tour in 2008.
He certainly showed enough talent today, easily defeating Anthony Walsh (Lennox Head, NSW) in second place. Both surfers progressed through the four-man heat format that applies for the opening days of the contest. Reynolds heat tally, calculated on the sum total of his top two scoring rides, was 12.73 out of a possible 20 the third highest heat score of the day.
While the morning conditions were good, with light cross-shore winds, the surf and weather took a considerable battering around midday, when a strong south-westerly wind hit Surfers Point. The rugged onshore winds made conditions extremely tough for the round one competitors, with uneven and messy waves hitting the reef, which saw surfers in a battle against the elements.
Kyle Garson (USA) was one surfer who managed the conditions well, scoring the days highest wave score an excellent 8.83 out of a possible 10, easily advancing through in heat 14 of the day.
After his win, Arson commented on the ride saying: That was just luck out there for me. The waves and winds are all over the place today and when you take a wave you really have no idea whether the wave stands up and offers scoring potential. That wave did and it was lucky I was in the right spot at the right time. I thought it was a good ride, but had no idea it was scored up in the excellent range.
While todays conditions forced the event to be called off early, the outlook is very favourable for the week ahead. Solid swells are expected on the back of todays strong winds, along with far more favourable wind directions. A number of Australians performed well and won their opening round heats today, including James Wood (Lennox Head), Clint Kimmins (Gold Coast), Ryan Campbell (Sunshine Coast) and Mark Matthews (Maroubra).
Local West Australian surfers showed that no matter what the conditions, they will be a strong force at this event. Yadin Nichol (Margaret River) and Luke Campbell (Trigg Point, Perth) both progressed through to round two Nicol with a win and Campbell in 2nd place. Both competitors will be looking forward to the bigger and cleaner waves in the days ahead.
More than 15,000 spectators will witness the action at Surfers Point this week. The event will be later televised to almost a billion people in 48 different countries.
Competitors vying for prime rating points and prize money totalling AUD$197,000 (US$155,000), include such talents as World No. 2 Melanie Redman-Carr and Claire Bevilacqua (7th) from WA, taking on former World Champion Sofia Mulanovich from Peru (5th), and fellow Australians Jessi Miley-Dyer (4th from Bronte, NSW), Rebecca Woods (6th from Copacabana, NSW) Samantha Cornish (12th from Byron Bay, NSW) and 19-year-old Stephanie Gilmore (currently ranked 2nd on the WQS, from Tweed Heads, NSW).
In addition to local favourite and last years contest finalist, Jake Paterson, the Mens field features around half of the Top 48 surfers from the Fosters ASP World Tour. Among them are the USAs Damien Hobgood (7th) and his brother CJ (16th), Australias Mick Campbell (Port Macquarie, NSW), Tom Whitaker (8th from Sydney, NSW), and crowd favourite Brazils Neco Padaratz (who finished 7th in the WQS in 2006). ONeill surfers include the USAs Cory Lopez (12th) and Roy Powers (34th), plus Jarrad Howse (40th) from Manly, NSW.
Stand-out Wildcard entrants include current ASP World Junior Champion, 18-year-old Jordy Smith from South Africa (ranked 26th on the WQS) in the Mens, and the youngest-ever competitor in the events 23-year history, 14-year-old Felicity Palmateer (Hillarys, WA) in the Womens.
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Legendary Occhilupo Returns
A capacity crowd is expected to turn out to witness defending champion, the legendary Mark Occhilupo (26th from the Gold Coast, QLD) take to the surf. Incredibly, at age 40, Occy continues to impress and arrives in Margaret River well poised to serve it up to the younger competitors who are literally half his age.
He completed a fairytale finish at last years contest, beating local favourite Jake Paterson to claim his second victory at Margaret River after winning the inaugural event 22 years ago (in 1985). The win couldn't have been more nail-biting or controversial.
Paterson looked to have the Final won with the highest-scoring ride - an 8.83, which he scored midway through the Final, before backing it up shortly after with a strong 7.5. Occhilupo made his charge late in the Final when he scored an excellent 8.4 ride to move from fourth to second and issue a challenge to Paterson.
Then, with only two minutes remaining, Occhilupo paddled out for a wave alongside Paterson. With only one surfer allowed to take the wave, the two collided and the judges deemed the collision to be Patersons fault. He was penalised for the indiscretion, losing half his points for his second scoring ride and slipping from first to third position, allowing Occhilupo to claim the win.
Recounting the win, Occhilupo said: Id never been involved in that sort of finish before. It was an amazing situation to be caught in. In surfing, youre friends up until the final few minutes and then it's anything goes, and thats exactly what happened for me at Margies last year. Prior to the 2006 event, Occhilupo had announced the contest would be his last competitive appearance at Margaret River, but the historic win forced a change of mind.
I really do love this event and Im stoked to be returning again, he said. Its a big, open-faced wave and it suits my surfing style. The whole place is fantastic beautiful scenery and great food and wine. Im bringing my wife and kids with me this year too, which makes it even more exciting for me.
Having begun his professional campaign as a 15-year-old way back in 1983, Occhilupo boasts one of the most impressive careers in ASP history, including an incredible comeback in the late 90s to claim a world title at the age of 33.
The action kicks off at Surfers Point from 7.30am daily. Entry is free from Monday to Thursday (March 26 to 19) and from Friday to Sunday (March 30 to April 1) is only $8 per person or $15 for families (two adults, two children under 12). Children six and under are admitted free. Ticket includes free bus transfers to and from Surfers Point. Parking is free.
For further information on the 2007 Drug Aware Pro Margaret River presented by ONeill, and to watch the event live online, go to drugawarepro.com.
Major sponsors of the event include Healthway / Drug Aware, Tourism Western Australia, EventsCorp and ONeill. Support sponsors include Department of Sport & Recreation, Chill by Brownes, Tooheys Extra Dry, Odyssey 2020, Coca-Cola, Leeuwin Estate, Nova 93.7, The Sunday Times, Margarets Beach Resort, MR Law, Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Tracks Magazine, Surftech, srosurf.com, Surfersvillage, Surfing WA and ASP Australasia.
Live webcast @ www.drugawarepro.com
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