Jarred Sullivan : photo Surfing Australia
Maitland Toyota Open
ASP 4 Star WQS Mens Event
ASP 5 Star WQS Womens Event
Merewether Newcastle, NSW
12 - 18 March 2007
BIG THURSDAY AT MEREWETHER FOR DAY FIVE OF THE MAITLAND TOYOTA OPEN
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 March, 2007 : - - Dawn at a picture perfect Merewether beach this morning revealed a 6ft (2m) south swell pounding into Merewether point with corduroy lines stacked to the horizon. The conditions in the morning provided surfers with some of the best waves ever experienced at a Newcastle Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) event.
Judges determined that the massive paddling effort required by competitors in the sixth round of the Maitland Toyota Open justified extending the heats to 25 minutes. Rogue close out sets up to 10 feet (3m), fanned by northwest winds, gouged the sand on Merewether beach and exposed the rocks that had been covered up by months of lazy north easterly winds and swells.
Today’s swell, generated by a strong front that pushed into the lower Tasman Sea on Tuesday afternoon, offered some excellent stand up barrels for the round of 96 that got underway at 7.30am. The swell peaked at around 10am. Local Travis Lynch again showed his progression through a total of six heats owes little to luck and plenty to good judgment and great wave selection.
Another local to progress was Lake Munmorah’s Michael Spencer. Spencer, a 20-year-old natural foot, said that riding a new board in such conditions provided some pretty tough going. “There were some pretty big ones coming through, but I am feeling good in these sort of waves,” Spencer said, Spencer’s best result to date in a WQS event was a ninth at Newquay in England last year.
He says this year will be the first time he has tackled the WQS tour “full on.” “I’m surfing the WQS tour this year and after the Aussie leg I am going to South Africa, so I’m really looking forward to it,” he said Immediately after Newcastle, Spencer will surf at the 4 star WQS at Soldiers Beach on the Central Coast.
Wildcard and Merewether local Matt Hoy, a former ASP World Tour (formerly the WCT) surfer, was eliminated from the competition in the third last heat of the round. Hoy said his return to competitive surfing will be short-lived. “I’d had enough in 2001 and I’ve definitely had enough now. “I don’t enjoy getting judged at all any more,” the 35-year old said after handing back the coloured singlet to officials.
Hoy, who only caught three waves and racked up a measly 9 points, said he just couldn’t find the waves. “I had a plan to get the big ones but they just stopped coming,” he said. He was beaten by Adam Melling from Lennox Head and Spain’s Aritz Aranburu. A surfer definitely committed to being judged and wanting to compete at the highest level is Narrabeen’s Nathan Hedge.
‘Hoggy’, who rose to 7th position on the ASP World Tour in 2004, found himself eliminated from the elite tour at the end of last year for the first time since he joined its ranks in 2001. Hedge, who made it to the final at Newcastle just a few years ago, said he loves coming to the event here and that there was no better place to launch his ambition to get back on to the elite tour.
“I am fully focused on getting back to where I think I belong,” said the fit-looking, chiseled 28-year-old. Hedge says he will surf all the big WQS events in 2007 “full bore and full throttle.” His campaign to achieve that ambition started here this morning with a powerful display of carving turns that saw him easily account for his opponents, racking up a heat score of 15.77.
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Jarrad Sullivan (Byron Bay, NSW) also put up a solid effort and was awarded the second perfect individual wave score of the event (10), following in yesterday’s footsteps of Mitchell Coleborn. Coleborn, the ASP Australasian junior ratings leader, was bundled out of the competition today by Maroubra’s Blake Thornton, who scraped past the junior whiz by less than a point.
Other Australians to progress to tomorrow’s round of 48 include Darren O’Rafferty ( Port Macquarie, NSW), Jock Barnes (Byron Bay, NSW), Adam Robertson (Portland, VIC), Matt Jones (Yamba, NSW), Joe Haddon (Forster, NSW), Leigh Sedley (Maroochydore, QLD),
Some of the internationals to progress include Masatoshi Ohno and countryman Teppei Tajima (JPN), Brett Simpson (USA) Johnathan Gonzalez (Canary Islands), Maz Quinn (NZ), Dusty Payne (HAW)and Yuri Sodre (BRA), Marlon Lipke (GER), Gony Zubizireta (Spain) and Tim Boal (FRA).
Tomorrow’s seventh round will see the top seeds in the water. Number one seed and three-time champion Mick Fanning will surf in the eighth heat of the morning, where he will come up against current U/18 world champion Julian Wilson from Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.
Other big names to paddle out at Merewether tomorrow include defending champion Neco Padaratz (BRA), Dean Morrison (Gold Coast, QLD), wildcard wonderkid Dane Reynolds(USA), and ASP World Tour rookie, Ben Dunn (Old Bar, NSW).
In the Midori Pro, Stephanie Gilmore (Tweed Heads, NSW) was a shock elimination in the opening heat of the round of 24. It was won by Melanie Redman-Carr (Dunsborough, WA) with Leilani Gryde (HAW) also progressing.
Other surfers to move to tomorrow’s fifth round include Serena Brooke (Tweed Heads, NSW) and the Central Coast’s Amee Donohoe, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and Lyndsay Noyes (Cronulla, NSW).
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