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Andy Irons dominates opening round at Rip Curl Cup

Andy Irons : photo Ellis/

Rip Curl Cup

ASP WCT Mens event # 11

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (Leg Two)

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)

2002 World Championship Tour (WCT)

Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

24 November - 7 December 2002

Irons Dominates Opening Round

Sunday, December 1; Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii:

Current ratings leader Andy
Irons (Haw) today moved closer to his maiden world title with a commanding
performance in the Rip Curl Cup. The US$250,000 World Championship
Tournament (WCT) marks the second leg of the 20th Anniversary Vans Triple
Crown of Surfing and will very likely host the crowning of the 2002 ASP
world champion. After being postponed for the past six days due to
unfavorable conditions, round one was completed in good surf.

Clean 6-8 ft (2-2.6m) waves were on offer at Sunset beach this morning. The
massive surf of recent days subsided, and while sets were at times
inconsistent, plenty of great barrels were found through the inside ´Bowl´
section. Round two almost got underway this afternoon, but it was ultimately
decided to wait until tomorrow morning, when another new swell is expected.

Irons, who paddled out for his first heat against Rip Curl Cup Trials winner
Pancho Sullivan (Haw) and Peterson Rosa (Brz), posted a near-perfect 9.75
score with a long tube, followed by a carving cutback. Together with his
earlier 7-point ride, he left both opponents requiring a combination of
rides and advanced directly into round three with the best single wave and
combined total of the day.

Nathan Webster : photo Ellis/

"I felt really shaky at the start of that heat," said Irons afterward. "I
saw Pancho get a really good wave, so it was pretty nerve-racking out there. "I was mainly trying to hold Pancho off the wave," said Irons of his 9.75
ride. "I thought it was going to close out, but I didn´t want him to get it.
As I was dropping in I saw the thing start to barrel, so I just went for it
and the backwash kept it open, so I was lucky.

"I´m trying not to pay attention to the ratings and just surf heat to heat,"
he added of the title pressure and his rivals. "I don´t want to listen to
all that´s going on. Hopefully my scores shook them up a bit, but those guys
are cold as ice, so they don´t really flinch on much."

Defending Rip Curl Cup winner Myles Padaca (Haw), a wildcard in this year´s
tournament, then defeated current ratings runner-up Luke Egan and fellow
Australian Michael Campbell. The Hawaiian showed his knowledge of the break,
finding a couple of tubes as he pushed the Aussies into the ´losers´
elimination round. After breaking his leg doing some tow-surfing earlier
this year, the win represents even more satisfaction for him.

Taj Burrow : photo Ellis/

"I´m feeling excellent at the moment being able to go out there and get
barreled in a heat," said Padaca. "It´s pretty special to be surfing here at
Sunset with just two other guys, as there´s normally 40-60 people out. My
leg´s 100 percent now and I´m really excited to be surfing the Triple Crown
again and represent Hawaii.

"I´m really good friends with Andy Irons and anything I can do to help him
win the world title.... being from Hawaii I´m all for a Hawaiian to win," he
added, of beating Egan. "I´ve nothing against Luke as he´s a great guy, but
I´d like to see Andy win the world title."

Neco Padaratz (Brz) emerged from a great Sunset tube toward the end of his
clash to defeat Rip Curl Cup Trials runner-up Bruce Irons (Haw) and current
#3 Taj Burrow (Aus). The Brazilian trailed Irons´ lead for most the match,
but his final 7.25 score pushed him through. Padaratz´s older brother Flavio
also won his match today, outscoring Kalani Robb (Haw) and Greg Emslie

Luke Hitchings : photo Ellis/

"Conditions are good, but the waves were splitting a lot from the ´Point´
and ´Bowl´ sections," explained Neco. "It´s hard to know which ones will
lineup. I couldn´t hear any scores, but when I made that barrel I felt

Current ratings #4 Michael Lowe (Aus), who is still mathematically in
contention for this year´s world title, lost the first heat of the day.
Fellow countryman Richie Lovett got the better of him and Marcelo Nunes
(Brz), adding to the drama of tomorrows´ round two, since if the three
Australian contenders were to lose then, Irons would automatically clinch
the crown.

Russell Winter, the UK´s sole representative on the WCT, surfed confidently
and powerfully to beat Americans Pat O´Connell (CA) and six-time world
champion Kelly Slater (FL) in their 30-minute bout. The ´British Bulldog´
carved his way to a convincing victory and his opponents will now have to
contest round two.

Shanne Dorian : photo Ellis/

"I had the inside position at the start and was able to catch the first good
one, which set me up for the rest of the heat," explained Winter. "I´ve been
surfing at Sunset for a few years now and really like it. I´m quite
comfortable out here and it suits my surfing. Even though I come from
England, I love waves like this.

"Whenever you surf against Kelly you have to surf your best," he added of
Slater. "Obviously he´s one of the biggest threats out there, but I just
stuck to my own game plan and it worked out."

Lee Winkler (Aus) gained some needed confidence with his win over fellow
countryman Nathan Webster and Cory Lopez (USA). The Australian made a
critical barrel ride for the days´ second best score of 9.5, and edged out
Webster, who also scored highly for his opening tube. With only two WCT´s
remaining, including the Rip Curl Cup, Winkler is currently on the cusp of
re-qualification and needs all the ratings points he can acquire.

Flavio Padaratz : photo Ellis/

"I need the points right now on the ratings, so it was a big confidence
booster for me to have a win out here at Sunset," said Winkler. "The waves
have been huge, and I don´t remember a season like this before, so it was
good to get a couple of waves finally. I knew that one wave was going to
barrel, so I just pulled in and gritted my teeth and closed my eyes. I could
feel it trying to push me out, then I felt some wind and opened my eyes and
it was all sunny again, as I´d made it."

Maz Quinn, New Zealand´s sole representative on the WCT, also gained some
momentum with his opening win over Fabio Gouveia (Brz) and reigning world
champion CJ Hobgood (USA). The ´Kiwi´ is currently rated #37 and requires a
couple of strong finishes to secure his elite position in 2003.

"I´ve been surfing as much as I could before the contest started, so I felt
pretty comfortable out there," said Quinn. "I was lucky to get a bomb at the
start, but then snapped one of my favorite boards on my last wave, which is
a bummer. I need a couple of results, so I´ve got nothing to lose out there.
I´m just going for it."

Mark Occhilupo : photo Ellis/

1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo then got the upper hand against fellow
Australian Dean Morrison and Brazil´s Paulo Moura in the day´s final heat.
Their match was rescheduled last Monday due to Morrison´s recent head injury
at Backdoor Pipeline, but the 21-year-old still surfed with 12 staples in
his head.

"It was a long wait for that heat, for sure," laughed Occhilupo afterward.
"Deano hurt himself at Pipeline, so he asked me if we could put the heat
back, and Paulo and I both agreed. It was big that day and he had just had
stitches in the day before, so if he had bumped it or anything, it would
have been heavy. There´s been so much swell over here, so it´ll be
interesting to see what happens tomorrow."

- Official Results -

Rip Curl Cup Round One
(1st -> Rnd 3; 2nd & 3rd ->
Rnd 2)

H1: Taylor Knox (USA) 11.0; Shea Lopez (USA) 7.5; Paul Canning (SAfr) 6.85

H2: Shane Powell (Aus) 16.25; Phil MacDonald (Aus) 14.6; Danny Wills (Aus)

H4: Kieren Perrow (Aus) 14.75; Darren O´Rafferty (Aus) 12.15; Beau Emerton
(Aus) 6.5

H5: Sunny Garcia (Haw) 13.0; Mick Fanning (Aus) 6.5; Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz)

H6: Jake Paterson (Aus) 13.75; Joel Parkinson (Aus) 12.5; Victor Ribas (Brz)

Results of heats run today (Sunday)

H7: Richard Lovett (Aus) 9.35; Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 8.75; Michael Lowe (Aus)

H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 16.75; Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 8.5; Peterson Rosa (Brz)

H9: Myles Padaca (Haw) 13.65; Luke Egan (Aus) 11.0; Michael Campbell (Aus)

H10: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 14.0; Bruce Irons (Haw) 10.0; Taj Burrow (Aus) 8.75

H11: Flavio Padaratz (Brz) 12.6; Kalani Robb (Haw) 10.5; Greg Emslie (SAfr)

H12: Lee Winkler (Aus) 13.0; Nathan Webster (Aus) 13.0; Cory Lopez (USA) 5.6

H13: Maz Quinn (NZ) 11.05; Fabio Gouveia (Brz) 9.7; CJ Hobgood (USA) 8.55

H14: Shane Dorian (Haw) 15.75; Luke Hitchings (Aus) 12.75; Damien Hobgood
(USA) 6.25

H15: Russell Winter (UK) 14.5; Pat O´Connell (USA) 12.75; Kelly Slater (USA)

H16: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 11.9; Renan Rocha (Brz) 11.25; Nathan Hedge (Aus)

H3: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 14.0; Dean Morrison (Aus) 10.9; Paulo Moura (Brz)

Opening Day & the beach blossoms : photo Tostee/

The Vans Triple Crown Series features the world´s top athletes competing in
three championship events in each of the following sports: Skateboarding,
Wakeboarding, Surfing, Snowboarding, BMX and Freestyle Motocross. The
Series is made possible through proud sponsors Vans, Xbox, Mountain Dew,
Ford Trucks, Right Guard Xtreme Sport, Fox Sports Net, Surfing Magazine and
NBC Sports.

Sunny Garcia leads after Leg 1.

Previous reports :-

# 1 : Rip Curl Cup Trials underway in top Sunset conditions

# 2 : Sullivan & Irons advance into Rip Curl Cup main event

# 3 : Massive swell postpones Rip Curl Cup after five heats

# 4 : Huge conditions postpone Rip Curl Cup/Sunset again

# 5 : Rip Curl Cup event again postponed next option Friday

# 6 : Rip Curl Cup postponed yet again as huge surf prevails

# 7 : Coming soon

# 8 : Coming soon

# 9 : Coming soon

Spectators Mike Parsons & Tom Carrol : photo Tostee/

Check the latest Hawaii Surf Reports and Forcasts

More Hawaiian & USA Surfing News available here

For daily updates, status and other information:

Rip Curl Cup Hotline: +1-808-638-5024

Press Tel: 638-5533; 8320; Fax: 638-5008

Jesse Faen

Media Director, ASP Int´l

ASP Int´l office (Aus): +617-5599-1550

On-site media trailer in Hawaii:

Jodi Young: +1-(808)-258-8533;

Mainland Media Inquiries:

Mike Kingsbury (MKM): +1-(714)-375-2188

Gary Dunne, Rip Curl Media on-site: +1(808)-554-7492;

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