Matt Wilkinson: brand new star

The world’s best surfers battled shifting four-to-six foot (2 metre) rights and lefts at Supertubos as the Rip Curl Pro Portugal commenced competition with the opening nine heats of Round 1.

Event No. 8 of 10 on the 2010 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Portugal got underway this afternoon in front of capacity crowds numbering over 40,000 on the beach and the hundreds of thousands online.

Dusty Payne (HAW), 21, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 27, punctuated the day’s action, posting the highest heat total of the event, a 16.57 out of a possible 20, in the final heat of the day.

“It’s definitely not a walk in the park out there,” Payne said. “It’s hard work out there. I got both of my good scores on my backhand, I think it was easier to jam in two turns on my backhand. Stoked to get through though. I’m loving Portugal. The people are really nice and I hope it cleans up tomorrow.”

Tom Whitaker (AUS), 31, posted the highest single-wave score of the day, a 9.50 out of a possible 10, for two monstrous backhand bashes on a lumpy lefthander. The score, combined with an earlier 5.17, was enough to relegate former nine-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, Kelly Slater (USA), 38, and Bruno Santos (BRA), 27, to Round 2 of competition.

“Any kind of lip you could see you had to hit it,” Whitaker said. “That one had a pretty good line on it and I was lucky that it pushed me out in front at the end. Any time you draw Kelly (Slater), you have to put up big numbers and he’s capable of getting 7s or 8s at any moment in any conditions.”

Currently serving as the replacement surfer for an injured Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, Whitaker’s motivation may differ from those hunting the ASP World Title, but the stylish natural-footer remains hungry for results amongst the world’s elite.

“I want to win an event before I hang up my competitive career,” Whitaker said. “I feel like my surfing is still at this level and I’m looking forward to a few more opportunities here. I have to give a shout out to Joel Parkinson, who I heard had his first surf the other day. I hope he rebounds quickly and I look forward to sharing some waves with him in Hawaii.”

Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, reigning ASP World Champion and defending Rip Curl Pro Portugal Champion, survived today’s trying conditions, favoring his backhand to advance directly through to Round 3.

“It’s a big washing machine,” Fanning said. “I don’t think it matters what you ride out there, you just have to hang on. The Portuguese people turn out in the numbers and they’re really cool. They’re just stoked on surfing and that’s what we’re excited about.”

Following a win at the last event in France, Fanning is currently ranked No. 3 on the ASP World Title Race rankings, well within striking distance of the leader position in the hunt for the 2010 crown.

“Kelly Slater has been on such a roll,” Fanning said. “I pretty much just need to win events and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not concerned with what he’s doing at the moment. I’m focusing on putting wins on my scorecard.”

Jeremy Flores (FRA), 22, current ASP World No. 20, lead the Round 1 European charge today at Supertubos, threading a challenging barrel in the dying moments of the heat to edge out Dane Reynolds (USA), 25, and Dean Morrison (AUS), 29.

“It’s very difficult out there this morning,” Flores said. “It’s similar to Round 1 in France last week. It’s big and unorganized and hard to line up. I was able to find a tricky little barrel there at the end so I’m stoked. It’s hard though.”

Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 27, scored a major upset today, relegating Portuguese superstar Tiago Pires (PRT), 30, and compatriot Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, to Round 2 with some inspired backhand surfing.

“It was a super tough heat,” Wilkinson said. “Having Tiago in a heat over here was always going to be tough. There are tens of thousands of people cheering for him as we’re running down to the water and I just felt a little bit obscure. I love the crowd here though. They’re a super passionate crew and they want to see their local boy do well.”

Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 9.60, Luke Munro (AUS) 7.43, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 4.23
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.10, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.00, Dean Morrison (AUS) 5.50
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.17, Travis Logie (ZAF) 4.33, Brett Simpson (USA) 3.73
Heat 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 14.94, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.07, Adam Melling (AUS) 6.70
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.67, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 12.10, Daniel Ross (AUS) 8.73
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.67, Kelly Slater (USA)13.10, Bruno Santos (BRA) 3.03
Heat 7: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.66, Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.00, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.30
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.40, Roy Powers (HAW) 6.14, Chris Davidson (AUS) 5.26
Heat 9: Dusty Payne (HAW) 16.57C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.20, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.57

Heat 10: Damien Hobgood (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), Luke Stedman (AUS)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF), Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 12: Andy Irons (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)

Sol Pereira-Ryan: a bright future ahead

Four elite Queensland junior surfers today provided a glimpse into the future of Australian surfing after being crowned state champions at the 2010 Rush Surf State Junior Surfing Titles!

2010 Rush Surf State Junior Surfing Champions:

U/18 Boys: Sol Pereira-Ryan (Snapper Rocks, Qld)
U/16 Boys: Kai Hing (Wurtulla, Qld)
U/18 Girls: Amiya Doyle (Coolangatta, Qld)
U/16 Girls: Naomi McCarthy (Currumbin, Qld)

In a building one-mere swell, the right-hand pointbreak waves at Alexandra Headland’s The Bluff (Sunshine Coast, Qld) provided an ideal platform for the series’ concluding showdown.

Relishing in the conditions, Sol Pereira-Ryan (Snapper Rocks, Qld) looked right at home on his forehand, with the progressive natural-footer (left foot forward stance) locking up his maiden state-crown in empathic style – backing up his win in the first event of the series with another convincing victory today.

With a combined two-wave heat total of 16.97 (out of a possible 20) including a telling 8.97 ride (out of a possible 10) Pereira-Ryan defeated Hayden Welch (Currumbin, Qld – 13.17), Josh Sherwell (Alexandra Headland, Qld – 13.16) and Nick Edgerton (Wurtulla, Qld – 10.24) who finished second to fourth respectively.

Pereira-Ryan said that winning a state title was always a goal of his, but to finally achieve the feat was a dream come true.

“So many good surfers have won Queensland state titles, so to have my name alongside some of the past series champions is a surreal feeling,” said Pereira-Ryan.

“With the Australian (Junior Surfing) Titles just over a month away, this is a great way to prepare for taking on the other state’s best juniors,” he said.

Kai Hing (Wurtulla, Qld) proved too strong for his rivals in the final of the U/16 Boys division posting an imposing combined two-wave heat total of 15.50 (out of a possible 20) to outscore Hayden Cervi (Sunrise Beach, Qld – 11.90), Harry Bryant (Sunshine Beach, Qld – 8.27) and Luke Hynd (Burleigh Heads, Qld – 5.66) who finished second to fourth respectively.

Backing up her victory at last month’s Gold Coast series opener, Amiya Doyle (Coolangatta, Qld) capped of her remarkable campaign by winning the U/18 Girls overall title with a second place finish today behind Mooloolaba’s Keely Andrew.

Posting a combined two-wave heat total of 14.90 (out of a possible 20) in the final, Andrew just edged out Doyle for the win who finished on 14.67 points, with Bridget McCulloch (Alexandra Headland, Qld - 14.16) and Sophie Callister (Noosaville, Qld – 12.84) finishing third and fourth respectively.

Meanwhile, Naomi McCarthy (Currumbin, Qld) again out-pointed her opponents in U/16 Girls division claiming consecutive event wins to convincingly claim the overall series title in her respective division.

The Queensland Junior Surfing Team will now prepare to do battle with the other sates when the Australian Junior Surfing Titles kick-off in November at Victoria’s Phillip Island.

Queensland Junior Surfing Teams:

U/18 Boys:
1. Sol Pereira-Ryan (Snapper Rocks, Qld) – State Champion
2. Hayden Welch (Currumbin, Qld)
3. Josh Sherwell (Alexandra Headland, Qld) – Equal Third
3. Hamish Whillans (Burleigh Heads, Qld) – Equal Third

U/16 Boys:
1. Kai Hing (Wurtulla, Qld) – State Champion
2. Hayden Cervi (Sunrise Beach, Qld)
3. Harry Bryant (Sunshine Beach, Qld)
4. Luke Hynd (Burleigh Heads, Qld)

U/18 Girls:
1. Amiya Doyle (Coolangatta, Qld)
2. Keely Andrew (Mooloolaba, Qld)
3. Bridget McCulloch (Alexandra Headland, Qld)
4. Brodie Doyle (Coolangatta, Qld)

U/16 Girls:
1. Naomi McCarthy (Currumbin, Qld)
2. Isabella Nichols (Coolum Beach, Qld)

Carissa Moore: she loves Portugal

Carissa Moore (HAW), 18, 2010 ASP Women’s World Tour rookie, has claimed her second career victory today, taking out the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Portugal over reigning three-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current ASP Women’s World No. 1, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, in offshore six-to-eight-foot (2.5 metre) waves at the backup venue of Lagide.

The young Hawaiian was the dominant surfer from the outset of the event, consistently notching up the highest heat and wave scores of the round, and continued her backhand decimation with an excellent 17.44 out of a possible 20 in the Final.

“I’m really excited – my breath is taken away at the moment,” Moore said. “I’ve just been trying to take it heat by heat and not think about it who I’m coming up against all event, and focusing on my surfing each heat. I didn’t have too much time to think about it between the Semis and Final. The waves were so good so we had a quick turnaround, but once I was out there and I was looking at Steph (Gilmore), I was thinking, ‘wow, I’m in the Final with Steph right now.’”

The prodigious natural-footer had no easy path to her Final with Gilmore this afternoon, having to advance past Australians Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 19, and Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), 27, in her Quarterfinals and Semifinals respectively.

“Sally (Fitzgibbons) and I have had great match-ups all year and she has been surfing so well all event so I definitely felt a bit of relief after getting through that Quarterfinal,” Moore said. “Not to discount Claire (Bevilacqua) or Steph (Gilmore), but that Quarterfinal win gave me a bit of confidence for sure.”

Today’s victory rockets the rookie sensation from 8th to 5th on the ASP Women’s World Title Race rankings. Having missed the last event in Peru to attend her high school graduation, Moore is now 100% focused on the ASP Women’s World Tour and has announced herself as a major force amongst the women’s elite.

“I don’t have any excuses now without school anymore,” Moore said. “It’s great to have that extra time to dedicate to surfing and training. I’m stoked to be where I’m at right now. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico before. Each event is a new chance and a clean slate. I’ve heard they have some really fun waves and I can’t wait to get there.”

Gilmore’s Runner-Up finish solidifies her position as the frontrunner in the hunt for a fourth, consecutive ASP Women’s World Title. The iconic natural-footer now only needs to secure an Equal 3rd to clinch the title in Puerto Rico.

“The waves here in Peniche are always so much fun,” Gilmore said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t put on more of a show out there, but Carissa (Moore) showed everyone how much fun it can be out there. I’m very happy with a Runner-Up finish and I’m looking forward to the next event.”

Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), 27, secured a career-best result today, posting an Equal 3rd at the Rip Curl Women’s Pro Portugal and moving from 13th to 11th on the ASP Women’s World Title Race rankings.

“Just happy with the result,” Bevilacqua said. “I’m stoked I can hang around and enjoy Portugal for a few days and not worry about the contest. I’m staying at a beautiful place and I’m happy to be here.”

Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 27, former ASP Women’s World Champion, was the other form surfer to post an Equal 3rd in Portugal, moving from 4th to 3rd amongst the women’s world elite.

1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.44
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.60