Thomas Woods 

In hot almost summer like conditions at Jan Juc Beach, talented Gold Coast surfer Thomas Woods and Victoria’s own Nikki Van Dijk (Phillip Island) took convincing wins in the blue ribbon 16 year Boy and Girl divisions of the prestigious Rip Curl GromSearch Series in clean small 0.5m surf.

The win qualifiers both surfers for a position in the Rip Curl GromSearch Australian final which will run at Bells Beach just prior to the Rip Curl Pro World Championship event at Bells Beach next Easter and both have the opportunity to then go on and surf in the GromSearch international final which also runs at Bells during Easter.

Thomas Woods (15 years old) was in awesome form today easily winning his semi final and taking command in the final early when he scored an excellent 8 point ride.

“I can’t believe I’ve finally won , it’s the best result of my life and to qualify for the Australian final is such a relief. I’ll surf the rest of the series with no pressure and just go big and try and win the overall ratings as well” said Woods after his win.

“These events are really hard to win with so many great young surfers competing at each event and to defeat Ryan Callinan (Newcastle) who has surfed so well all week is just a great result for me”

Woods ended the final with a score line of 14.83 for his top two rides to Callinan on 13.80 with NSW surfers Wade Carmichael and Jack Scollard in 3rd and 4th respectively.

Nikki Van Dijk’s excellent junior career took another significant step forward with her win in the Girls division. The 14 year old Phillip Island surfer surfed in both the 14 Girls and the 16 Girls division and while she had to settle for 2nd in the 14’s behind NSW rival Ellie Jean Coffey, Van Dijk dominated the 16 Girls division to take a very easy win and secure her position into the national Rip Curl GromSearch final.

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Adrian Buchan 

Adrian Buchan (AUS) has beaten eight-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) to win his first ever ASP World Tour event – the Quiksilver Pro France – in Hossegor, France today.

Buchan beat Slater 15.73 to 15.16 in a tight heat held at Les Bourdaines this afternoon. The final berth was the first of Buchan’s ASP World Tour career. Prior to winning the Quiksilver Pro France, Buchan he had never advanced from the quarterfinal round.

“I can’t believe it, to have Kelly in the final and to beat him, I am speechless,” Buchan said. “He is my hero. I have watched him win five events this year – he has just been phenomenal. He sets the bar so high for all of us guys, I am really thankful that surfing has got such a great custodian."

Had Buchan lost the heat, Slater would have clinched his ninth ASP World Title. Buchan led the heat for most of the 35-minute affair with Slater needing a very attainable 7.51 to change the situation. The eight-time ASP World Champion caught a wave with seconds to go but came up short.

“I tried not to think about it paddling out for the final,” Buchan said. “I had visions of him winning the title but I just tried to focus on myself and what I had to do out there – get two really good waves. Luckily Kelly did not get that one at the end."

Buchan, who has been on tour for three years, spent the first half of his rookie year injured. He earned an injury wildcard to compete on the tour in 2007 and finished the year rated 19th. He jumps to world No. 9 with this result.

“I have been injured so obviously doing well and to have a win today makes it all sweet,” Buchan said. “My goal this year was to finish in the top 10 so we’ll see, we might have to take a look at reassessing that."

Slater dug deep in an effort to win his sixth event of the season, willing a last minute wave to pop up in the dying seconds. Despite needing a relatively small score, he was unable to pull out the last-minute comeback he’s renowned for.

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Kelly Slater

Tahitian wildcard Michel Bourez may have hindered Kelly Slater’s 2007 ASP World Title hopes by knocking him out of the Quiksilver Pro France last year, but he certainly helped the Floridian’s cause today.

Bourez beat ASP World No. 3 Bede Durbidge (AUS) – one of only two surfers factoring in whether or not Slater can clinch his ninth ASP World Title in France – by posting a near-perfect heat total today. Bourez opened the heat with a 9.80, backed it up with a 9.77 and left Durbidge searching for 19.57 points to swing the scenario his way.

“The heat was really good,” Bourez said. “There were a couple of really good rights and lefts out there but the rip was really strong and I needed to catch the first wave so that is what I did. I got that first left and I didn’t know it was a 9.80, I thought it was just an 8.00 and then I got that 9.77 after and Bede was combed so I’m stoked.”

Bourez is currently rated 14th on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) – the top 15 competitors on that series qualify for the ASP World Tour at year’s end. Having eliminated an eight-time ASP World Champion in Slater at this event last year, and then outside hopefuls for the 2008 ASP World Title in Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Durbidge this week, Bourez certainly seems to have the skills to mix it up amongst the world’s best.

“It doesn’t feel too good to be interfering with the title because those guys are here to win and I’m just here to beat those guys,” Bourez said. “Hopefully I’ll be here to beat those guys next year. I’m just in this event to prove myself and surf good waves – we surf really small waves on the WQS so I’m stoked to have a heat like that.”

Slater is now two steps closer to ASP World Title No. 9 after today’s proceedings. The scenario coming into the event was such that should Slater win the event, with Durbidge bowing out before the Final and ASP World No. 2 Taj Burrow being eliminated before the Semifinals, he would win the 2008 title in France.

Durbidge is out and Slater is into Round 4 after winning a tough heat over wildcard Joan Duru (FRA). Duru had the heat lead until Slater found two 8.00s late in the heat – he admitted that he has been slightly rattled by being so close to clinching ASP World Title No. 9 and that his surfing in France is not what it has been in earlier events this year.

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