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The Time I Almost Fell Off A Cliff In Australia

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Below is an anecdote about the time I nearly died at Grinders.

8 A.M:

The sound of my alarm rings inches from ear. I blindly slap around to find my phone that’s hidden deep in between the couch cushions. I roll off of the couch and put on the only clothes I brought; jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of reefs. As I stumble into the kitchen still half asleep, Michael says, “ Grinders today?” in an eager but questionable tone. He’s already seated at the table in front of the open sliding glass door, eating what resembles a granola bar dropped in a bowl of milk. I go through a mental checklist to try and come up with something other then grinders. Note, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is in full swing this weekend. Bells is off limits, Winkipop has everybody and their closest mates surfing, plus we had already surfed Pt. Addis and the other go to spots with little luck the days before. “Yeah, I’m keen”, I reply hesitantly, as I pull my bread out of the toaster.

The view from the top of the cliff.

The view from the top of the cliff.

Two weeks before:

We had just finished surfing and Michael wanted to check grinders before heading home. We pull into this dirt car park and he jumps out, I follow. As we start heading into the bush following this small footpath, a fence with the cliché “locals only” carved into the wooden post appears. A brisk jump over and we keep moving down this narrowing trail if you could even call it that. Another 5 minutes passes and here I am, getting my first look at grinders. As I stand there looking over the 100 foot near vertical cliff, I think to my self, there’s no f**king way I’m ever surfing here.

Steep enough for ya?

Steep enough for ya?

8:30 A.M:

We’ve finished breakfast and are outside loading up the ute. Boards get tossed in, followed by towels, and wetsuits. We pull out of his driveway and start heading down the Great Ocean Road towards Grinders. It’s a nice day, upper 50’s/low 60’s, partly cloudy, a light onshore breeze, and a forecasted 4′ swell. We pull onto the dirt road leading to grinders and I can feel my adrenaline already starting to pump thinking about making it down this cliff. He throws the truck in park and we start making our way through the knee-high grass to the cliff side. We hop the fence again and this time its for real, I’m actually going to have make it down this cliff.

Not the actual fence, but you get the idea.

Not the actual fence, but you get the idea. Photo: Chris Burkard

8:50 A.M:

Michael leads; showing me what he thinks is the proper technique to navigating this sketchy ass cliff. First, you have two options. Either walk the plank, a small wooden board placed across a 15 foot deep hole, or walk along the foot wide ledge of the hole, which is also the edge of the 100 foot cliff. After successfully crossing the creaking, weathered board, I look up and there’s two pieces of rebar with rope knotted around it. You guessed it, we grabbed onto the rope and navigated the edge of the cliff until I watched Michael take a sharp right and start descending the cliff. Trying to follow his exact footsteps, I take the sharp right grasping the scattered pieces of rebar and century old rope whenever possible. This is where I started to notice my reefs were no match for the crumbling rock. I continue to slowly make my way down and as I approach the last 15 feet of the cliff, I realize there are no more makeshift steps or switchbacks to follow down. There’s just this same piece of rope tied to a piece of rebar that was slammed into the side of the cliff, dangling down to the small patch of sand and rock beneath us. I watch Michael carefully bend over and grab the rope with one arm, board underneath the other, and slowly start to repel the last 15 feet. Yeah, I said repel, like hold onto a rope and jump down a cliff, repel. Now it’s my turn. My heart’s in my throat; I tug on the rope to see if the surfer with an engineering hobby that decided to set up this contraption did a good enough job. Rope in one hand, board under the other; I start stepping down the last drop off with absolutely no confidence in this rope. Surprisingly, my feet hit the sand first and the rope didn’t give out on me as soon as I took my first step.

Grinders hike up

 

11 A.M.

We get out of the water and with high tide approaching, there’s even less beach than there was before. This is the first time it crossed my mind that I was going to have to get up this cliff. Michael takes off first, firmly grabbing the rope and shimmying up one handed with ease. As soon as he lets go of the rope, I start walking my way up the vertical face to catch up with Michael. Everything is going smoothly until we reach the sharp turn. I’m wet, I have my board under one arm, and my reefs are basically as good as using banana peels for shoes. Waiting for Michael to make the last steep step up before we’re pretty much home free, I feel myself starting to slip. I made a crucial mistake; having put one knee down made it impossible to re-stand up with out sliding. I’m trying to grab onto any rock I can find to hold myself in place until I can get better footing, but nothing is within arms distance. Every time I move a muscle I slip more. Michael is up the last step already when I yell that I’m slipping and he needs to get down here. At first it was funny to him until he looked over the edge and realized I was indeed slipping, and slipping a lot. The wind has picked up now. I feel it catching my board; I’m starting to contemplate whether I should just throw it and use both hands or just keep clinging for dear life. While Michael is making his way down the cliff for the second time today, I’m digging my one free hand into the dirt as hard as possible trying not to fall to a certain death. After what felt like an hour, Michael finally made it down to me and  I can hand off my board and now use both hands. I pull my self together and start moving up the cliff again, slowly. Moving at a sloth like pace, I finally made it to the top where we had a good laugh at my misfortunes.

Looking up the cliff.

A better picture of the hike up.

Moral of the story: be glad you don’t have to do this every day at your local spot.

5 Reasons Every Surfer Should Visit Australia

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Recently I had the privilege to do a semester abroad in Australia. During my 6-month stay in the land down under, I can confidently say I spent more time surfing than in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong grades are important, but when the opportunity presents itself to surf world-class waves, you jump on it. Coming from a relatively small beach town with mediocre beach breaks to six-foot bells feels like what I imagine going from a mini van to a Mercedes would feel like. With this in mind below are my top five reasons every surfer should visit Australia at least once.

1. THE WAVES

This one should be obvious; anyone remotely interested in surfing knows Australia produces some of the best waves consistently. The variety of waves in a relatively small area is unparalleled. My first week at uni I met a bloke that lived on the great ocean road, one street past bells. Through him I got to experience spots most tourists would never see. The dynamics of these spots varied greatly even though we were only traveling ten or fifteen minutes. Australia can serve up anything from the rippable walls of over crowded point breaks, to secluded, thick lipped, beach break barrels.

Bells beach Photo:ASP

2. The Babes

Remember the chick from Wolf Of Wall Street? The hot one? Yeah, she’s Australian. Granted, not all Australian females look like her, but for the most part they’re easy on the eye. The lulls between sets provide the perfect opportunity to scout out a potential date for the night.

Not bad right?

3. The Locals

There’s a reason that Melbourne, Australia has been chosen as the worlds most livable city for the past three years. In my opinion, Australians are the friendliest type of people. Within my first week of being in Australia I had made such close friends I felt like I was their all my life. Australians are generally very welcoming people. Embrace and it score as many free home cooked meals as you can imagine.

4. The Eats

Everyone knows the post surf hunger feeling that can only be satisfied by a meal that could feed a small village. Everyone that goes to Australia, surfer or not, has to try a Tim-tam slam. What is a Tim-tam slam you ask? It consists of two simple ingredients, Tim-tams and milk. Combine the two and you have the perfect post surf snack. The second unique Australian dish I recommend is chips, cheese, and gravy. Combine french fries, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite gravy to have a true blue aussie meal.

The Goods

5. The Scenery

Last, but definitely not least, is the landscape. I was never really big into photography before this trip, but the views in Australia certainly changed my perspective. There is no place else in the world that can rival the landscape of Australia. If you get the chance to go to Australia, do it, it will certainly be life changing.

Cairns Australia

Surfer saves kangaroo. Animal lovers rejoice.

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I have no idea how a kangaroo got in the water, but it’s Australia! It’s bound to happen! Turns out, it got caught in a rip current at one point and you can’t help but pity the poor creature for not knowing that you gotta swim parallel to the beach to get out of a rip current. Show this video to everyone who hates surfers and maybe we’ll be respected a little bit more.

2009 ASP World Tour rankings – after event 2: Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach

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It’s still early in the 2009 season, but things have gotten a little more interesting following the completion of the 2009 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. The bloodshed at Bells rivaled that of the Gold Coast, with many of the top 10 falling in their very first heats at Bells. The new contest format proved challenging, yet successful, and has served as a real eye opener for traditional rankings leaders.

Let’s take a look at the updated rankings. For starters, Joel Parkinson’s back-to-back victories on the Gold Coast and at Bells give him a sizable 800 point lead over current world runner-up, his close friend and fellow Cooly kid, Mick Fanning. Mick has jumped into the two spot from number three, with his 5th place finish at Bells. Trailing Mick are third place Bells finishers, Jordy Smith (ZAF) and Fred Patacchia (HAW). Jordy’s equal third is his highest World Tour result to date and follows a very respectable narrow loss to Parko in the Bells semifinals.

Some big movers include Bobby Martinez (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), and Dean Morrison (AUS), who all went from 32nd to 19th; and Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) and Drew Courtney (AUS), who jumped from 16th to 9th; and

Notable drops in the rankings include Dane Reynolds (USA) 10 spot fall following a first round elimination by event wildcard, Owen Wright (AUS); nine-time World Champ, Kelly Slater (USA), who dropped 8 spots to number 24, following back-to-back first heat eliminations by wildcards; Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Muscroft (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Roy Powers (HAW), Greg Emslie (ZAF) and Dustin Barca (HAW), who all fell 13 spots to number 29.

A very honorable mention should go to Jay Thompson (AUS), who as an injury replacement surfer for Luke Stedman (AUS), has risen to 14th in the rankings following a 9th place finish at Bells. “Bottle” fans around the world are rejoicing.

Next up for the Dream Tour is the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, where we will see the world’s best facing off at one of the planet’s most difficult spots. More changes to come in the rankings following the Tahitian event, but keep an eye on wildcard, Andy Irons (HAW), who will be turning out for the South Pacific battle.

2009 ASP World Tour rankings – after event 2: Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach

1 Joel Parkinson (AUS)
2 Mick Fanning (AUS)
3 Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
3 Jordy Smith (ZAF)
5 C.J. Hobgood (USA)
6 Adriano de Souza (BRA)
7 Taj Burrow (AUS)
8 Tom Whitaker (AUS)
9 Bede Durbidge (AUS)
9 Adrian Buchan (AUS)
9 Kieren Perrow (AUS)
9 Damien Hobgood (USA)
9 Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
14 Jeremy Flores (FRA)
14 Taylor Knox (USA)
14 Jihad Khodr (BRA)
14 Drew Courtney (AUS)
14 Jay Thompson (AUS)
19 Bobby Martinez (USA)
19 Kai Otton (AUS)
19 Dane Reynolds (USA)
19 Dean Morrison (AUS)
19 Chris Davidson (AUS)
24 Kelly Slater (USA)
24 Dayyan Neve (AUS)
24 David Weare (ZAF)
24 Tim Boal (FRA)
24 Tiago Pires (PRT)
29 Chris Ward (USA)
29 Tim Reyes (USA)
29 Heitor Alves (BRA)
29 Roy Powers (HAW)
29 Mick Campbell (AUS)
29 Michel Bourez (PYF)
29 Josh Kerr (AUS)
29 Nic Muscroft (AUS)
29 Greg Emslie (ZAF)
29 Dustin Barca (HAW)
39 Luke Stedman (AUS)
39 Michael Picon (FRA)
39 Ben Dunn (AUS)
39 Nathaniel Curran (USA)
39 Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
39 Marlon Lipke (DEU)
39 Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
46 Gabe Kling (USA)

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach wraps up – Joel Parkinson wins another

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All Australia was a buzz on Friday when Cooly kid, Joel Parkinson posted a big win in the final of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. Joel took out frothing local wildcard, Adam Robertson in an exciting heat, held in perfect Bells conditions.

On his way to the podium, Parko fought off an enormously talented assault. In his first heat of the event, Joel comboed Tahitian rookie, Michel Bourez. In Round 3, he did the same to fellow Aussie, Kai Otton. He followed those wins up by taking down Floridian wonder-twin, CJ Hobgood in the quarterfinals, and South African sophomore, Jordy Smith in a tightly contested semifinal heat.

Taking home equal thirds were the very in-form, Jordy Smith, and Fred Patacchia, who posted a extremely solid result for a goofyfooter at Bells. Taking equal fifths were CJ Hobgood, Mick Fanning (AUS), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) and Kieren Perrow (AUS).

This win puts Joel on very solid lead towards a 2009 world title campaign. With back-to-back wins at the first two events of the year, his point lead and confidence will pose a serious challenge to the rest of the top 45. This could very well be the year that Joel takes home that much deserved title.

Unfortunately for a number of typical front-runners, Bells was not so kind. As we all saw earlier in the week, a good chunk of the top seeds went down in their first heats. Kelly Slater (USA), Taj Burrow (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Ace Buchan (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and a number of others, all went down in Round 2, clearing the way for some new faces in the later rounds.

Log on to the Rip Curl Pro website for a complete recap, photos, videos and heat sheets.

Next up for the Dream Tour is the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo, which kicks off in Tahiti on May 9th. See you in Tahiti.

Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach – Round 2 upsets continue with more top seed falling

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After taking a lay day to wait for better conditions (and to allow all of the surfers a chance to recover from the Round 2 carnage on Tuesday), the 2009 Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach went back into action on Thursday. Unfortunately for the remaining Round 2 seeds, only one out of the four remaining top seeds advanced on Thursday.

Taj Burrow’s (AUS) untimely exit marked the first upset of the day, when he was taken out by injury replacement surfer, Jay “Bottle” Thompson (AUS). Tim Reyes (USA) fell next in a stinging combo by Kieren Perrow (AUS). Ace Buchan (AUS) followed, losing by a huge margin thanks to a late heat interference in his match-up with Dean Morrison (AUS). Fred Patacchia (HAW) finally beat the top seed toppling trend, when he snuck by Drew Courtney (AUS) in the final heat of Round 2.

The event went on to run the first three heats of Round 3 at Bells, before moving down the beach to Winkipop, where the event was better sheltered from the high winds. Moving on to the quarterfinals are CJ Hobgood (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), local wildcard, Adam Robertson (AUS), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Kieren Perrow (AUS) and Fred Patacchia (HAW).

Bowing out in Round 3 were Taylor Knox (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Bobby Martinez (USA), Owen Wright (AUS), Tom Whitaker (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS), Jay Thompson (AUS) and Dean Morrison (AUS).

With only two days to go in the event waiting period, we’re likely to see a quick run through to the finals when competition resumes. Tune in to the event website for a complete recap, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Quarterfinal match-ups:

CJ Hobgood (USA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Adam Robertson (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)

Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach – Shocking upsets in Round 2 – WTF?

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Bells Beach was pumping and thumping on Tuesday for the beginning of Round 2 at the 2009 Rip Curl Pro, ushering in amazing performances and shocking upsets.

Nine-time World Champ, Kelly Slater’s Round 2 loss to Aussie Wildcard, Owen Wright was by far and away the biggest upset of the day. The reigning champ went down in a close heat with the young wildcard, marking his second 17th place finish of the season, and his second consecutive early loss to a young wildcard. The message boards were buzzing during and after the heat, questioning Slater’s board selection, and what this loss means for his 2009 campaign.

Other major upsets included 2008 second in the world, Bede Durbidge (AUS), who fell to local wildcard, Adam Robertson in another close match-up; current World Tour number 2, Adriano de Souza (BRA), who fell to newcomer, Drew Courtney (AUS); and top Euro surfer, Jeremy Flores (FRA), who was knocked out by frothing Hawaiian rookie, Kekoa Bacalso. Fortunately for the remaining seeds, event organizers put the event on hold after the top Fronchie marked the fourth major upset of the day.

Aside from the giant killers, top performances of the day went to current world number 1, Joel Parkinson (AUS), who comboed Tahitian rookie, Michel Bourez; Mick Fanning (AUS), who posted the highest heat score of the day (17.16 out of 20) to take out Portugal’s Tiago Pires; Bobby Martinez (USA), who used his backhand to utterly thrash rookie Fronchie, Tim Boal; Taylor Knox, who comboed fellow Californian top performer, Chris Ward; CJ Hobgood (USA), who nearly comboed Mick Campbell (AUS); and Jordy Smith (ZAF), who continued to prove his value by ousting Damien Hobgood (USA) in a tightly fought heat.

When competition resumes, we’ll see Taj Burrow try to maintain his frontrunner status against fellow Aussie and event wildcard, Jay Thompson. Log on to the event website for a complete recap, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Rip Curl Women’s Pro – Silvana Lima takes her first World Tour win

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The Rip Curl Women’s Pro wrapped up on Easter Sunday in perfect chest to head high waves at Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia.  Silvana Lima (BRA) took out two time and current World  Champ and two time event winner, Steph Gilmore (AUS), handily defeating the champ, leaving Steph needing a near perfect score of 9.51 to take the win.

On her way to the winner’s podium, Silvana took second to Chelsea Hedges (AUS), but topped Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), in their first round heat.  She then took out Hawaiian rookie, Alana Blanchard in Round 3, before narrowly defeating Rebecca Woods (AUS) in their low scoring quarterfinal match-up.  She went on to combo former World Champ and fellow South American, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) in the semifinals, before taking out the current World Champ in the final.

Log on to the event website for a complete recap, photos, videos and heat sheets.  Also, be sure to tune in on Monday morning for the continuation of the men’s Rip Curl Pro, which will pick up with the start of Round 2 when the event resumes.

Rip Curl Women’s Pro at Bells Beach – Women’s World Champs rule the opening day

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The Women’s World Tour hit the water on Wednesday in Victoria, Australia at the 2009 Rip Curl Women’s Pro at Bells Beach. The ladies ran through all of Round 1 in their first day of competition, using a 6 heat, 3 contestant per heat format, where the top two in each heat advance, and the third place finisher has to duke it out in the Round 2 “losers’ round”.

World Champs ruled the day, with seven-time World Champ, Layne Beachley and former World Champ, Chelsea Hedges posting the two highest heat scores of the day. Former World Champ, Sofia Mulanovich ruled her heat, and reigning World Champ, Steph Gilmore easily won hers.

Advancing directly to Round 3 were Aussies, Sally Fitzgibbons, Amee Donohoe, Layne Beachley, Steph Gilmore, Chelsea Hedges and Sam Cornish; South Africa’s Roseann Hodge; Brazilians, Bruna Schmitz, Silvana Lima and Jacqueline Silva; former World Champ, Sofia Mulanovich of Peru, and Hawaiian rookie, Alana Blanchard.

Forced to battle it out in Round 2 are Aussies, Rebecca Woods, Nikki Van Dijk and Jessi Miley-Dyer, New Zealand’s Paige Hareb, and Hawaiians, Coco Ho and Melanie Bartels. At the end of Round 2, only 4 of the 6 contestants will move on to Round 3.

Round 2 will kick off when the event resumes, pitting the third place finishers from Round 1 against one another for a spot in Round 3.

Log on to the event website for news, updates, photos, videos and all the live action.

2009 World Qualifying Series rankings following the 6 Star Prime Drug Aware Pro

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The biggest event this season to date, the 6 Star Prime Drug Aware Pro, wrapped up on Sunday at Margaret River, West Australia. Along with the world class conditions that accompanied the event, was a solid reshuffling of the rankings following the event. Once again, we’re still in the early days of the season, but the bigger numbers are beginning to fall into place with the completion of back to back 6 Star and 6 Star Prime events.

Surging to the top of the rankings is Adam Melling (AUS), whose runner-up finish at Margaret River, backed by his falling just short of the quarterfinals at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, Tasmania, allowed him to leapfrog from 33rd to 1st. Brett Simpson (USA) jumped five spots to number 2, Dion Atkinson (AUS) jumped 14 spots to number 3, and former World Tour surfer Daniel Ross showed his teeth, with a solid victory at the Drug Aware Pro placing him at number 4. High profile board “borrower” Pablo Paulino (BRA) remains at number 5, while fellow Brazilian, Marco Polo surged five spots to number 6. Rising Aussie star, Owen Wright jumped ten spots to number 7, Spanish campaigner Gony Zubizarreta hopped one spot to number 8, Jean da Silva (BRA) fell seven spots to number 9, and former World Tour surfer Jay “Bottle” Thompson jumped into the 10 spot. Brazilian giant killer, Bruno Santos fell from number 1 to number 11, while World Tour sophomore, Jordy Smith (ZAF) fell from number 3 to number 28, after not putting in for the Margaret River event.

Check the top 33 to see who else fell where, and get ready for some more changes as the 4 Star Protest Vendee Pro has just kicked off in France this week, the 6 Star Prime Quiksilver Pro Durban will be running in South Africa from April 19th through the 26th, and the 6 Star Estoril Quiksilver Pro runs in Portugal from the 21st through the 26th. Get ready for an amazing run of action.

1 Adam Melling (AUS) 4438
2 Brett Simpson (USA) 4275
3 Dion Atkinson (AUS) 4250
4 Daniel Ross (AUS) 4125
5 Pablo Paulino (BRA) 4050
6 Marco Polo (BRA) 3800
7 Owen Wright (AUS) 3550
8 Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 3475
9 Jean da Silva (BRA) 3425
10 Jay Thompson (AUS) 3400
11 Bruno Santos (BRA) 3279
12 Warwick Wright (ZAF) 3150
13 Paulo Moura (BRA) 3138
14 Leonardo Neves (BRA) 3106
15 Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 3100
15 Jadson Andre (BRA) 3100
17 Luke Munro (AUS) 3000
18 Manuel Selman (CHL) 2969
19 Darrell Goodrum (USA) 2954
20 Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 2875
21 Brad Ettinger (USA) 2838
22 Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 2800
23 Bernardo Miranda (BRA) 2738
24 Austin Ware (USA) 2732
25 Hodei Collazo (ESP) 2650
26 Dusty Payne (HAW) 2600
27 Blake Thornton (AUS) 2588
28 Jordy Smith (ZAF) 2500
29 Travis Logie (ZAF) 2451
30 Dane Gudauskas (USA) 2450
30 Yuri Sodre (BRA) 2450
32 Drew Courtney (AUS) 2438
33 TJ Barron (HAW) 2413
33 Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 2413

Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach – Dane Reynolds sent packing, Jordy Smith dominates

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The World Tour went back into action on Tuesday in Victoria, Australia at the world famous Bells Beach. Making history, the event kicked off the new ASP World Tour contest format, employing single elimination, man-on-man heats from the first round of competition. This format change made every heat in the first round count more than ever, and saw a few surprise early eliminations.

The most notable early exit goes to California’s Dane Reynolds, who many on tour, including King Kelly Slater himself, have told us is the most talented surfer in the world. Surfing on his backhand, Aussie wildcard, Owen Wright destroyed the right-hand bowls that snuck through, leaving Dane needing an easily attainable (for him) 6.68 to advance. Dane couldn’t seem to find his groove, falling on a few waves in a relatively wave starved heat, and then missing his chance to make up the difference with a big set arriving just after the final buzzer.

Following on the heels of Dane’s ouster, fellow much hyped tour sophomore, South Africa’s Jordy Smith dominated his opening round heat, obliterating Aussie wildcard, Matt Wilkinson with a heat total of 18.70 out of 20. In comboing Wilkinson, Jordy set the highest heat score of the event and the highest single wave score of the event. If Jordy can back up his early performance in his subsequent heats, he will truly be a force to be reckoned with in this event.

Along with Owen Wright and Jordy Smith, advancing through to Round 2 were David Weare (ZAF), Michel Bourez (PFY), Jay Thompson (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA), Dayyan Neve (AUS), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Jihad Khodr (BRA), Adam Robertson (AUS), Mick Campbell (AUS), Dean Morrison (AUS), Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), Drew Courtney (AUS), Tim Boal (FRA) and Tiago Pires (PRT).

Joining Dane Reynolds and Matt Wilkinson on the early flight home were Nathaniel Curran (USA), Roy Powers (HAW), Heitor Alves (BRA), Phillip MacDonald (AUS), Marlon Lipke (DEU), Aritz Aranburu (EUK), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Chris Davidson (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS), Nic Muscroft (AUS), Ben Dunn (AUS), Greg Emslie (ZAF), Miky Picon (FRA) and Dustin Barca (HAW).

Round 2 will kick off when the event resumes, pitting the winners of Round 1 against last year’s top 16. Reigning World Champ, Kelly Slater will face off against Owen Wilson, while current number 1, Joel Parkinson will have to fight off Michel Bourez.

Log on to the event website for news, updates, photos, videos and all the live action.

Drug Aware Pro – Melanie Redman-Carr takes win number four

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Former women’s World Tour surfer, Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS) took down a talented field of surfers to her fourth win at the 5 Star 2009 Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River, West Australia on Saturday.

Melanie began her campaign in Round 2, where she topped World Tour surfer, Amee Donohoe (AUS) and ousted Angie Koops (AUS) and Suelen Naraisa (BRA). In Round 3, she handily defeated Laura Macauley (AUS) and showed the exit to Dara Penfold (AUS), and World Tour surfer, Alana Blanchard (HAW). Round 4, had Melanie advancing under Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), and taking down Claudia Goncalves (BRA). In the quarterfinals, she took out Hawaiian supergrom, Carissa Moore, then beat former World Champ, Sofia Mulanovich in the semis. In the finals, Melanie posted a solid victory over World Tour rookie, Coco Ho (HAW).

The ladies event featured a solid run of surf allowing for superior performances in the picture perfect conditions. For a full recap, log on to the event website, where you can also find photos, videos, and heat sheets. Next up for the ladies WQS is the 4 Star Women’s Pipeline Pro, kicking off in Hawaii on Tuesday. See you in Hawaii.

Drug Aware Pro – Daniel Ross takes top honors

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Following up on his stellar performance of a few days earlier, former World Tour surfer, Daniel Ross (AUS) took the win on Sunday at the 2009 Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River, West Australia. The win was Ross’ highest career win to date, and puts him near the top of the rankings and on a solid path to World Tour qualification.

Beginning his campaign in Round 2, Daniel Ross topped Brandon Jackson (ZAF) and ousted Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) and Clint Kimmins (AUS). In Round 3, he comboed the field with a heat total of 19.30 out of 20, topping Paulo Moura (BRA) and showing the exit to Dusty Payne (HAW) and Kai Barger (HAW). In Round 4, Daniel again kicked ass, topping Brandon Jackson (ZAF) and taking out the last surviving Gudauskas brother, Dane Gudauskas (USA). Round 5 featured a Round 3 rematch, with Daniel putting down Paulo Moura for good, and the quarterfinals featured a Round 4 rematch, with Brandon Jackson (ZAF) being show the door. In the semifinals, Daniel took down fellow Aussie, Luke Munro, then went on to take down fellow Aussie, Adam Melling in the final.

The event lucked out with a solid run of swell, allowing for a perfect canvas for the world’s top surfers. Log on to the event website for a complete recap, news, photos, videos and heat sheets. Next up for the men’s WQS is the 4 Star Protest Vendee Pro, kicking off in France on Monday, followed by the 6 Star Prime Quiksilver Pro Durban, which goes live on April 19th in Durban, South Africa. See you in France.

Drug Aware Pro – Rounds 2 and 3 recap – the Brazilian board theft conspiracy

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The 6 Star Prime, Drug Aware Pro had another amazing day of waves on Friday at Margaret River, West Australia. The remaining heats of Round 2 and all of Round 3 were completed in the overhead to double overhead surf.

Former World Tour surfer, Daniel Ross was the big standout of the day. Opting for a 7 foot board in the oversized surf, he absolutely destroyed his competition, scoring a total of 19.30 out of 20, and leaving his entire heat in a combo situation.

Pablo Paulino (BRA) caused a bit of controversy when he broke his board in his Round 2 heat. Lacking a backup board, he stole Kirk Flintoff’s (AUS) backup board off of a nearby buoy and proceeded to win the heat on it. Complaints were lodged and Paulino received an interference for the action, but he still won the heat. Second place Kirk Flintoff was just happy he still remained in the running following the heat. Unfortunately for Flintoff, he fell in his following Round 3 heat, while Paulino advanced through to Round 4.

Notable exits from Round 2 included World Tour surfer, Tom Whitaker (AUS) and Nic Muscroft (AUS), former World Tour surfers, Cory Lopez (USA), Ricky Basnett (ZAF), and Travis Logie (AUS), and WQS campaigners, Dusty Payne (HAW), Kai Barger (HAW), Yadin Nicol (AUS), Mason Ho (HAW), Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), Patrick and Tanner Gudauskas (USA), and Jadson Andre (BRA), along with several others.

When competition resumes, the men will start with the beginning of Round 4. Log on to the event website for updates, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Drug Aware Pro – The Ladies are Killing it

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The women’s WQS 5 Star Drug Aware Pro continued on Wednesday and Thursday, setting up the quarterfinalists for when the action resumes.

Dropping out in Rounds 3 and 4 were World Tour surfers, Alana Blanchard (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) and Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), former World Tour surfer, Nicola Atherton (AUS), and talented campaigners, Sage Erickson (USA), Pauline Ado (FRA), Nikita Robb (ZAF), Laura Macauley (AUS), and others.

Carissa Moore (HAW) has been the absolute standout of the women’s event, continuing to show her amazing skill by easily topping her Round 3 heat and comboing her Round 4 heat.

Facing off in the quarterfinals when competition kicks back into action are:

Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Melanie Redman-Carr (AUS)

Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)

Amee Donohoe (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)

Lee Ann Curren (FRA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)

Don’t miss a second of the action. Log on to the event website for updates, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Drug Aware Pro – Rounds 1 and 2 recap – big names continue to fall

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The 6 Star Prime, Drug Aware Pro has been off and running this week at Margaret River, West Australia. The WQS men have been grinding through the early heats of this high points event, with Wednesday and Thursday seeing the completion of Round 1 and most of Round 2.

Notable exits from Round 1 include former World Tour surfers, Dean Randazzo (USA), and Royden Bryson (ZAF). Falling out in Round 2 were World Tour surfer, Chris Ward (USA) and Drew Courtney (AUS), and former World Tour surfers, Nathan Hedge (AUS), Mark Occhilupo (AUS), and Jake Patterson (AUS). Joining these elite surfers on the early flights home are a talented group of international campaigners, including Hira Terrinatoofa (PYF), TJ Barron (HAW), Granger Larson (HAW), Sebastien Zietz (HAW), Brian Toth (PRI), Hugo Savalli (REU), Yuri Sodre (BRA), Patrick Bevan (FRA), Joan Duru (FRA), and Bernardo Miranda (BRA), among several others.

Event standouts over the past two days were Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) who swept his heat, comboing all of his fellow competitors with a combined heat score of 17.40 out of 20, and Leonardo Neves (BRA), who conquered his heat with 16.00.

Keep watching, as things are just getting heated up. Log on to the event website for updates, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Damien Hobgood and Jordy Smith caught in compromising position in Tasmania

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At the conclusion of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic on Tasmania, World Tour sophomore, Jordy Smith was crowned cold water king, while fellow World Tour surfer, Damien Hobgood took runner-up. While Damien put up a strong backhand attack on the heavy rights that were heaving through the lineup, Jordy put on a stunning forehand performance to oust the Floridian wonder twin in the final heat.

What happened when they paddled in after the heat was beyond anyone’s imagination. In a stunning display of public voyeurism, Damien covered his South African opponent in his frothy love, in front of fans, cameras and fellow pro surfers. While we haven’t yet heard directly from Jordy’s people, it is apparent that Jordy took it like a man, and smiled as he was coated in Damien’s foamy discharge. O’Neill has remained mum on the subject, as have those that were present. However, we at DailyStoke.com are not afraid to shy away from a little ASP controversy. Head to the link for full coverage of the WQS hedonism.

(Of course, it’s a little bit of April Fools…)

Drug Aware Pro – Tuesday recap – top seeds fall early

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With the trialists decided, the main event jumped into action on Tuesday, running through all of Round 2 on the women’s event and the first two heats of Round 1 in the men’s event.

The women saw a number of notable early exits, with Round 1 and 2 shuts out including World Tour surfers, Bruna Schmitz (BRA), Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and Rebecca Woods (AUS), former World Tour surfer, Karina Petroni (USA), and a number of other top competitors, including Laurina McGrath (AUS), Serena Brooke (AUS), Bethany Hamilton (HAW), and others.

Some of the better performances were logged by Carissa Moore (HAW), who easily won both of her heats; former World Champ, Sofia Mulanovich, who topped a talented heat; and World Tour surfers, Alana Blanchard (HAW), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) and Paige Hareb (NZL), who destroyed their respective heats.

Though the men only made it through two heats, they already saw a couple of huge exits, with top Tahitian talent, Tamaroa McComb, and Brazilian giant killer and current WQS number 1, Bruno Santos going down in the very first heat.

Keep watching, as there’s plenty more action to come. Log on to the event website for updates, photos, videos, heat sheets and all the live action.

Drug Aware Pro – kicking off on Tuesday

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The 2009 6 Star Prime Drug Aware Pro is kicking off Tuesday morning at Margaret River, Western Australia. The event is the first Prime rated event of the 2009 World Qualifying Series season with a huge prize purse and a lot of ratings points there for the taking.

Following fresh on the heels of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, which just wrapped up in Tasmania, the Drug Aware Pro will have even greater points on offer for the winner. We can expect to see every big name on the WQS to turn out for the event, with WQS campaigners hoping to post big points early in the season.

The trials will start running on Monday, in preparation for the main event, which is expected to kick off on Tuesday. With an event window running from March 31st to April 5th.

Log on to the event website for news, updates, photos, videos, results and all the live action.

Jordy Smith wins O’Neill Cold Water Classic

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The O’Neill Cold Water Classic finished up in Tasmania on Sunday, crowning sophomore, World Tour surfer Jordy Smith (ZAF) the inaugural champ. Jordy took down first place in a convincing win over fellow World Tour surfer, Damien Hobgood (USA) in the final.

On his way to the win, Jordy destroyed the on-fire young Aussie, Owen Wright in the quarterfinals, then went on to defeat Brazilian charger, Jadson Andre in the semis. Damien took out young Hawaiian talent, TJ Barron in the quarterfinals, then stopped fellow American, Patrick Gudauskas in the semifinals.

Honorable mention should go to Masatoshi Ohno, the highest ranked Japanese surfer, who put in a solid showing before ultimately being put down in the quarterfinals by Patrick Gudauskas. Dion Atkinson of Australia also deserves praise for his stellar run before he was barely edged out by Jadson Andre in their quarterfinal match up.

Log on to the event website for a complete recap, photos, videos, and heat sheets. Next up for the men’s WQS is the 6 Star Prime Drug Aware Pro kicking off at Margaret River, West Australia on Monday.