March 19, 2010 : – – Surfers' Point Margaret River Western Australia — Huge surf provided ideal conditions as the world's top surfers charged the 3 to 4m (12 feet plus) waves at Margaret River today.
Local favorite and current Association of Surfing Professionals world number one rated surfer Taj Burrow lead the charge by easily winning both his round of 24 and round of 16 heats to advance through to tomorrow's quarter finals where he will face fellow WA surfer Yadin Nicol.
"It's seriously big out there this morning" said an excited Burrow after the heat win. "The largest sets are closing out the bay and we had to really had to communicate with the Jet Ski water patrol and avoid some of those sets – I concentrated on surfing the "smaller 10 feet" sets, which worked well for me."
Big wave surfers were in their element today. Late in the day CJ Hobgood dominated the break scoring both the day's highest scoring ride of a 9.17 along with the day's highest heat tally of 17.17 in his big win over Heitor Alves from Brazil.
"I love it out there - it's really like surfing in Hawaii and there's so much wave face to work with" said the 2001 World Champion. "I'm excited about tomorrow with clean offshore winds and excellent conditions - it should be a great day to finish."
Shortly after current World Champion Mick Fanning was eliminated from the event going down to a rampaging Josh Kerr who controlled the heat early when he scored an excellent 8 point ride on a solid wave and performed some critical vertical moves to win the heat by 2.36 points - 14.93 Kerr to Fanning on 12.57.
"That's the first time I've beaten Mick in a man-on man heat so that's a notch in the belt," said Kerr. "I saw Mick fall on his last wave and knew I had a chance to take the heat - I felt good on that last ride, three strong turns in these conditions and I was confident I'd nailed the score and that's how it turned out," said Kerr.
Adrian Buchan won the closest duel of the day defeating Nic Muscroft in a heat that saw the lead change multiple times. Buchan's last ride in the final 30 seconds when requiring a 6.4 wave score and registering a 6.8 saw him take the heat to advance to quarter final three tomorrow.
The final two heats of the day, with strong winds and consistent solid sets were won by Corey Lopez (USA) and Sunny Garcia (Hawaii) and they will face off in tomorrow's 4th quarter final.
Contest Director Mike McAuliffe, an experienced Margaret River surfer, adjusted the event schedule maximising the men's division on the peak of this swell and at this stage is aiming to complete the Men's final of the Drug Aware Pro presented by Rusty around midday tomorrow with the Women's scheduled for Sunday.
"The swell has peaked today and will slowly drop but I expect it to remain quite solid to 2m and with ideal winds the weekend's looking really good - if anything, tomorrow's conditions will be ideal for super high performance surfing which will be fantastic for the large crowds we're expecting here."
Tomorrow's Quarter finals:
Quarter Final 1: Taj Burrow V Yadin Nicol
Quarter Final 2: C J Hobgood V Bede Durbidge
Quarter Final 3: Josh Kerr V Adrian Buchan
Quarter Final 4: Cory Lopez V Sunny Garcia