In an unprecedented move of tactics, Brazil's Pablo Paulino snapped his board during his heat, didn't have a backup board anywhere so instead of packing it in, the dude swam to a nearby buoy and ganked Kirk Flintoff's stick! Pablo "Sticky Fingers" Paulino seemed to really like the board and got two solid scores on it to win the heat. Coming in at second and advancing, Flintoff was pretty mellow about it, saying "I'm not that fussed really." Read on…

Pablo Pualino Drug Aware Pro Margaret River

Don’t leave your board laying around when Pablo “Sticky Fingers” Pualino is near. Photo: Surfing Australia

Defending Champion And Number One Seed Tom Whitaker Eliminated As Drug Aware Pro Pro Serves Up Power Packed Surf

Pablo Paulino wins through by "borrowing" his fellow competitors surfboard!

Friday April 3 2009, Margaret River Western Australia: For Immediate Release – A perfect day of surfing with Margaret River serving up ideal large 3m (8 feet) surf which saw  plenty of outstanding high scores, some big upsets , broken boards and legropes and some serious controversies!

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Dream Tour surfer and defending champion of the Drug Aware Pro Tom Whitaker was dealt a cruel blow by the powerful swells today. Whitaker, who is presently rated 9th in the world and is also the number one seed at this event opened his heat with a strong 7 point ride and looked well in control of his round two heat.

Then Margaret River decided to serve up the set of the day, with a very large 10 feet plus set closing out the reef forcing Whitaker and his opponent Adam Robertson to take the set on the head. When the set cleared, Robertson and his surfboard survived intact but unfortunately for Whitaker, his legrope snapped and he was forced to swim over 100m to get his back up board, get back in the line up and resume his heat.

Adam Melling Drug Aware Pro Margaret River

Adam Melling at the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River. Photo: Surfing Australia

The ordeal cost him easily 10 minutes in the 30 minute heat and while he remained in control and leading the heat until the final minute, he never found a decent back up score and was eliminated with Leigh Sedley (AUS/Qld) taking the win and Robertson (AUS/Vic) taking second place on his final ride.

"That's surfing, you can be winning one event and last the next because the ocean dishes you a blow" said Whitaker.

"We didn't expect a set that big and were caught out of position and totally cleaned up, my leash snapped like a rubber band and after a big swim I was out of synch and any little error like that at this level and your competitors will exploit you."

Pablo Paulino (Brazil) provided the day's most controversial incident during his high scoring heat win over Kirk Flintoff (AUS) who also advanced in second place.

In what is believed to be a first in professional surfing, Pablino snapped a board early in the heat and without a backup board in place on the nearby buoy, simply swam to the buoy and took Kirk Flintoff's back up board and surfed the remainder of the heat.

The board worked exceptionally well for Paulino and he scored strong 7.5 and 6.5 rides to win the heat.

Protests from his fellow competitors about Paulino's tactics saw ASP officials penalise him an interference which resulted in a 3.25 score deduction but Paulino's scores then totalled 10.75 and he still won the heat!

While some thought he should have been disqualified, the rules indicated the unusual interference could only be penalised as an interference.

"I guess if I had have been eliminated in 3rd place and it was my board he took I would have been really upset and fought even harder for disqualification but seeing I placed second well, I'm not that fussed really" said Flintoff.

Australia's Daniel Ross was easily the days standout surfer scoring two outstanding 9.65  rides to notch up the days highest scoring ride and highest scoring heat tally of 19.3 out of a possible 20  in his huge win over Paulo Moura (BRA) on 12.33.

"I love it here and have placed 3rd in this event the past two years and feel like I can win" said Ross.

"I'm riding a bigger board which is 7 feet, probably longer than anyone else and while it's big I figure I have an advantage out here."

Other strong performances today came from Adam Melling and Owen Wright (both AUS/Lennox Head) who thrived in the big waves, South Africa's Brandon Jackson, Gony Zubizaretta (Spain) and Brett Simpson (USA).

The waves remained good all day and the outlook for the weekend finals of both Men's and Women's Drug Aware Pro should be run in outstanding surf.

The women's quarterfinals through to final will run tomorrow while Men's final will run on Sunday.

Drug Aware Pro Margaret River is the biggest ASP World Qualifying Series Six Star Prime Rated event in the world. Prize money totalling $US145 000 and essential prime rated points on the ASP World Qualifying Series ensures an outstanding field of the world's best surfers. A field of more than 250 surfers representing countries such as New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, USA, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, France, Spain, England, Portugal, Reunion Island, Canary Islands, Japan and Israel will be competing with some of Australia's best surfers across the week long event.