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Tuesday 28 February, 2006
Snapper Rocks, Queensland, Australia

(28 February to 12 March)

The man himself…Kelly Slater
Live on and

In excellent long-winding Snapper Rocks waves the favourites of the Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung really stepped up to the plate to shine in their respective heats in the opening round of the first event on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour.

Seven-time world champion Kelly Slater (USA), three-time world champion Andy Irons (HAW) and current world number three and defending event champion Mick Fanning (AUS) all locked in tremendous performances to open their accounts and notched up some extremely high scores.Slater, in his heat against wildcard Jeremy Flores (REU) and Tom Whitaker (AUS), started slow and in the opening stages Flores looked as though he was going to cause an upset.

Coming to life just over the halfway mark of the heat, Slater countered with a massive 9.8 out of 10 when he executed a series of gravity defying top turns after making his way in and out of a very deep tube ride.

On getting back in the water for his opening encounter Slater acknowledged the difference between two and three man heats.

“In a three man heat it’s a little tricky because there’s a lot of games going on between each of us,” said Slater. “Between second and third, between first and third, between first and second. Everyone is trying to position themselves in a certain way, the guy in third place could have the best wave of the heat so he could actually be dominating the heat… its just a totally different mind set.”

Irons, meanwhile, also shone and although falling on a couple of his larger waves he charged into some hefty turns throwing huge amounts of spray.

Eager to launch an all out assault to reclaim the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour crown, Irons defeated trials winner Ben Dunn (AUS) and Brazilian favourite Paulo Moura.

“I’m excited the tour is starting up again,” said Irons. “It feels like it is going really fast and I’m happy to be here on the Gold Coast as the waves are pumping. It’s a right, I’m a regular foot, it’s warm and I’m from Hawaii so it feels good. Plus it’s just a really high-performance wave. It goes for ages. You can do 15 turns on one wave.”

Fanning, who with his good mates Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Dean Morrison (AUS), spends most of his home time surfing at the famed right-hander and showed his determination to add another Quiksilver Pro title to his collection when he opened with a 9.7.

Fanning’s renowned lightening fast repertoire was on show for all as he whipped his board all over the wave face linking together some solid frontside gouges.

When talking about his 2006 plans at this stage he’s taking it all in his stride.

“I didn’t have the consistency that those guys did,” said Fanning on Slater and Irons. “So if I can just work on that consistency and get a few wins then hopefully I can go a lot further than last year.”

On his pre-event tactics, Fanning revealed he was taking a slightly different approach.

“I have been playing way under the radar, said Fanning. “I’ve only been coming out to surf really quickly in my free surfs – just getting in and out and then getting away from the event site. I’m just cruising and feeling really good.”

Of the rookies who progressed through to round three by winning their respective first round encounters, Hawaiian Pancho Sullivan lived up to expectations by putting on a powerhouse performance.

The heavy set regular-foot was extreme in his edge to edge surfing and was throwing large chunks of spray every time he launched into a turn. He showed no signs of being jittery but indicated that the usual rookie nerves were overcome as soon as he landed on his board on the first wave.

“There was a little nervous tension there, but once I took off on the wave I felt right at home,” said Sullivan. “I’ve aspired to be on this tour for two years as the wave quality is just incredible. It really is the ‘Dream Tour’ and these type of venues really allow professional surfing to show how much of an extreme sport it really is. It’s an honour to be a part of it and be able to elevate my own performance level.”

Pint-sized Adriano de Souza was another rookie to gain attention with his domination over his more seasoned rivals Fred Patacchia (HAW) and Chris Ward (USA).

De Souza, who has been dubbed by many as perhaps being Brazil’s first Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion, mixed old school carves with exciting new school slides and airs and was very happy with his first-ever top tour heat.

“The feeling was so good,” said de Souza. “The heat was important and at the beginning I got a great wave and I was like, ‘Oh my god, that is so crazy.’ After that I relaxed and I scored a 9.0. I can’t believe that I’m here on the tour.”

Slater is also in the running for the $AUS5000 in the Evian Longest Tuberide award. On the highest scoring wave of the day, aforementioned above, Slater’s disappearing act had the crowd in raptures.

A 6.30am call (Queensland, Australia time) will be made tomorrow morning (Wednesday 1 March) as to the day’s program. The swell is due to increase slightly and, with the morning high tide, there is a strong possibility that the Quiksilver Core Store Surf Challenge may commence proceedings, and then either a start to the first round of the Roxy Pro presented by Samsung or round two of the Quiksilver Pro.

Round One Results:

HEAT 1: 1st CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.84; 2nd Pedro Henrique (BRA) 14.27; 3rd Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 6.24
HEAT 2: 1st Roy Powers (HAW) 12.77; 2nd Bruce Irons (HAW) 12.24; 3rd Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 11.83
HEAT 3: 1st Pancho Sullivan 16.67 (HAW); 2nd Peterson Rosa 12.83 (BRA); 3rd Nathan Hedge AUS) 9.40
HEAT 4: 1st Troy Brooks (AUS) 16.76; 2nd Yuri Sodre (BRA) 12.93; 3rd Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.59
HEAT 5: 1st Trent Munro (AUS) 15.64; 2nd David Weare (ZAF)15.10; 3rd Taylor Knox (USA) 10.67
HEAT 6: 1st Daniel Wills (AUS) 16.50; 2nd Mikael Picon (FRA) 10.76; 3rd Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 9.00
HEAT 7: 1st Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.93; 2nd Travis Logie (ZAF) 13.50; 3rd Jarrad Howse (AUS) 10.20
HEAT 8: 1st Kelly Slater (USA) 18.40; 2nd Jeremy Flores (REU) 14.84; 3rd Tom Whitaker (AUS) 6.43
HEAT 9: 1st Andy Irons (HAW) 15.43; 2nd Ben Dunn (AUS) 15.17; 3rd Paulo Moura (BRA) 13.27
HEAT 10: 1st Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.83; 2nd Luke Munro (AUS) 12.93; Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 9.66
HEAT 11: 1st Cory Lopez (USA) 13.67; Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 13.00; Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.50
HEAT 12: 1st Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.67; 2nd Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.50; 3rd Tim Reyes (USA) 10.33
HEAT 13: 1st Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 13.50; 2nd Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.67; 3rd Bobby Martinez (USA) 11.27
HEAT 14: 1st Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.33; 2nd Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.10; 3rd Chris Ward (USA) 9.90
HEAT 15: 1st Toby Martin (AUS) 14.83; 2nd Victor Ribas (BRA) 12.40; 3rd Michael Lowe (AUS) 10.07
HEAT 16: 1st Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.50; 2nd Luke Stedman (AUS) 14.83; 3rd Dean Morrison (AUS) 14.60