LAGIDO, Peniche/Portugal (Friday, October 23, 2009) – The Rip Curl Pro Search, stop No. 9 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, completed the remaining eight heats of Round 1 today in clean four-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves at the backup site of Lagido.
On the fifth day of the waiting period, the Rip Curl Pro Search has experienced a gamut of action in the Peniche region of Portugal, ranging from massive seas, destroyed event structures, running at the third backup venue of Mohle Leste yesterday to today’s clean lefthanders at Lagido.
As the second-to-last event on the ASP Dream Tour, and opting to run the man-on-man elimination format from the outset, the Rip Curl Pro Search has played host to some of the more dramatic bouts of the season throughout the opening round of competition.
Drew Courtney (AUS), 30, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie and current ASP World No. 32, punctuated the day’s action with the most exciting heat of the event, defeating fellow rookie Dustin Barca (HAW), 27. Needing solid results in the final two events of the season to ensure his place amongst the world’s best for 2010, Courtney is focused on continuing his momentum from the last event in Spain.
“It is probably the biggest comp all year for me,” Courtney said. “I have come off a good result last week (in Spain), so I just want to keep improving and hopefully get another 5th at this competition, that would be great.”
Courtney belted the offshore lefthanders, threading barrels and executing exciting top turns on his backhand to acquire the event’s high heat total of a 17.17 out of a possible 20.
“I got off to a good start,” Courtney said. “The waves kind of suited me so I was just free surfing and kept improving wave by wave. A few waves came my way so I got into a good rhythm and ended up sneaking into a barrel. There were great waves out there and I’m stoked we moved it over to Lagido today.”
Courtney will face Taylor Knox (USA), 28, when Rip Curl Pro Search competition resumes.
Greg Emslie (ZAF), 32, current ASP World No. 31, was another who built momentum throughout the improving afternoon conditions, opting to focus on performance rather than ratings in his advancement to Round 2 over Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 25.
“I have had so many years stressing about the bubble,” Emslie said. “To be honest, it is the first time in my life that I couldn’t tell you how many points I am on. I just want to go and surf, feel good and enjoy competing. I find when you are stressing about what points you are on, it takes that away from you, you’re not doing your proper surfing. I am going to let the surfing do the talking and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
Emslie has drawn dangerous goofy-footer Damien Hobgood (USA), 30, in Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Search.Bruno Santos shakes his tail. Photo: warbrick
Bruno Santos (BRA), 26, past winner of the Billabong Pro Tahiti (as a wildcard), continued to terrorize the ASP Top 45 today, eliminating veteran campaigner Mick Campbell (AUS), 35, in Round 1 of competition.
“I am pretty happy,” Santos said. “When I got the wildcard of was really excited about Supertubes and Peniche. I am pretty happy that I did a good job here today. I am happy to beat Mick (Campbell), he is such a good surfer.”
A regular wildcard fixture in the past two Rip Curl Search events (Chile in 2007 and Indonesia in 2008), Santos, along with Owen Wright (AUS), 19, are the remaining wildcards left in the Rip Curl Pro Search.
“I like surfing the Search events and surfing against the best guys,” Santos said. “We get to surf really good waves with one guy in the water so I am really happy to be at these contests.”
Santos will take on current ASP World No. 2, Joel Parkinson (AUS), 28, in Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Search when competition resumes.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 8am at Lagido to assess conditions for a possible 8:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be former ASP World Champion (2001), C.J. Hobgood (USA), 30, up against 2009 ASP World Tour rookie Nathaniel Curran (USA), 25, in the opening heat of Round 2.
Surfline, official forecasters for the 2009 Rip Curl Pro Search, are calling the current Northwest swell to drop slightly over the next 24 hours before another solid WNW swell comes in for the weekend.
Highlights from today’s Rip Curl Pro Search will be available at http://live.ripcurl.com