MARGARET RIVER, WA/Australia (Saturday, March 23, 2013) - A long day of action packed heats held in maxing 8-to-10 foot (2.5-3 meter) surf at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro has seen the Men's draw that started with 96 of the world's best surfers whittled down to just 8 Quarterfinalists. The stage is set for a massive Finals day tomorrow that will see the winners crowned in both the Men's and Women's divisions with surf forecaster Coastalwatch predicting excellent condition.
Stop No. 2 of 8 on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour, the 2013 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro has just four Semifinalists remaining. The four women left in the event are the same four Semifinalists from the season opening event on the Gold Coast and they have set themselves as frontrunners for the 2013 ASP Women's World Title.
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro is also the first men's ASP PRIME rated event for the 2013 season, offering maximum points towards 2014 ASP World Championship Tour qualification campaigns. Now that we're into the finals the points are massive, the prize-money is huge and the guys will be putting it all on the line to claim the event win.
Julian Wilson (AUS) won through two exciting heats today, posting an event high 9.57 (out of a possible 10) in his morning heat after unloading multiple under the lip snaps. In his second heat he was lucky to get past Kolohe Andino (USA), after suffering an interference in the first minute of the heat. Andino was up and riding when Wilson dropped in and did a cutback, as a result Wilson lost half of his second scoring ride, but he still managed to amass enough points to defeat Andino and advance into the Quarterfinals.
"I swear I saw that wave passed him by so I took it," Wilson said. "He must have caught it late. I did that cutback and I saw him, at first I thought it was one of the guys from the heat before catching a wave in, then I saw it was Kolohe (Andino) and I was thinking 'oh no.' I wasn't too mad about it, I just tried to stay focussed. I'm really happy to get through that one. I know how it feels for Kolohe losing that heat, you've got a big opportunity to get the win and you can't manage it."
Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) battled back and forth with Hawaiian Granger Larsen (HAW) for a spot in the Quarterfinals, but it was the Canary Island surfer who was able to best battle the elements and get the scores to progress.
"I knew it was going to be a tough heat in these conditions," Gonzalez said. "I was in second place and I got a wave at the end, and it was the best wave of the heat so I'm happy with what happened. This is a big event and it's early in the year so I'm happy to already be in the Quarterfinals, and hopefully the waves are better for me tomorrow and I can go further."
Dusty Payne (HAW) eliminated event standout performer Brian Toth (PRI) in a fairly one-sided affair. Payne was in sync posting a pair of scores in the 8-point-range thanks to his powerhouse carves and wraps.
"My plan was to keep busy and ride a bunch of wave because it gives you more opportunity to find the waves that will help you get scores," Payne said. "I surfed against Brian (Toth) yesterday and it was a pretty low scoring heat, but it was good because it gave me more time in the line-up to get used to the wave. It must have helped because I felt pretty good out there."
Jay Quinn (NZL) posted the biggest two-wave heat-total of the day, showing no signs of slowing down due to an injury to his knee from earlier in the event. Quinn who recently retired from competing full time to start a family seems to be in career best form and is now through to the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Quarterfinals.
"I said to myself before I paddled out that I needed to post some 8-point-rides," Quinn said. "Then I went out there and got a couple of 8s and even a 9 so it's nice. I had to have a couple of voltarens to numb the pain before the heat, but it seems to feel better surfing than when I'm walking which is a bonus. This would be one of my best starts to a competitive year, but I made the choice to start a family and spend more time at home so I'm not doing the full tour anymore. Being in the pointy end of the competition is just a bonus to get a bit of money and a seeding for the Australian events next year."
Dion Atkinson (AUS) suffered an horrific wipeout at the end of his Round of 16 heat against (/athletes/568/jay-thompson)Jay Thompson] (AUS), going over the falls on a solid wave, face first into his board that exploded in pieces under the weight of the wave. Atkinson said that he felt the board break under his face and chin, but that he was feeling okay other than some soreness and minor cuts and bruises.