Andy Irons wins Quicksilver Pro
Winners podium : Photo Tostee/ASP Worldtour.com
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
Irons Wins Fourth WCT & Extends Ratings Lead
October 11, 2003 (Hossegor, France) Reigning world champ Andy Irons (Kauai, Haw) today won the Quiksilver Pro France over Phil MacDonald (Aus) and extended his domination of this year ´s ratings. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) commenced with the first two quarterfinals this morning, before competition went on hold during the midday lower tide. When conditions again turned on, remaining quarterfinals, the semifinals and then the grand finale climaxed in front of thousands of spectators. Two Evian Expression Sessions were also held.
Perfect 6ft (2m) surf was on offer, with bigger sets breaking further out the back. Hollow barrels and some of Europe ´s best waves of the past few months graced the sandbank at La Graviere on a glorious French day.
Irons claimed his fourth WCT title of the year in stellar form. The Kauaian built momentum throughout the Quiksilver Pro France (where he finished runner-up in 2002), gaining plenty of confidence as he emerged though the earlier ´wildcard ´ rounds and approached the business end of the draw.
"This is incredible and I ´m on top of the world," began Irons, surrounding by media. Just to be in a final and win in conditions like that is an amazing feeling. This is what I love to do and when the waves are like that... I ´m just so happy. I had two bad contests in a row and started to feel like I was losing my form, so to get it back in France - it ´s such a crucial part of the year - feels amazing.
"All I really wanted to do when the year began was be able to defend my title well and stay in the race," he continued. "I ´m just having such a good year, so hopefully it goes through to Hawaii where the title will be crowned. I ´ve got a 700-point lead now going into Mundaka (next WCT starting tomorrow), and there and Brazil will be crucial. I ´ve just got to do as well as the guys near me (on the ratings) each event so the lead doesn ´t change.
MacDonald was a dark horse throughout the 40-minute clash, despite being in his first WCT final. The 24-year-old played the patience game he perfected in the semifinals against six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA), and it almost paid off again. He trailed by a huge combination of scores for the first half, but then locked in an 8.4 to be within a possible one-wave recovery. Unfortunately he wasn ´t able to find the 9.66 needed, and had to settle with runner-up position and US$16,000.
"Yeah, I ´m stoked," said MacDonald. "The waves were good, but after Andy ´s first couple of rides I was playing catch-up the whole time. I just didn ´t get the waves, but it ´s an unreal result. Congratulations to Andy. He ´s a true champion.
Equal third were West Australian Taj Burrow and Slater. Burrow retained his third position on the current ratings with his second semifinal berth of the season, and remains within striking distance for this year ´s world title. Against Irons he led at the start, but ultimately required an 8.57 at the end following Irons ´ best 9.33 ride.
"It was pretty tough," reasoned Burrow. "I think I was maybe trying too hard, and there was a couple I didn ´t come out of which would have definitely helped. I just couldn ´t find a really good one, even though it ´s one of the best days ever here.
Slater appeared destined for a final ´s showdown against Irons, but was eventually stopped by MacDonald, who clawed back from oblivion with an epic 9.33 tube ride. The Floridian had a commanding lead after two eight plus rides, but after allowing his opponent to catch a righthander while he held priority, the Australian secured the 7.63 score he required. Nonetheless, Slater still posted the best scores of the Quiksilver Pro France and remains Iron ´s main nemesis as the world title race continues.
"From my perspective it didn ´t look like it was going to be one of the better waves out there," said Slater, of MacDonald ´s turning ride. "I figured there was about five minutes left, and if I took that I ´d lose priority and for sure a better wave would come in. I thought I ´d get another good wave, but it didn ´t happen for me.
Finishing equal fifth today in the Quiksilver Pro France were Danny Wills (Byron Bay, Aus) Taylor Knox (CA, USA), Trent Munro (Scott ´s Head, Aus) and Shea Lopez (FL, USA). The Floridian, especially, was unlucky not to progress further. He opened his quarterfinal against Slater with an amazing backhand barrel for a near-perfect 9.8, but even this wasn ´t enough to stop pro surfing ´s wunderkind.
The Evian Expression Session took place after the final, with a handful of the world ´s best making the most of epic conditions. Cory Lopez (FL, USA) secured the main prize of US$5,000 for a huge aerial, while Brazilian Neco Padaratz emerged from the best tube for US$3,000. The most radical maneuver was awarded to Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, Aus) for his critical forehand snap.
An Evian Girls Expression Session also took place with 10 of the world ´s best women earlier in the day. Four-time world champ and Roxy Pro France co-contest director Lisa Andersen (FL, USA) took out the main prize of US$1,500 with a great forehand bash, and Rochelle Ballard (Haw) finished runner-up and Roxy Pro France winner Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) came in third.
"It was cool to be out there having fun," said Andersen. "I got that one wave and just belted it (laughs). It was a long 10-days during the event, so it was good to go surfing and hoot everybody into waves."
Quiksilver Pro Final
Current Top 10 Ratings After Quiksilver Pro France, WCT #8/12