November 1, 2011 / Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA —Clean three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves graced the banks at Ocean Beach today as the world’s best kicked off the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco.
Event No. 10 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title Series, the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco plays a pivotal role in both the requalification campaigns of the world’s best surfers and the hunt for the 2011 ASP World Title.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 23, reveled in today’s wedgy beachbreak conditions, threading the needle on clean barrels on his forehand and unloading tail-drifting backhand turns to accumulate the day’s highest heat-total of 16.53 (out of 20) to win his Round 1 heat. “It’s hard because you can’t hear any scores out there,” Wilkinson said. “I got a fun left to start with and a fun right to back it up. I was feeling solid, but I knew Michel (Bourez) was going mad and I didn’t feel safe. It was a real fun heat. There’s a ton of paddling but it’s super fun out there and it’s worth it. There are some fun waves.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, defending Rip Curl Pro Search champion, looked sharp while opening his campaign in San Francisco, navigating through several barrels and executing committed turns to earn a 16.03 heat total and a Round 1 heat victory.
“I’m stoked because I went out last night and the surf was tough, the waves were real flat and I had boots and gloves and a hood so that I could go back and feel more comfortable out there today with less rubber on,” Slater said. “The conditions today were a lot more fun. The water is like Jbay and I thought it’d be colder, it’s probably upper 50’s and it’s not too bad.”
Slater, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and current frontrunner on the 2011 ASP World Title Race, needs to take a 9th place finish at the Rip Curl Pro Search to secure his unprecedented 11th crown, but still remained conservative in regards to possibilities despite his commanding lead over the field.
“I’m going to try and just be relaxed about it because it’s a situation where you could feel tense in and want to get it over with it,” Slater said. “The reality of it is the other guys have to win both events with my last heat win so the pressure is on them. I don’t feel like I can relax though because the guys now have to focus and that’s when they could do something magic. That’s how it goes in competition and I don’t doubt that that’s a possibility. It is close. I just need to catch four good waves in this event to win the title.”
Slater also was quick to remember that tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of the late Andy Irons (HAW) and expressed that clinching his 11th ASP World Title would follow second in remembering the life of his friend.
“The globe’s a cool trophy and if I happen to make it out of the next round I’ve love to win this contest,” Slater said. “Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Andy’s passing away and it’s going to be a sad and happy day in remembering him and if Ironically I can win the world title on that day it’d be secondary to the memory of Andy.”
Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 25, current No. 34 on the ASP World Ranking, earned a crucial Round 1 victory with sharp backhand surfing on several Ocean Beach lefts and solidified his Round 1 victory with a lengthy right barrel to relegate ASP World Tour rookie Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, and Portuguese veteran Tiago Pires (PRT), 31, to Round 2.
“It’s fun out there with the offshore winds,” Gudauskas said. “I got those fun lefts and they’re hard to find so it’s really fun. This year has been a tricky year for me. I’ve had some close heats and I’ve had a lot of close loses and shockers, so I’m just letting it go and just free surfing out there. I feel like I’m home with the full suit and I feel good out there.”
Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, current No. 3 on the ASP World Title Race, carried the momentum from his win at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal to San Francisco to take a hard-fought Round 1 victory over Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, and Travis Logie (ZAF), x.
“Coming off the win in Portugal last event has given me a lot of confidence,” De Souza said. “We had amazing waves, but the waves are fun here too. It’s much colder, but it’s not too bad. San Francisco is beautiful and we’re very fortunate to have all the support of the locals for having us here.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, immediately found a rhythm in the Ocean Beach lineup, consistently driving his way through tight barrels to relegate progressive Hawaiian Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, to Round 2 in conditions he found similar to his home of South Africa.
“I found a couple of little nuggets and got barreled,” Smith said. “Dusty (Payne) was unfortunate and he said he saw a shark out there so that’s a bit unnerving. The waves can be pretty fun though. It reminds me a lot about waves at home around Cape Town.”
Dusty Payne exited the water five-minutes early in his Round 1 bout against Jordy Smith after claiming to see a shark cruising the Ocean Beach lineup and opted to take his chances in Round 2 rather than deal with potentially dangerous wildlife.
“I was sitting out there and saw something in the lineup,” Payne said. “I’ve seen dolphins before and that wasn’t a dolphin. That’s the biggest fin I’ve ever seen in my life and it came straight for me. The waves are terrible so I just opted to stay in instead of deal with the shark.”
When competition commences, up first will be Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, up against Dane Reynolds (USA), 26, in Heat 5 of Round 2.
The Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco is Stop No. 10 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title Series with a waiting period from November 1-12. The 2011 Pro Search will be broadcast live on Fuel TV, Livestream.com and at live.ripcurl.com.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco, are calling for he first two days of the waiting period, Tuesday and Wednesday, to see solid northwest ground and windswell mix along with generally favorable wind conditions (although still lumpy and bumpy surf on Tuesday). The end of the week and into the following weekend (3rd-6th) will see more swell, but also variable and, at times, strong onshore wind. For additional information log on to www.aspworldtour.com
Photo: Dan Warbrick
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Adam Melling (AUS) 12.50, Taylor Knox (USA) 10.80, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.50
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.60, Jadson Andre (BRA) 11.43, Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.00
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.67, John John Florence (HAW) 10.67, Daniel Ross (AUS) 7.00
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.10, Dusty Payne (HAW) 7.87, Tom Whitaker (AUS) N/S
Heat 5: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.67, Owen Wright (AUS) 6.10, Dillon Perillo (USA) 4.86
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.03, Kai Otton (AUS) 10.90, Dean Brady (AUS) 9.97
Heat 7: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.10, Julian Wilson (AUS) 11.43, Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.33
Heat 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.53, Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.23, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.77
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.50, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.10, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 9.77
Heat 10: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.40, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 16.33, Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.37
Heat 11: Chris Davidson (AUS) 16.10, Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.26, Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.10
Heat 12: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.10, Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.77, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.30
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 11.16 def. Dean Brady (AUS) 8.07
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.60 def. Dillon Perillo (USA) 6.50
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.57 def. Taylor Clark (USA) 8.76
Heat 4: Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.00
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO REMAINING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 9: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Kai Otton (USA)
Heat 10: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 11: Tiago Pires (PRT) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 12: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)