THE 2003 ASP/WCT QUIKSILVER NIIJIMA PRO: DAY ONE

posted by / News / June 19, 2003

Japanese wildcard Masatoshi Ohno today created an upset as the Niijima Quiksilver Pro got underway. The US$250,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) commenced with round one being split in half — heats running simultaneously on two separate banks in front of the main contest site. {{{Eight}}} heats of the second elimination round were then decided further south down Habushiura Beach at ‘Secret Point.’Tricky 2-3ft (0.6-1m) waves breaking close the shore were on offer thismorning, while 2 miles (4km) along the same stretch of beach longer 4ftrighthanders peeled cleanly down the line. Organizers set up a mobile site there to the appreciation of all contestants, with four-wheel drives taxiing those involved between locations.Quiksilver wildcard Masatoshi Ohno put aside nerves to surf confidently and defeat Neco Padaratz (Brz) and world #4 Taj Burrow (West Australia) in a great exchange. Having earlier contested the Quiksilver Trials onAustralia’s Gold Coast and more recently in Fiji without success, Ohno lifted his game on home turf for a significant career win. The goofyfooter was impressive on his backhand; securing a round three berth.

“It’s great,” said Masatoshi. “To win that heat with such good surfers is a really good experience for me. I did my best, and I think these conditions really worked to my advantage, so I was lucky. If they were perfect waves, it would have been more difficult for me. The WCT guys have much more experience in good waves, and I know all of them are so good. I’m really happy to make it.”Burrow later contested round two against another Japanese wildcard Masaki Harada – after the Niijima Quiksilver Pro relocated further south to ‘Secret Point’ and there unleashed a devastating performance over his opponent. The West Australian convincingly advanced with a 7.5 and then equaled the best single score of the event for a 9.0 and the days’ highest combined tally of 16.5-points. A carving reverse 360 at the end of his best ride got the crowd cheering.”The conditions were really tricky this morning and I couldn’t even catch a wave,” recalled Burrow after his win. “I just had to focus on the 33rd place round. I was a little bit nervous, but once the waves started coming through I was feeling confident after getting a few under my belt. The waves were amazing, like Trestles (CA, USA) and really rippable. I actually surfed here all day yesterday feel pretty confident if they continue to run the contest at this break.”Replacement surfer Ben Bourgeois (USA) — who filled Hawaiian Shane Dorian’s spot in the Niijima Quiksilver Pro — made the most of the opportunity by defeating 2001 world champion {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (Fl, USA) and Michael Campbell(Port Macquarie, Aus) this morning. The former WCT surfer narrowly missed out on a full-time position in 2003, but posted the day’s first 9.0 and the second highest combined tally of 16.15-points with his smooth forehand attack.”I got lucky since Shane didn’t want to come here,” explained Bourgeois of his position in the event. “Stoked just to be here and have a spot, and winning that first heat is great. The waves were really tough and I didn’t really have a strategy out there, but I was lucky to catch a really long one. I didn’t feel that good on it, but the wave itself was a nine(laughs).”

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