EL CONFITAL, Gran Canaria (Saturday, October 11, 2008) - The second to last day of the Ocean & Earth Pro witnessed some intense action with the pressure rising over the potential winners at El Confital. Eight heats were wrapped up taking the event into its Man-on-man clashes and all four semifinalists were decided after a great surf show in three to four foot (1. to 1.2 meter) waves, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) being the only one to resist the Australian assault led by ASP World Tour surfer Daniel Ross (AUS).
The four Man-on-man Quarterfinals started at midday under a beating sun with the onshore winds decreasing slowly and the mid-outgoing tide making the wave hollower over the excellent quality righthand pointbreak reef. Quarterfinal No. 1 saw the clash of titans with Daniel Ross (AUS) meeting with defending champion Nic Muscroft (AUS) in a high-level duel eventually won by Ross. Muscroft, who had posted an excellent 17.00 point tally (out of a possible 20) earlier in the morning, was left away from Semifinals by an unstoppable Ross.
"It was fun out there, I got some pretty good waves in my first heat and I definitely felt good," Ross said. "I have had a good week so far, I trained well with Jay (Thompson) and I definitely want to better the 3rd place I got here last year. I am focused on winning."
Ross, who has already equalled his 2007 result by reaching Semifinal No. 1 where he will meet Canarian star and renowned competitor Jonathan Gonzalez, left the water relieved and will definitely be a favorite in tomorrow's finals.
"I am stoked to make it to the Semifinals," Ross said. "I knew it would be a tricky heat against Nic (Muscroft) who is the defending champion here but I sat patiently and finished up with probably one of the only barrels today with a good total. I hope the waves remain as good for tomorrow."
Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) was the only European surfer to counter the assault from Down Under, the Canarian surfer from the near-by island of Tenerife defeating other Australian Clint Kimmins with great consistency and comitment over the reef of El Confital finishing ahead with the highest heat total of the Quarterfinals.
"The waves changed a lot today and the morning on-shore made it tricky", Gonzalez said. "It was more about turns and maneuvers than barrels today which is a pity for El Confital but I am stoked to make it through and surf in the first ever Man-on-man heats taking place here."
Gonzalez had several excellent results in the past in front of his crowd at El Confital but never raised the winner's trophy and is definitely on a quest to winning at home. His 17.00 point heat tally (out of a possible 20) posted in Quarterfinal No. 2 today gave him confidence for the showdown.
"I just waited for the better waves and I know the spot well so I sat at the right place," Gonzalez said. "It is always a pleasure to surf here in the Canarys and make a result. "I know the wave well and I really hope I can grab that crown. I have been doing good here in the past few years but I want to win this time."
If experience prevailed in the first half of the draw with both Ross and Gonzalez securing their Semifinal berth, Australian rookies Stuart Kennedy and Owen Wright definitely took control of the day following respectively in Quarterfinals No. 3 and 4.
Wright met Irish surfer and ASP WQS European title contender Glenn Hall (IRE) in Quarterfinal No.4 and came up with some impressive surfing unleashing big tailslide backhand re-entries over the shallow and almost dry reef as the tide was going out.
"It was pretty tricky in that last heat because the tide had definitely gone out and you could see the reef come out on the different sections," Wright said. "There was a couple of waves I just did not finish my re-entries not to hit the bottom too hard which I still did four times on my best waves. I am pretty stoked to be here and get this far."
Wright, 18, who competed on the ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series this year, has surfed in a few ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events but has no pressure. Wright has the ideal "giant killer" profile with his upside-down and comitted backhand attack and "new school" progressive style. Wright will meet fellow Australian youg gun Stuart Kennedy in Semifinal No. 2 tomorrow.
The four remaining competitors in contention for the prestigious ASP WQS 4-Star Ocean & Earth Pro will meet at 10 AM (GMT+1) at El Confital for the showdown.
The Ocean & Earth Pro pres. by La Caja de Canarias is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com
Heat 1: Daniel Ross (AUS) Vs Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
Heat 2: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) Vs Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 1: Daniel Ross (AUS) 16.24 pts Def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 14.34 pts
Heat 2: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 17.00 pts Def. Clint Kimmins (AUS) 12.53 pts
Heat 3: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 13.00 pts Def. Alain Riou (PYF) 12.67 pts
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.83 pts Def. Glenn Hall (IRE) 9.94 pts
ROUND 4 RESULTS
Heat 1: Daniel Ross (AUS) 16.33 pts, Clint Kimmins (AUS) 13.10 pts, Evan Valiere (HAW) 12.50 pts, Brad Ettinger (USA) 12.30 pts
Heat 2: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 14.07 pts, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 12.47 pts, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 12.33 pts, Damien Fahrenfort (ZAF) 10.53 pts
Heat 3: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 16.50 pts, Glenn Hall (IRE) 14.90 pts, Che Stang (USA) 12.50 pts, Adam Melling (AUS) 4.93 pts
Heat 4: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.73 pts, Alain Riou (PYF) 13.83 pts, Flynn Novak (HAW) 9.67 pts, Julian Cuello (CNY) 6.13 pts