SAN JUAN, Lanzarote (Saturday, October 18, 2008) - Favorites, upsets and crucial points were the setting of the second-to-last day of the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star Prime Santa Surf Pro, featuring twenty heats of intense action with the event reaching its business end. Sixteen men only remain in contention for the valuable winner's 3000 ratings' points after today's battles and the 2008 champion will be crowned tomorrow Sunday, October 19, around the 3 PM (GMT+1).
From major upsets to excellent scores, the weekend-crowd witnessed world class surfing in the clean and consistent three foot (one meter) waves on offer all day and the sixteen men advancing through to Round 5 enjoyed the best conditions of the week in tensed clashes with everyone chasing a major result.
Drew Courtney (AUS), 29, impressed throughout the day posting two excellent heat scores to lead an impressive Australian contingent looking more focused than ever. Courtney, who netted 17.93 points in Round 3 and 16.86 points in Round 4 (both tallies out of a possible 20), made his intentions clear and left the water relieved knowing he virtually has one foot in next year's ASP World Tour.
"I am pretty relaxed and confident on my backhand so I felt good all day in the good conditions," Courtney said. "It was a tough heat, it could have been a final and I just waited for the better waves to get my scores. As soon as I got my first one I tried and pushed the guys out of the peak and it worked out well."
Courtney, who achieved a great performance guaranteeing a minimum of 1650 points, was definitely satisfied with his run today.
"I have had some pretty calm heats but there is definitely more tension out there," Courtney said. "I am 11th at the moment and looking to better 1100 points so it makes it very special off course with everyone in the top 25 still having a chance to qualify. I am looking forward to the finals and hope I can make the Semis at least."
Courtney will face outsider Bobby Hansen (NZL) in Heat 3 tomorrow and will have to be on his guard with the Kiwi surfer slowly rising and already getting his best result ever.
Europeans experienced some tough battles and current ASP WQS No. 8 Michel Bourez's (PYF) elimination in Round 4 was one of the crew's biggest deceptions, the Tahitian charger going down to last year's runner-up Shaun Cansdell (AUS) and Courtney.
Tiago Pires (PRT), 27, currently among the ASP Top 45, needed to secure a solid result today and ideally reach the final day, which he did with efficiency and smart tactics. Pires, who is chasing a requalification through the ASP World Qualifying Series after a tough first year on the Dream Tour, won both his heats eliminating former ASP World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW) in Round 4 to reach the Man-on-man clashes.
"I really wanted to finish first in that 3-Man heat," Pires said. "The tide changed the conditions a lot and made the waves really flat. From the morning to the afternoon, the line-up changed and I adapted my surfing to get the right scores. That last heat was more about cutbacks and showing good flow to the judges and I pushed my turns hard."
Pires, who has surfed seven ASP WQS events this year with an impressive success, is looking to better a low 560-point result and will climb up the ratings after Lanzarote.
"I am really not looking at any ratings or points and I don't even know where I am sitting right now," Pires said. "It is my eighth WQS event this year and there is another one coming-up at home next week so I just want to enjoy myself and things should work out well."
Pires is the last European in the Santa Surf Pro and he will meet with 2007 runner-up Shaun Cansdell (AUS) in Heat 4 of Round 5, Cansdell having surfed extremely well so far taking advantage of his forehand stance at San Juan to unleash some spectacular turns.
Brazil's ASP Top 45 surfer Heitor Alves (BRA) and top WQS contender Simao Romao (BRA) will be the only representatives of the green and yellow flag tomorrow, both of them respectively surfing against North American consistent competitors Austin Ware (USA) and Nathan Yeomans (USA).
The final day will start at 8.30 AM Sunday, October 19 with five surfers from the current ASP WQS Top 20 in position to make a giant step towards next year's ASP World Tour.
The Santa Surf Pro is webcast LIVE at www.aspeurope.com
UPCOMING ROUND 5 HEATS
Heat 1: Heitor Alves (BRA) Vs Austin Ware (USA)
Heat 2: Adam Robertson (AUS) Vs Nic Muscroft (AUS)
Heat 3: Drew Courtney (AUS) Vs Bobby Hansen (NZL)
Heat 4: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) Vs Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 5: Greg Emslie (ZAF) Vs Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 6: Nathan Yeomans (USA) Vs Simao Romao (BRA)
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) Vs David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 8: Shaun Gossmann (AUS) Vs Phil MacDonald (AUS)
ROUND 4 RESULTS
Heat 1: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.50 pts, Adam Robertson (AUS) 14.33 pts, Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) 13.84 pts
Heat 2: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.16 pts, Austin Ware (USA) 9.60 pts, Clint Kimmins (AUS) 8.43 pts
Heat 3: Drew Courtney (AUS) 16.86 pts, Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.90 pts, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.57 pts
Heat 4: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.77 pts, Bobby Hansen (NZL) 13.87 pts, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 9.40 pts
Heat 5: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 15.50 pts, Nate Yeomans (USA) 12.40 pts, Che Stang (USA) 11.80 pts
Heat 6: Simao Romao (BRA) 12.93 pts, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 9.83 pts, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 9.50 pts
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 15.24 pts, Shaun Gossmann (AUS) 14.00 pts, Jay Thompson (AUS) 9.90 pts
Heat 8: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 16.83 pts, David Weare (ZAF) 14.33 pts, Daniel Ross (AUS) 7.34 pts
ROUND 3 RESULTS
Heat 1: Heitor Alves (BRA) 17.50 pts, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 12.50 pts, Flynn Novak (HAW) 9.46 pts, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 9.20 pts
Heat 2: Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) 13.26 pts, Austin Ware (USA) 11.67 pts, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.37 pts, Eric Rebiere (FRA) 9.16 pts
Heat 3: Clint Kimmins (AUS) 15.83 pts, Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.17 pts, Yadin Nicol (AUS) 10.80 pts, Casey Brown (HAW) 8.33 pts
Heat 4: Drew Courtney (AUS) 17.93 pts, Sunny Garcia (HAW) 12.60 pts, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 11.94 pts, Patrick Beven (FRA) 8.50 pts
Heat 5: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.57 pts, Bobby Hansen (NZL) 14.84 pts, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 13.43 pts, Blake Howard (USA) 10.33 pts
Heat 6: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.50 pts, Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 13.93 pts, Luke Campbell (AUS) 12.00 pts, Evan Valiere (HAW) 7.00 pts
Heat 7: Che Stang (USA) 17.67 pts, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 16.03 pts, Rodrigo Dornelles (BRA) 15.83 pts, Leigh Sedley (AUS) 10.70 pts
Heat 8: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 16.27 pts, Simao Romao (BRA) 15.50 pts, Shaun Burrell (USA) 11.20 pts, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 9.03 pts
Heat 9: Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 14.34 pts, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 11.93 pts, Travis Mellem (USA) 10.84, Leonardo Neves (BRA) 9.74 pts
Heat 10: Gabe Kling (USA) 13.26 pts, Daniel Ross (AUS) 12.83 pts, Adam Melling (AUS) 11.83 pts, Jean Da Silva (BRA) 11.17 pts
Heat 11: Shaun Gossmann (AUS) 14.60 pts, David Weare (ZAF) 10.07 pts, Glenn Hall (IRE) 8.07 pts, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 8.00 pts
Heat 12: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 14.43 pts, Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.93 pts, Romain Laulhe (FRA) 12.30 pts, Tonino Benson (HAW) 10.60 pts