Figueira da Foz, Portugal – Current ratings leader Andy Irons broke his series of third round losses by advancing in the Figueira Pro.
The $310,000 World Championship Tournament (WCT) relocated further north to the main beach of Figueira and commenced with men’s round three heats yesterday, running as far as heat #12. Surf at Molho Norte was 2-3ft (0.6-1m).
Irons, who has been in front since winning back-to-back tournaments in Australia and Tahiti, lost during round three of the past three events to wildcard entrants. Against Neco Padaratz (Brz) however, the Kauaian snuck into his best ride under the Brazilian’s early priority and posted a 9.5 for some much-needed confidence. He then dominated his opponent, who appeared rattled by what had transpired already.
“That heat to me was like a final,” reasoned Irons. “Just having Neco in waves like this and being such the competitor he is. He had priority, but I noticed he didn’t catch it, so I stood up and got a good turn off. Then just milked it for all I could and it was the turning point of the heat, pretty much. I knew I had the edge, but if I could get a 9.5, so could he easily enough. My next wave was a 7.5, so it kind of put the pressure on him.”
“I’ve had three contests in a row losing to wildcards, so it puts a damper on your confidence. To win a heat, especially against Neco, is great. I’m just taking it one at time from here on out.”
In other heats, Reigning world champion CJ Hobgood (USA) defeated Greg Emslie (SAfr). Taj Burrow accounted for good mate and fellow West Australian Jake Paterson. Lee Winkler (Aus) collected a big win over current #6 Shea Lopez (USA). Lopez’s younger brother Cory, who’s currently rated #8, then lost to Fabio Gouveia (Brz). Richie Lovett (Aus) topped Taylor Knox (USA).
Remaining round three heats will take place today.