Courstesy ASPLive.Com

Also SEE: Pix by ASP's Pierre Tostee at Honolulu Star Bulletin 12/16/98

ASP Official Round 1 (48) Results

Banzai Pipeline, Hawai`i (Dec 15, 1998)--To the untrained eye, Hawaii’s infamous Banzai Pipeline looked about as impressive as it could get for the continuation of round one of the Mountain Dew Gerry Lopez Pipe Masters today. Huge waves in the 10-15 foot range were nothing short of awesome, but the reality for the world’s best surfers was that the going was about as tough as it could get. Their wave scores reflected the situation.

A long, hollow tube ride on the good days, Pipeline was today a mass of white water which delivered its fair share of entertaining thrills and spills but nothing in the way of epic, perfect 10 point rides which the break is known for world-wide. One of the competitors aptly described the situation in the line-up as “Armageddon”.

All competitors knew the road to victory today would be a rough one after watching Pipeline veteran Mark Occhilupo (Gold Coast, Australia) test the waters in the first heat of the day. Occhilupo battled the elements, snapping two surfboards in during his time in the water. Surprisingly he still went on to post a first round win, his final score of 7.90 points out of a possible 30 a testament to just how tough conditions were.

After Occhilupo, all eyes turned to heats eight through 10 with chief world title candidates Kelly Slater (Florida, USA), current world number one Michael Campbell (Sydney, Australia), and Daniel Wills (Byron Bay, Australia) making their debut appearances of the tournament.

Slater took to the water against Hawaiian wildcard Braden Dias and Australian Matt Hoy. While the five time ASP world champion and four time Pipe Masters champion was unable to locate any of the perfect 10 point tube rides that have shot him to victory in previous years, a final short tube ride with three seconds on the clock sealed the deal. A score of 8.25 points contributed to a total of 15.50 points out of a possible 30 - the highest heat score of the day.

Slater’s win came out of pure determination. After taking a mean wipeout, the champ battled the current and on onslaught of white water for the majority of the heat, finally getting back to the lineup with mere seconds remaining.

“I knew how much time I had left and I was thinking that there’s always time for one more wave,” Slater, 26, said. “I was in second up to that point, which is good enough to advance, but I just didn’t want to leave Braden out there alone to do his thing.”

Slater’s round one win takes him a step closer to his hopes of a record sixth world title, however he will need to go at least as far as the semi-finals to have any chance of overcoming the ratings lead of Campbell or Wills.

Wills and Campbell also advanced beyond round one today, but not without their fair share of hard work and close calls. Campbell was drawn against defending Pipe Masters champion John Gomes and West Australian Jake Paterson, while Wills had his work cut out against local wildcard entrant Bruce Irons and Australian Nathan Webster. Both Campbell and Wills scraped through in second place in their respective heats, Campbell only climbing out of third position in the closing moments of his heat to bump Gomes out of the running.

In need of a tiny 1.25 point score to go from third to second, Campbell took off and rode into a close-out tube to earn 1.50 points and a trip to round two.

“I just wanted to get tubed out there, but no-one was getting tubed,” Campbell, 24, said. “ I spent my time before coming to Hawaii training with Tom Carroll (a three time Pipe Master) and his advice to me was just to go for it,” something the ginger-haired surfer from Avalon Beach knows how to do best.

Wills advanced to round two in second place behind Irons, surprising all when he offered that he had actually had a good time out in the tough conditions; especially surprising as this is his first time competing at the break.

“I’m just totally focused. I want to do really well,” said Wills, 23.

Other heat winners today included Shane Beschen (California), Renan Rocha (Brazil), wildcard Hawaiian Bruce Irons, Australian Shane Wehner, and legendary Pipe master Derek Ho (Hawaii). Ho’s heat was the last and toughest of the day, given that the ocean completely washed through with a series of white water close-outs. Ho and his two rivals sat for more than 12 minutes without a single ride being scored before the head judge called for a restart of the heat which Ho went on to win.

“Gerry Lopez tried to tell me that it was going to hold up but I wasn’t too sure about that,” Ho said. “All I could think was that I was in heat 13 and it better not be held on Friday!”

Competition was called off for the day at the conclusion of heat 13 - Ho’s heat after unfavorable onshore winds kicked up and further intensified conditions. Competition is expected to resume first thing tomorrow morning.

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Last Modified: 19981216.1729 HST Wednesday
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