In the opening round of competition, a win puts you in Round 3 and
a loss sets you up to battle in Round 2, where you need a victory or
you're knocked out. So far, looking good and taking some wins were
world champ Andy Irons, who had a slow start but came on strong in
the end with a clean barrel on a set and some mean carves to back it
up, earning a 9.8, almost a perfect score. Irons was trailing
Quiksilver wildcard Dane Reynolds, the hot up-and-coming Californian
amateur who had quite a heat. His new-school moves were impressive,
but could only get him second.
The matchup for Round 2, in the do-or-die heats, pairs Reynolds
with six-time world champ Kelly Slater. Just by coincidence, Reynolds
and Slater both ride for Quiksilver and board maker Al Merrick. The
two surfers are about 12 years apart, so it could be interesting.
Aussie Taj Burrow, whom some are picking to have a legitimate shot
at the world title the way he's been surfing, won his heat. As did
another veteran, Mark "Occy" Occhilupo, the 1999 top points overall
tour winner. Last year's event winner, Dean Morrison, won too. The
United States' C.J. Hobgood, the 2001 world champ who was back from a
foot injury, tore up his heat, taking down cross-town rival Slater
out in Round 1. Brazilian Victor Ribas edged another Australian
upstart, Joel Parkinson, who has to surf it up again, as does Mick
Fanning, who's been looking dangerous. The waiting period goes till
March 14 and will run on the best days. The deepest, sickest, longest
barrel will receive a $5,000 extra prize, too.
Up north on Feb. 28, they held the Mavericks big-wave surf
contest. The surf was big time the day before, estimated at
30-feet-plus, but it was stormy and windy. It did clean up a bit on
the day of the even, but it was still pretty bumpy and the swell was
dropping fast, more in the 15- to 20-foot range. The event, run by
"Mav" legend Jeff Clark, has been on hold for the last two years.
Clark said it was on, and the big-wave contingent showed up.
Making it a three-peat performance was Darryl "Flea" Virostko, who
found that big macking wall and streaked it across for the win,
receiving $5,000. Second was Surfing Mag's Evan Slater, who made an
incredible late air drop and was leading the first half of the final.
Third was big-wave rider Peter Mel, fourth was up north's Anthony
Tasnick, fifth was local rider Matt Ambrose and sixth was Grant
Washburn, who busted a 10-foot board in half in an earlier heat.
Others that showed up were Hawaiians Brock Little and Garrett
McNamara, Brazilian Carlos Burle, Santa Cruz's Shawn Barron, who
busted his ear drum out there, and San Clemente charger Greg Long, to
name a few.
That's it for now, see ya.
* RICK FIGNETTI is an eight-time West Coast champion, has
announced the U.S. Open of Surfing the last nine years and has been
the KROQ-FM surfologist for the last 17 years, doing morning surf
reports. He owns a surf shop on Main Street. You can reach him at