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World's best rip it up Down Under

March 31, 2005

RICK FIGNETTI

The world's best surfers are still in the land Down Under, Australia,

for the World Championship Tour's Rip Curl Pro. The surf contest that

usually is held at Bells Beach -- for an incredible 33 years, the

longest-running pro surf event in Australian history -- was moved to

Phillip Island's Woolamai Beach for bigger surf.

It was more contestable there, in the 3- to 5-foot range as the

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standouts of the first round were East Coasters C.J. Hobgood, the

2001 world champ, and twin brother Damien. Both were shredding it up,

winning their first-round heats.

Also looking good was the winner of the first event at Snapper

Rocks, Mick "The Quick" Fanning from New South Wales and fellow

Aussie Taj Burrow from West Oz.

Huntington Beach's Timmy Reyes had one of the toughest draws going

up against Taj and Hawaiian standout Bruce Irons and ended up getting

third. But he has another shot to advance in round two, when all the

seconds and thirds battle it out in a must-win situation.

Six-time world champ Kelly Slater took one heat over hot rookies

Jamie O'Brien, the Pipe winner, and San Clemente's air bustin' Chris

Ward, who finished second at the last event.

World champ Andy Irons and Aussie veteran Luke Egan had a couple

close ones with some fired up wild cards, but moved on in search of a

Bells Cup.

Rumor has it a swell might be on the way to get the contest back

to Bells Beach with those long, rippable rights.

The women's $65,000 S.P.C. Pro, which was to be held at Bell's

Beach, moved to Winkipop. Last year's world champ, 21-year-old

Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich, won heat after heat and dominated the

35-minute gal's final too, pocketing $10,000.

Second was Serena Brooke, the Australian who is living on the West

Coast in Dana Point. Brooke, who was a runner-up to the world title

in 1998 and 1999, was surfing solid throughout the whole event but

just couldn't match Mulanovich's scores in the end.

So Mulanovich now holds four WCT wins in her short career and a

Bells Cup.

Hawaii's Megan Abubo lost in the semis, for an equal third

placing, but since she finished second in the last event in

Queensland a couple weeks ago, she's No. 1 in the current ratings.

Six-time world champ Layne Beachley made it as far as the

quarterfinals, but needed another good ride to get through.

They also just held an International Rip Curf Grom Search, at

Bells Beach and Hawaiian legend Michael Ho's son, Mason Ho, was on

fire and took the win, slashin' it up over a talented field of

up-and-comers.

On the women's side, South African Nikita Robb won the girls'

division.

Spring break is happening right now in Surf City for our local

high schools and middle schools, but the first part of the week was a

bit chilly, I'd have to say. Heavy winds have also caused some

upwelling in the water too, so it's been kind of freezing out there.

The second half of the week should have better weather.

Up at the mountains, they have about a 3- to 5-foot base, with

spring-like conditions and good coverage. There are spring break

activities happening like pond skimming, bands playing and other fun

activities going on at the local resorts.

That's it for now, see ya.

* RICK FIGNETTI is a nine-time West Coast champion, has announced

the U.S. Open of Surfing the last 11 years and has been the KROQ-FM

surfologist for the last 18 years, doing morning surf reports. He

owns a surf shop on Main Street. You can reach him at (714) 536-1058.

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